A cat is abandoned in London and learns about a group of cats called the Jellicle cats. Periodically they have a talent show to determine who goes to heaven to be reborn and that is tonight, but the evil McCavity wants to hijack the show. Can the rightful cat be chosen before it’s too late? Find out in… Cats… it’s about cats. Let’s go!
How?! Victoria is not a Jellicle cat. She’s just a cat dropped into a Jellicle world of London. All the cats dance and sing about how they are Jellicle cats and Victoria is like “damn, that’s cool. I wish I were Jellicle,” but she isn’t. The cats let her know that tonight is a very special night because Old Deuteronomy is in town and ready to judge a cat talent show and send one cat to heaven to be reborn into the life they’ve always dreamed of. There is this one cat that is kinda fat and makes mice and cockroaches sing. Then there is like a more R&B cat who’s breaking all the rules. Then there is another fat cat that loves to eat… that’s kind of his thang. Then there is a mysterious cat called Macavity who is the bad guy who is trying to hijack the competition by kidnapping the competition to make sure he wins (oh no!). Victoria briefly gets entangled with some cat burglar cats, but Mr. Mistoffelees comes in and saves the day, phew. Victoria also takes pity on a rejected cat, Grizabella, who used to pal around with Macavity and so all the Jellicle cats hate her, but Victoria is like “her story is sad, yet beautiful… like life and/or dance.” When the competition starts, an old cat named Gus sings a song (but come on, he ain’t winning). Then Taylor Swift cat sings a song and everyone is mesmerized, allowing for Macavity to swoop in and demand to win. When denied by Old Deuteronomy he kidnaps her and forces her to walk the plank into the Thames. Everyone is like “but wait, Mr. Mistoffelees is a magical cat… get her back.” And he sings a song and is real sad cause he think it didn’t work, but guess what? It did. In the end, Victoria convinces Grizabella to sing and it’s beautiful and she wins and flies up in a hot air balloon and everyone’s heads explode in confusion and glee for the wonderful cats and the newly minted Jellicle cat, Victoria. THE END. Big Question: What is this about? Oh wait… it’s about cats. Also, how does this exist?
Why?! Motivation, shmotivation. Let’s just appreciate that this exists and is in our lives. Sure they all want to win the competition because they want to have all their dreams come true by being born into the life they were destined for, but also, like, it’s about cats and they did it all for us the viewer.
Who?! Secret Twins Alert! We actually had been eyeing this film as a twin film for a potential twin cycle and so it’s still important to point out that Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer are twin cat burglars. There is also a brief appearance of cats called Plato and Socrates that are probably twins… or at least they are played by Les Twins who are twins in real life (duh). Oh and Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson and Jason Derulo and a million ballerinas are in the film too.
What?! Back in 2000, once the musical had completed its legendary run on Broadway, it auctioned off all of the set pieces for the benefit of charity. Which is kinda cool. Even cooler would have been getting my paws on some of those Cats wigs. They would immediately become part of my new bowling team, The Jellicle Cats and we’d be pretty feisty. I doubt the film will have a similarly celebrated prop auction so I’m just biding my time to get my hands on… I guess the motion capture leotards? Damn you, technology.
Where?! Obviously set in London as evidence from the scenery, accents, and most notably the Thames. They even go out of their way to make a Thames pronunciation joke for us Yankees. How fun. Pretty important, but not that important. B.
When?! From the set pieces you assume that this is set in the past but it’s never made exactly clear. They don’t seem particularly interested in establishing anything other than what a Jellicle cat is and all the interesting Jellicle cats… and you’re probably like “Jamie, what is a Jellicle cat?” and I’ll tell you… it’s a Jellicle cat. Cat! It’s about cats! F.
Cats is a wild ride of both the best and worst CGI you’ve ever seen. Seriously, one second you are amazed at the visual splendor and then next terrified by the horrible cat monsters. It’s also a very expensive film made for the twelve biggest Cats fans in the world (and no one else). Theater geeks are going to be thrilled by it. The rest of humanity will just be confused. For me it was so weird and great and confusing and I was watching ballet and tapdance and shit for two hours and I couldn’t understand how it all came to exist or if it was good or bad or if it didn’t matter. It’s as if Rocky Horror started out as a $200 million Christmas release and the creators were like “wait… why didn’t people see our great movie?” What I’m saying is that they made a major motion picture cult film. It will lose them a lot of money, but there is a chance people are sitting in theaters throwing tuna fish at the screen in ten years. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I’m pretty stunned people find Cats to have an odd story. Like … Beautiful Cat meets the Jellicle Cats who sing and dance about themselves, and then Old Cat picks Downtrodden Cat to be the Special Cat. The End. Seems really straightforward. Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – I was actually really amazed by the cast for the film. Given all of the previews focused on the big names (Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, and Jennifer Hudson in particular) I had kind of assumed the cast was top to bottom big names. But the main three cats are ballerinas or no name actors, and even a lot of the other cats are directly from the stage production from what I can tell. It feels like a good decision on their part, but then again, we’re watching it for BMT so maybe not. What were my expectations? A wild visual ride. A mind-meltingly weird film. And some terrible CGI. That seems to be it, just a weird weird film with bad CGI mostly.
The Good – When you watch this film you are watching film history. It is such a bizarre choice to release a wildly expensive adaptation of Cats. The songs are obviously very good, and a lot of moments make you think “wow, this is beautiful”. The side cats are quite good, like Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer in particular worked well despite coming directly from theater (I think). As a matter of fact the acting is all rather good. Even the bits that might not have worked (Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, and Taylor Swift) all mostly work in my opinion.
The Bad – But holy shit, at times the CGI is just some of the worst stuff you’ll ever see. The entire Gumbie Cat song with Rebel Wilson is extremely bad. I thought it was bad with the creepy children mice, but then the line dancing cockroaches … it sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not. If the background was kept as CGI and everyone was in costumes it might have worked, but the CGI ends up being so distracting at times that you can’t help but think “yeah, they should have waited a bit to release this”. It got around 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, and that sounds right, but the base story is like a 60-70% film, it really just is impossible not to downgrade the film for the technical issues it presented. I also guessed the original song based solely on the Les Miz Criteria: The worst song in a film adapting a famous musical is the original one. Victoria’s Song, nailed it. Finally, I don’t know if it is the same as in the original production, but the first rendition of Memories is so low-key as to be boring. I was honestly stunned that that was it when it ended. That feels bad.
The BMT – I think in 15 years when they release this as an “update” instead of a “remake” we’ll know we’ve made film history. Hear me out: the expensive bit of paying all of the actors and the giant production is done. The CGI is obviously expensive, but you could “remake” the film by just updating the CGI in 15 years using the base footage. I honestly think it is possible that is the future. Instead of re-releasing Disney animated classics as live action, we’ll start seeing things like Toy Story “updated” to use modern CGI techniques and released as “new” movies to a new generation. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, although I expected it to be worse. I guess I shouldn’t have really, it is a famous musical production for a reason, the songs are just going to be bangers no matter what. The CGI is mind meltingly bad, but book it: it’ll be updated in the future and people will say “you know what? Cats ain’t so bad”.
Roast-radamus – Definitely gets a Setting as a Character (Where?) for London which is very much a huge part of all of the sets. And Best MacGuffin (Why?) as well think for the general purpose of the entire film being to rise to the Heaviside Layer. As Jamie points out there is a Best Twin Film (Who?) possibility here with both Les Twins and the characters of Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer being twins. That’s a twin heavy film for sure.
StreetCreditReport.com – Obviously a huge amount of street cred. First, the trailer broke the internet (as the kids say) producing what scientists claim is the creepiest of all possible valleys. Second, it is a colossal financial failure (especially if the rumored budget of like $300 million is correct, but … it couldn’t possibly be, right?). And finally, the critics are loving to hate it, unloading all of their best cat puns on unsuspecting readers. It didn’t make the AV Club list, possibly because the list was released prior to Cats and never updated. But Variety specifically updated their list to include it, and the Hollywood Reporter also has it. It is a true triple threat.
BMT Live Theater Report – A secret BMT Live indeed. It isn’t official, but obviously I had to go out and see the film in theaters. And boy oh boy it was a wild ride. Again, I was in a small theater at Vue in Westfield, so it was nearly sold out when I arrived (!). It was 6pm on a Monday, so obviously the theater was filled with children. And there was a boy there who was not having a good time. First, his brother ate all the popcorn like 10 minutes before the movie started, so he was running in and out of the theater up through 15 minutes of the movie trying to find his mother/nanny to complain about it. Then he was literally walking around at parts because he was bored. And then, after getting upset again about something his brother did, he started intentionally making a ruckus until his mother/nanny pulled him out of the theater … but then he came back in alone! To be fair, it didn’t really affect my viewing experience, Cats is wall to wall music with not much storyline, so it was more like a little side show I got to enjoy. But by far the most disruptive theater experience I’ve ever been in, D.