Cats is a pretty bad movie, even if you're a cat 

Litter Box

click to enlarge Why aren’t their, um, “paws” furry, too?

Courtesy Universal Pictures

Why aren’t their, um, “paws” furry, too?

My roommate Kevin and I rarely get out to the cinema to see movies ... but I finally snuck myself into the Terrace to see the film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. How I got in, I'll never tail.

Anyway, so I was sitting in a theater filled with young families, an older couple, and a few snarky jackasses like my roommate. By the way, last I wrote an article, I unfairly ripped into and stereotyped furries in my heated catpile on the film's trailer. My apologies on that one.

The movie starts and we hear this magical twinkly music that always reminds me of dear old Crookshanks.

So far, so good. Granted that was only 40 seconds in ...

Immediately, we see a faceless asshole woman toss a bag that has what I'm assuming is a cat and, voila, it is our main character, Victoria (Francesca Hayward). She is being watched and approached by a bunch of other curious cats.

click to enlarge Hank, cat and City Paper guest film critic - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Hank, cat and City Paper guest film critic

Up until that very moment, I had not seen these "cats" on a big screen. On my roommate's laptop it looked possibly horrific and funny. I can say the moment I saw the head catman, Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild), on the big screen skulking around on his arms and legs, I was in a catatonic state. I'm not trying for a kickass pun here. I was genuinely disturbed.

From there, we meet a cat. Said cat sings about himself and his radness while the other cats do these sultry Bob Fosse walks. After that we meet another cat. This one also sings about herself and her radness while the other cats do those sultry Bob Fosse walks. Then we meet another cat ... Do you see a pattern? It's wash, rinse, repeat with slight moments of action like a cat being kidnapped or possibly Thanosed out of existence by Idris Elba.

We also find out that these cats are magical "jellicle" cats but never find out anything past that. We find out one will be chosen for a really great reward that essentially sounds like death.

Then we're treated to Rebel Wilson eating roaches that have human faces and mice with baby faces singing. And then Dame Judi Dench pops up looking like Bert Lahr's cowardly lion wearing a ring. Jason Derulo shakes his CG-edited crotch while Taylor Swift shakes her CG bosom. Cats get horny.

click to enlarge giphy.gif

Not an hour in and I already found myself wishing I could bolt out of there and duck into Paddock & Whiskey next door. It's just too much. I'm all for external stimuli and even absurd shit, but this transcended that.

At this point in the viewing my eyes looked through the screen and thought of something more pleasant — that GIF of Jerry Seinfeld leaving the theater. How I envied GIF Jerry.

I have so many questions. But I'll try to keep it to a few.

Why do some cats wear clothes but others don't? With all the technology at their disposal, why didn't the studio just do animated cats for the film version? Even if it looked clunky, it would have been way less off-putting for sure.

Why did Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) during her big "Memories" number have a bit of wet stuff on her nose? I kept getting scary flashbacks to Messy Tessie from The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.

Why are y'all sexualizing us? Why?! Why?! That's so weird! I mean yeah I've gotten my share of pussycat in my time but I, and all the other felines I know, never walked around in unison making horny noises and shaking our tails that way.

Also, don't pretend to get us. It's OK, filthy humans, you don't need to get us. We definitely don't get you, and we're fine with that.

In the end, I feel like a sour puss for being so down on this movie. Part of me feels bad for everyone top to bottom because this project had been in gestation since Spielberg himself expressed a fleeting interest in it during the musical's heyday. I think, for a money-grubbing movie studio, they likely had the best intentions.

You know, this reminded me of another bewildering movie adaptation that bombed during the Christmas season, David Lynch's Dune. That too relied on the source material's fans to come along for the overstuffed, mildly disturbing, trippy journey. This, like Dune, will garner a cult following from idiots like my roommate.

If anything it made me appreciate T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats a little more. And as much as I'm unnerved by this whole thing, I'm still going to see the musical when it comes to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. If anything, so I can see how this stacks up against the source material. Besides, at least there it makes sense seeing humans in catsuits because getting us actual cats to be in Cats would be like herding ... Cats.

Cats — Rated PG. Directed by Tom Hooper. Starring James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Francesca Hayward, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, and Rebel Wilson.

~RIP Lil' Bub

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