Cats Movie Adaptation is an On-Screen Catastrophe

In the extremely unlikely case that for some reason whoever is reading this did not want to see the movie Cats, let me enlighten you. 

The movie version of Cats is based on the musical Cats which is based on a poetry collection by the renowned English poet T. S. Eliot. Cats, the musical, premiered in London and was a smash hit, running in the city’s famous West End theatre for 21 years and on New York City’s Broadway for 18 years. The Broadway version of Cats won seven Tonys, the highest award a Broadway show can win. 

Cats is about, well, cats. Most of the cats are so-called “Jellicles,” (a gibberish word that means they’re part of a stray cat clan that lives on the streets of London). Every year, the eldest picks one deserving cat to go to the cat version of Heaven. There’s a reason why the list of movies starring half-human half-animal characters is short — it just looks weird. No matter how much money you spend on special effects, nothing you do will make a human-animal hybrid look good. I actually started to feel sorry for the special effects artists who worked on Cats, simply for the fact that the task they were given was seemingly impossible. 

What struck me as the oddest and most unsettling aspect of the human-cats was the way that the animators appeared to pick and choose human and cat features, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Cat ears and a tail were a must, of course, but when it came to paws, the special effects team opted for human hands and feet instead, but still covered in cat fur like they were paws. They also apparently decided that breasts were an absolutely essential aspect of human anatomy to include. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the actors’ performances. From both seasoned and serious actors like Judi Dench and Idris Elba to non-actors like Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift, the acting in Cats was universally excellent. Each actor managed to completely and evocatively embody whichever cat they were playing, from Jennifer Hudson’s wounded Grizabella to James Corden’s ridiculous Bustopher Jones. But no matter how much dedication the actors gave their roles, and how much meowing, tail-flicking, and ear-twitching they did, they couldn’t quite save Cats from its own blandness. 

You might be wondering: how could a movie about cats, played by humans, set on the streets of London, complete with a bizarre score and an even more bizarre storyline be bland? Yet somehow, impossible as it may seem, Cats is bland. As I left the movie theater, I waited to feel some type of strong emotion about Cats, one way or another. I was surprised to find that I felt nothing at all. This could be for a multitude of reasons. My personal theory is that musicals simply aren’t meant to be made into movies. There’s an atmosphere that is created when you watch real people sing in real time on a real stage that just can’t be replicated on the cold silver screen at Shattuck Cinemas. Without seeing it live on stage, the show is reduced to adults singing gibberish in fury suits.

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