“Cats” is a horror show from my oddest nightmares

“Cats” is almost indescribable, and I left the movie unsure if I was even fully lucid.

by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Opinion Editor

President Trump has been impeached, but he’s still in office and tweeting like a petulant toddler whose favorite toy has been taken away. I put moisturizer on twice or more a day, but my face is still dry. Medicine has a half-life, and I truly have no idea what that means. All of these facts are true in our current world, yet somehow, there is nothing more outrageously nonsensical than “Cats”: the movie. Literally, there is nothing in this ever-expanding universe that makes less sense than what my eyes just witnessed. As someone whose brain loves and functions on all things truly chaotic, one would think I mean this in a positive way. Dear reader, you have no idea how much it pains me to say that I did not like “Cats”. Nay, I truly feared “Cats”. With everything in me, I have a deep loath and horror for this film.

The movie begins with Francesca Howard’s Victoria, a cat that enjoys ballet, leaping and cat-human crawling her way through cat-themed London. Make no sense? Good! It never will. She finds a squad of cats, who are celebrating, as tonight is the Jellicle Choice. What is the Jellicle choice? Apparently, it is a night where one old cat, played by Dame Judy Dench, chooses a sad, piteous Jellicle cat to be reincarnated into a better, cooler cat with a nicer life. You might think to yourself, what? Also, huh? Or maybe, what is a Jellicle cat? It is never explained! But the audience is to assume it is a great honor. 

Then, we are taken into a home, where Rebel Wilson is waiting with a prepared musical number. Why you ask? Well, how else is she to be chosen as the Jellicle choice! Oh, I apologize. Did I not mention it? The cat to be reincarnated is chosen by the best musical number. So Rebel Wilson’s cat performs a number, in which there are rats played by visibly-human children, and dozens of visibly-human dancing cockroaches, who form a dancing chorus line atop a cake. During this scene, Rebel Wilson actually unzips her fur and has on a fun dress and her real (?) fur underneath. She also makes several cat puns. This is common throughout the movie. Needless to say, this was when I realized I had actually, physically entered my worst nightmare.

Rebel Cat Wilson’s performance was cut short, as magical Idris Cat Elba (whose cat name is Macavity, because all the cats have multiple names and they sang a song about that very fact) came. He then did a flourish with his hands, which caused her to end up chained to a boat on the River Thames. Why, you may ask? Because he is evil, and wants to be the Jellicle choice so he can have a new cat life! By this point, I was hunched over the large pecan pie my friend Maddie snuck in the theatre, wondering if it had been five minutes or two hours. When watching Cats: The Movie, there is no time. Only horror and bewilderment. 

Now, I can not tell you how long into the movie this was, as I no longer felt attached to my corporeal form. However, I can say that this was only in the beginning. This was followed by James Cat Corden, whose cat name I also forgot (upon googling, it is Bustopher Jones), who sang a song about how much he enjoys food from the trash, and then was poofed away by, you guessed it, Idris Cat Elba’s Macavity. That sentence makes as much sense to you as it does to me. Jason Cat Derulo sang a song about milk and dancing. However, the vast majority of the performance was impossible to understand over his failed attempt at an English accent. For some reason, he was not whooshed away by Idris Cat Elba. I wish he was. 

Meanwhile, Victoria is still there. Somehow, she is the least enjoyable part. Her dancing is wonderful, and whoever the choreographer is did an extraordinary job overall. However, she is the worst because she is so very boring. Her melancholy hope fills me with disdain, and the only time she was slightly interesting is when she went into the human house with the two mischevious cat twins, named Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser, and stole jewelry. Then, she was saved by the Magician cat (not Idris Cat Elba, but another cat named Mr. Mistofolees) with whom she now has a romantic subplot, because what is a female lead without a male protagonist to save the day? Maybe a more interesting or engaging one, but I digress.

One redeeming factor was Jennifer Hudson’s ability to struggle-sing. JHud can struggle-sing extraordinarily well. She won an Oscar for struggle-singing all the way through Dreamgirls, and it shows! Her (cat name: Grizzabella) version of “Memory” had so much pain, one could imagine that it was about so much more than just wanting to be reborn into a new cat life, free from the restraints of whatever Idris Cat Elba did to her. However, I was distracted because boring, naive Victoria kept cutting in and trying to make it a duet, and over the course of the movie, it seemed the CGI team gave up, and there was no fur on JHud’s face. Only poorly applied white face paint under her eyes and whiskers. 

My favorite musical number was from Railroad Cat, also known as Skimbleshanks, played by Steven McRae.He might have the worst cat name of all of them, but he tapped his way right into my heart. I don’t know if it was the inner studio dancer in me or my utter fatigue by this point in the movie, but it was truly delightful. Again, wonderful choreography. Les Twins were in it, who won World of Dance and danced backup for Beyonce, and I love to see them. I even recognized them in their horrific cat fur CGI disaster outfits. 

In fact, that was the most horrific part of Cats: the Movie. The CGI effects were so awful, that the director Tom Hooper is currently in the process of re-releasing the movie with better visual effects. There were several times when I wondered why they would invest $95 million in this movie I wondered how they could have invested this much money and not animated the actor’s human hands saw purely human hands. I saw human skin. Jennifer Hudson’s acrylic nails. Dame Judy Dench’s wedding ring. I hate it here. How could they do this? 

All in all, I give CATS: the Movie zero out of five stars. I left very confused, with no real understanding of what happened. According to renowned STA theatre alumna Margaret Jordahl, the issue was that they invented Victoria, gave Macavity a speaking role, and tried to create a plot. Apparently, in the original, there is no plot. I think unadulterated chaos would have been better than slightly-moderated chaos.