Devon Campbell / News and Opinions Editor
The movie “CATS” is a broadway-to-movie adaptation that leaves a permanent stain on this genre of films forever. Gone is the charm of films like “Hairspray” or “Les Miserables”; instead, we are left with a confusing mess of a movie. The movie is long, largely uninteresting and fails in some of the weirdest ways that I’ve ever seen.
The plot weaves a hard-to-follow tale about gangs and death through musical theater. The movie opens with a musical number about whether or not our main protagonist, Victoria, played by world–renowned ballerina Francesca Hayward, can fit in with the rest of the street gang, called the “Jellicle Cats.” The song, “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” outlines explicitly what it takes to be a part of this group of felines. The questions ultimately boil down to, “are you a cat?” To which the main protagonist answers, “Yes, I am a cat,” and the movie continues.
The film seems to have a very hard focus on death, as the gang competes in what is essentially a musical theatre competition. The winner of said competition gets to die, which is an unexpected philosophical turn in a musical about literal alley cats.
The characters feel like they have no place in the movie. There are too many that fit into the same tropes that others also fit into, splitting the spotlight between them. They are so forgettable that even after the movie ends, their names seem to escape memory. The director wants us to care about these characters but doesn’t give us a proper context to make us have an emotional connection with them.
The entire scene with Jennyanydots, played by Rebel Wilson, has no point other than to signify the “obsessed with food” trope. There’s a possibility that she would stand out more if it wasn’t done again later with Bustopher Jones, played by James Corden.
Musically, the movie leaves an absurd amount to be desired. The songs, long and oddly structured, often do not properly give context to the characters singing them.
However, I will give the movie credit: Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, played by Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan, respectively, have a well-placed musical number that properly introduces the comedic and mischievous nature of the two characters.
Occasionally, the songs will take a weird turn, writing-wise. When a song is typically written with an “ABAB” rhyme scheme, it is important that the distance between the “A” and “B” is short enough that the audience can register that the lines are related, but long enough so as not to have them as part of the same bar. CATS only does the latter by having run-on sentences in verses that, more often than not, cause the original “A” rhyme to be forgotten by the time the “B” rhyme comes around. Genre-wise, the songs like to jump around, including in the middle of the song. At one point, the opening song hops between show tune, ballad, Eurobeat, and ¾ waltz all in the span of 60 seconds. All these musical shortcomings come together to provide an unmatched sense of dissonance.
Visually, the movie is unfathomably horrifying, as the cat-human hybrids move similar to nightmarish beasts straight out of a horror movie. The computer-generated imagery is atrocious and looks unfinished. According to The Verge, many digital effects needed to be redone and patched into the movie, making the movie a sort of living document that can be disassembled and fixed like some sort of cinematic Frankenstein’s monster.
It’s unsettling how unchecked and unapologetic this movie is in being as discombobulated as it is. How this film was greenlit is beyond comprehension as it fails on every level at making good content. “CATS” almost wears this incohesiveness and lunacy as a badge of honor, proud of its nonsensical nature, for some reason. This movie isn’t “for” anybody, and honestly, I can’t recommend you see it.