Coughing up a hairball is more pleasant than being tortured watching “Cats.”
I can’t recall a more inept or poorly conceived film in recent memory than “Cats,” with the most butt-ugly visual style, laughable or nightmarish special effects, and devoid of any life or intelligence. If you put a real cat in charge of this production, I’m sure it would have done a much better job of capturing the essence of what it feels like to be a cat, instead of this joyless mess.
“Cats” is like attempting to put together a thousand-piece puzzle, only to quickly realize that the pieces you’ve been given belong to a dozen different puzzles that don’t fit together at all – it is exhausting, unnecessarily chaotic without any semblance of reason, and above all else infuriating. There is no sign of a coherent story, just random ugly “cats” that sometimes sing about how it sucks to be a “cat,” and these actors are given no room to breathe or emote so we never really learn anything about these “cats.” Some “cats” only get one or two scenes, like a James Corden “cat” that loves to eat and nothing else, or a “cat” who works on a train and sings about how much he loves trains. While other “cats” that do get more scenes always wear the same expression throughout the film, like Francesca Hayward who always has a look of dull surprise. There is no connection, no empathy for any of these “cats” – they are all blank canvases we have to watch for two hours.
If I could describe “Cats” in one word, it’d be “embarrassment.” There was certainly talent behind the screen. Tom Hooper has proven that he can direct good movies with “The King’s Speech” and even some segments of “Les Miserables.” Acting-wise, you’ve got vetern actors like Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, as well as some powerful singing voices with Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, and Taylor Swift. Even Idris Elba is given a chance as the “villain” of the “cats.” With all this great talent and people who seem to know what they’re doing, it’s all the more saddening that this is the film we got. The scenes with actors like Dench, Elba and McKellen are the more painful to watch, because there is no dignity or character to be found here – they’re so bad that even furries don’t want anything to do with this movie.
It is very rare that we get such a big mess like “Cats.” It is poorly executed at best and abysmally thrown together at worst, all on a budget that would suggest that there’s something of value. I have no clue how a film that was made for over $200 million could be as ill-conceived as this, but Hollywood continues to impress me, even on this kind of level. While I know next to nothing about the Broadway musical, I can still tell you this film isn’t worth anyone’s time or money. The only reason worth seeing this is because you want to see how bad it really gets, like I did. And even then, you’d have to be stupidly drunk or insanely high to get anything out of “Cats.”
Final Grade: F