Wrapping up 2019, “Cats” made its debut as a truly frightful work of art. The film grossed just over $58 million worldwide, and with reports projecting close to a $71 million loss for the studio, most can agree that “Cats” flopped big time. However, just because a movie does terribly in theaters doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad film. “Donnie Darko” remains a popular film with young and old viewers, but didn’t do very well in the box office. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is still a widely known Christmas movie, but also struggled to find an audience initially. Unfortunately, in this case, “Cats” is just a really bad movie.
The movie “Cats” is an adaptation of a play with the same name written by Andrew Lloyd Weber. What many younger viewers may not know is that the play was created as a visual transformation of TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a collection of poems about feline psychology.
The plot appears to be this: Victoria, the star of the film, finds herself a new member of the “jellicle cats,” a group of cats devoted to being chosen to travel to the “Heaviside Layer” and being granted a new life. The main villain Macavity attempts to catnap all other competitors in order to become the “jellicle choice” by default. After the cats are returned safely, a banished cat is chosen and ascends to the Heaviside Layer. If this feels like a spoiler– it’s not. You’ll remain confused throughout the film.
Big name actors like Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, and Ian McKellen somehow agreed to prance around in CGI catsuits for two hours, receiving a 1-star rating on Rotten Tomatoes in exchange for their efforts.
One of the main draws of the film was the special effects used to crossbreed feline and human figures. The proportions of their bodies to the props are off, with silverware being massive in their paws. But their “paws” are human hands and feet.
The ages of the audience in the theater with me ranged from older people, who took the movie very seriously, some even brought to tears from the more emotional scenes, to teenagers, who laughed, sang, and screamed at the screen or each other. The audience also contained a few children who enthusiastically supported any violence or toilet humor.
At no point while watching “Cats” did I have any idea what was happening or what was going to happen next. The script attempted to be comical many times but the only parts that truly made me laugh were the brief moments of silence between dialogue or song when I would realize that, yes, this is really happening.
Leaving the theater, I found myself with more questions than answers. The plot, if you could call it that, was vague and hard to follow. There was no climax, no suspenseful moment leading up to a satisfying conclusion. Between characters breaking into song and 10-minute silent dance numbers, “Cats” had about three total minutes of uninterrupted dialogue.
A true cinematic standout, “Cats” will be remembered, but not for the reasons its cast and director were hoping.