When the trailer for “Cats” debuted in July, alarm bells were already ringing for audiences nationwide. The CGI plastering of actors’ faces on cat bodies and the absurd dramatic style immediately put off all who caught a glimpse online or in movie theaters.
Based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of the same name, “Cats” was directed by Tom Hooper, who also directed the 2012 adaptation of the musical “Les Misérables.”
“We built this world at sort of three times scale so that humans could be looking at cats’ relation with the world,” Hooper said in an Observer article. “My great dream with the visual effects was to find a way to make the actors feline while preserving their faces and their real performances.”
Set in London and filled with an A-list cast including James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson, Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift (who also wrote an original song for the film), “Cats” follows a fictional tribe of cats called the Jellicles.
After discovering an outsider cat named Victoria (Francesca Hayward), each member of the tribe takes turns sharing their characteristics and attempting to earn the title of “Jellicle Choice,” ascending to the “Heaviside Layer” and earning a new life. Notable tribe members include the glamor cat Grizabella (Hudson), magical Mister Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) and the tribe leader Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench).
Other than this general idea, “Cats” is relatively plotless. There is little to no conflict encountered at any point during the 109-minute running time, and much of the live spectacle and excitement that made the original musical production compelling are lost on the big screen.
In addition, the movie raised many questions that were left unanswered, such as: Why do the cats have human ligaments? Why are some of the cats wearing fur coats? Why do the cats suddenly appear in potato sacks throughout the film?
Perhaps the worst aspect of “Cats” is the cats themselves. The bodies and faces of the CGI humanoid animals border on horrifying, and the familiar faces of celebrities appear to be mangled by the computer-generated fur and whiskers.
“The cat graphics deeply frightened me and to this day, haunt my nightmares,” Georgia Goldberg ‘23 said. “I was deeply confused as to why the cats had human hands and feet, and this element nauseated me. I did not laugh at any of the jokes in the movie; I only laughed to keep myself from falling into a deep state of terror.”
Once viewers are over the visual horrors of the film, “Cats” turns out to be incredibly boring. The main theme becomes very old and worn out after just a few cats’ musical sequences.
“Cats” is simply a mistake of a film. There was no good way to adapt this utterly bonkers musical (based on the premise of cats competing to die) to the big screen without major edits, but this adaptation has managed to make it so much worse. “Cats” has no redeeming qualities and is hilarious in all the wrong ways.