Walking into the theater to see “Cats,” I was experiencing a peculiar mix of fear and giddiness. I remember seeing the first trailer for the movie and just recoiling at the sheer horror that was in front of my eyes.
The offputting motion capture and the alarmingly sultry movements of the performers with all the licking and purring really made for -- what I thought was going to be -- a life-changing cinematic experience.
I had high hopes for this movie. I have never tried psychedelics before, so I thought maybe this movie would be a healthy substitute. Watching disaster movies like these give me a sort of indescribable rush that is comparable to a drug high.
You can only envision my childlike glee upon seeing a trailer for a movie that features Idris Elba dancing around while covered head-to-toe in fur with cat ears and walking into a nearly completely empty theater on the day of the release with my equally morbid friend.
Imagine my utter shock and disappointment to find that not only did I not hate “Cats,” but that I actually...kind of liked it.
Don’t get me wrong. This movie is not very good. Many other reviews of this movie have already made that point very clear, but the reviews calling the film a “void of horny confusion” and a “eternal punishment” are, in my opinion, incredibly hyperbolic.
Watching the first 20 minutes of the movie was definitely the closest experience I got to an acid trip. The opening section of the movie introduces you to all the madness, at first you’d think that the performers aren’t cats but are just wearing weird fetish outfits and engaging in their nightly “ritual” -- to put it nicely.
But I found that as time went on, my initial hesitance to accept the world of “Cats” started to slowly drift away. I cannot for the life of me tell you when that happened, nor do I think I want to, but at some point I just sort of shrugged and told myself, “Sure, they’re cats so that’s why they act weird.”
But enough about the performers, everyone really seems to only talk about how they looked weird without mentioning the other aspects of this movie that are noteworthy.
First off, the music is very good. It is the best part of the movie as far as I’m concerned. Jennifer Hudson completely stole the show with her tear-jerking rendition of “Memory” that gave me chills. There are also some other memorable hits in the movie, with my personal favorite being “Mr. Mistoffelees” performed by Laurie Davidson that has an earworm of a hook that will have you humming while walking out of the theater.
The leading woman, Francesca Hayward, gave a great performance in her breakout role in both her choreography and singing ability.
However, with all that said, I don’t give the film much credit for excelling in this category since it is a remake of a Broadway musical. The music has already been made, so it isn’t much of an achievement for the film to have good music that was already composed for them.
The setting was visually interesting as well, with each set piece having many elaborate details hidden in every corner that bring the streets of 1930s London to life. But, yet again, that isn’t exactly hard to do when virtually every backdrop and set piece is computer generated into existence.
My biggest criticisms of the movie have to do with the design choices of the characters as well as some of the editing of the scenes.
While I mentioned how the design of the characters didn’t bother me, I couldn’t help but feel that it could have been better.
In a musical like “Cats,” I would argue that less is more and instead of having the performers completely draped in CGI fur, practical costumes and makeup would have been a better choice. Of course that maybe wouldn’t quell most people’s disgust at the oddly sexual mannerisms of the performers but it may have made it tolerable.
The editing, especially in the first act of the film, doesn’t help audiences adjust, as it is too quick-paced and doesn’t allow the eyes to settle in. This isn’t helped by the fact that some of the CGI was not even fully rendered into the film, making the movie unfinished.
Overall, the movie did not make me want to rip my eyes out which is good, but it wasn’t enough to really recommend to the average viewer.
In fact, I’m starting to hate this movie the more I think about it. I’d say that if you are looking to just satisfy your morbid curiosity, you won’t walk out traumatized. I maintain that while this film has decent qualities that help elevate it, “Cats” is a movie that did not need to be made and will ultimately be forgotten (or should I say, fur-gotten).