Cats (2019)

cats poster 2019 movie
2.5 Overall Score
Story: 1/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 3/10

Freakish visuals are fun for a bit

Bad musical = bad movie

Movie Info

Movie Name: Cats

Studio: Working Title Films

Genre(s): Musical/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  December 16, 2019 (Premiere)/December 20, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

cats rebel wilson cockroaches

Dancing roaches…a highlight?

One night a year, the Jellicle cats gather in London for the Jellicle Ball and vie for opportunity to go the Heaviside Layer where they will receive a new life.  Newly abandoned Victoria (Francesca Hayward), finds herself amongst the Jellicles as they tell their stories and promote themselves in the hope of Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) will select them for the honor.  Unfortunately, Macavity (Idris Elba) wants to be the Jellicle Choice, and he is going about any means to make it happen…including kidnapping!  Will Old Deuteronomy be allowed to choose the true Jellicle cat or will Macavity’s plan work?

cats francesca hayward dinner table

Eat Cats up or spit it out?

Directed by Tom Hooper, Cats is a family musical fantasy movie.  The film adapts the Andrew Lloyd Webber long running 1981 musical which is a loose adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s 1939 book of poetry Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  The film was released to critical pans but quickly gained a cult following largely due to the reviews.  A remastered version of the film replaced the first release when errors in the CGI visuals were seen in the final print released to theaters.  The film won Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor (James Corden), Worst Supporting Actress (Rebel Wilson), Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Combo (Any two half-feline/half-human hairballs), and Worst Director with nominations for Worst Actress (Francesca Hayward) and Worst Supporting Actress (Judi Dench).

When the trailer for Cats was released, I (like everyone else) was both horrified and intrigued by the frightening appearance of the cast.  I had seen Cats in London and knew that it honestly wasn’t a very good musical and the story (if you even could call it that) was paper thin.  I knew I would wait and I’m glad I did.  While the horror put the screen is entertaining, Cats largely suffers from being incredibly dull.

cats taylor swift

Sorry, Taylor…no amount of “catnip” can save this movie

As mentioned, Cats is largely a number of “cats” telling their story through song and the larger story is pretty weak.  The plot might entertain children (an evil cat trying to stop the good cats), but even that is a push.  The movie boosts it a little to try to move the story along, but it just isn’t very compelling…and the fact that most of the songs are quite weak (except besides “Memories”), doesn’t even help move the movie along.

Largely you feel sorry for the cast which is for the most part good in other things.  The problem (in many big screen musicals) is attempts to cast big names who might or might not have any musical experience, and in turn, casting stage performers who might not have the screen presence needed.  Francesca Hayward is pretty lightweight as the lead and Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, and Ian McKellen are pretty poor in their roles.  Rebel Wilson and James Corden’s characters are supposed to add humor, but instead initiate groans.  Taylor Swift actually kind of works as Macavity’s seductive ally, but it is too little too late.

cats judi dench jennifer hudson

I’d like to think “Memories” by Jennifer Hudson would be a good performance…but even it didn’t hit

The visuals are the other big aspect of the film.  The stage largely made the cats through costume and make-up and placed them on scaled items.  The movie opted to give the felines digital fur and bodies that are very creepy and scale sized.  While you can’t turn away for the first part of the movie as a result, the novelty of the creepy characters wears off and the weakness of the musical becomes even more evident…when the movie has nothing to do, it goes into extended ballet sequences.

Cats is pretty awful, and it wasn’t even fun awful once you adjusted to the how the cats looked.  It is plodding, boring, and a reminder that there are so many other better musicals out there.  A little subculture arose with the movie that endorsed seeing the film while high, but I doubt any amount of weed, alcohol, or even acid would make this a good trip.  With so many musical choices (and many that are family friendly), just watch a couple clips of Cats on YouTube for fun then watch another film…it is worth it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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