“Cats”: cat-astrophically awkward and confusing

Ariana Negron

“Cats”, the musical typically known for being one of Broadway’s most famous shows, was turned into a movie. With star appearances from Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, and more, you would hope the movie would own up to its great Broadway reputation. The movie came out on December 20th, 2019 and from the start the reviews were terrible, so I decided to see for myself. 

My initial impression was that it was extremely cringey, with me looking away every few seconds throughout the movie. Watching human faces and bodies with cat-like features walking and dancing was creepy to say the least. I think with a 95 million dollar budget the CGI could have been better when blending the human faces with the fur to make it seem less like a demon I’d see while half awake. Also, the concept of these characters being cats, but then standing on two legs walking and dancing ballet was completely outrageous to me because not only does it look gross, it’s also unrealistic. As the two hour movie progressed, I fortunately found it easier to watch the movie without immediately feeling unsettled. The actors made weird movements that I think were supposed to portray cat mannerisms, but they came off very awkward. They also use a lot of cat puns and never go more than 10 lines without jumping back into a song. I understand it’s a musical, but you should usually be able to have a conversation over a few minutes before jumping back to a song. For me, the small things like how they would have one of their short conversations and the characters would go from speaking to hissing bothered me.

The plot confused me at first because prior to watching, I had read the synopsis, “A tribe of cats must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.” The summary seemed very broad to me… a little too broad that it led me to be very confused about the plot throughout the film. I thought it would be some sort of trial and that the Heaviside layer would possibly be a place on land that they’d have to visit, but that’s actually very different from what actually happened. I think making the synopsis so broad contributed to the poorly-made film. People went in with different assumptions about the most simple parts of the movie—leaving many viewers’ minds scrambled. 

Elba plays the antagonist that wanted the new life to himself. He frequently uses magic to kidnap—or catnap—the other contestants. This confused me a lot because I thought this was going to be about regular cats, not wizard cats that can teleport, but they also danced on two legs and had perfectly-sized holes in their hats for their ears, so I guess this movie is not really trying to portray actual cats. 

Hudson played the cat who ended up winning. She was a cat that was kicked out of the group because she joined forces with Elba’s character. Hudson’s character was one of the most popular cats and then when she left she became an outcast—because he’s evil—and then she became homeless. The protagonist, which was a new cat to the group, saw her and felt like she deserved a second chance. The movie ended up with Hudson taking a hot air balloon to the sky, which left me confused. Did they just KILL her?

This being said, the movie is entertaining—just not in a good way. Not like Marvel movies or a cinematic masterpiece, but like “I have nothing better to do, so we can watch this and make fun of it after.” The only redeeming part was Wilson’s comedic addition to the very serious film (about dancing cats) and some of the vocals like Jason Derulo’s amazing voice. Overall, there is no real reason for this movie being made, I would have had a very happy life without seeing human cats shake on the floor after dancing, 10 out of 10 would go back in time and stop myself from watching.