I really think you either love Cats or you don’t. Maybe you have no idea what is going on and your tween is begging you to see the movie because “Taylor Swift is in it!” Is there any other reason to see this movie? Are you wondering why there is a movie about cats? Let’s start at the beginning for those who don’t know the story behind this musical into a movie about cats. If you are familiar with Cats and want to see what I thought, just scroll down.
About the Movie
Featuring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic music and a world-class cast of dancers under the guidance of Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In the Heights), the film reimagines the musical for a new generation with spectacular production design, state-of-the-art technology, and dance styles ranging from classical ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street dance to tap.
One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, the stage musical “Cats” received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981, where it played for 21 years and earned the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983, the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for an extraordinary 18 years. Since opening in London in 1981, “Cats” has continuously appeared on stage around the globe, to date having played to 81 million people in more than fifty countries and in nineteen languages. It is one of the most successful musicals of all time.
Yes, you heard that right
These cats in Cats have their own language. They all have bizarre names, like Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer or Jennyanydot. The group of cats refers to themselves as “Jellicles.” This comes from a T.S. Eliot poem. If you are not familiar with these terms, it will lead to a lot of “what are they saying?” during the movie. In case you need to know, Taylor Swift plays Bombalurina.
Cats stars James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and introduces Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in her feature film debut. This line-up is a talented one, for sure. One thing I appreciated about this cast is that they all seemed to have fun making this movie. Rebel Wilson(Jennyanydot) is always her crazy self. Jennifer Hudson(Grizabella) gave a heartfelt performance, singing the most memorable tune, Memory. Taylor Swift(Bombalurina) has a brief part, which disappointed my kiddo. But her rendition of Beautiful Ghosts through the end credits was, well, hauntingly beautiful. Watching Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward was worth it – she is a very talented dancer.
Let’s be honest – people dressed as cats are one thing. Throw a bunch of special effects in there to “enhance” that and it could be borderline creepy. I won’t lie, some effects were hard to look at. Don’t think you are seeing things – Judi Dench resembles the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz, which is hard to take in, as her part is not one of cowardice. I was not impressed with anything visually at all.
I will say this is one talented cast. But they can only work with what they have. While the music is good, the visuals can be enough to throw you off. Honestly, Cats is more of a stage production than a movie. It’s an experience, and an overly CGI’d movie version cannot match that. This is not a classic that you *have* to see.
Did I like it?
I don’t know that I would say that I didn’t like it, but I’m not sure that I would see it again, willingly. My 12-year-old cat-loving dance kid, on the other hand, would see it again. She loved the music and dancing. So take it for what it is. If you are a huge Cats/musical fan, go see this movie. If you are looking for an epic remake of a classic live theater performance, steer clear. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t as awful as it could have been. The only thing memorable might be Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of Memory.