At the Movies Blog

I hate cats. Yet it’s not my hatred of felines that will lead me to give this a bad review. I’m the only critic in the country that put the Key & Peele movie Keanu on my Top 10 of the year list in 2016. It’s about a cat that goes missing, and is adopted by a local gang.

I loved the villain in From Russia With Love stroking a cat while he threatened James Bond, as well as the parody Mike Myers did with the cat in Austin Powers. I’ve dealt with girlfriends that had cats I couldn’t tolerate (one with three legs often attacked me unprovoked).

In the early ‘90s, I was working for a morning radio show, and the news director and I went to England. One day we were walking through a park in London and saw the prettiest girls playing a softball game. Naturally, we stopped and chatted them up. We soon learned they were in the cast of Cats. When one of them explained the premise to me…that they were T.S. Eliot poems that Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote songs based on and people played cats…it sounded goofy. Yet I wasn’t well-versed on what works on stage. And I figured they did something right because Cats was the longest running Broadway show ever 

Director Tom Hooper gave us the miserable Les Miserables and The Danish Girl. Now, I do like what he did with The King’s Speech, but after watching Cats, which my wife and I agree was the worst experience we’ve had in a movie this year (I contend in five years)…I’m hoping Hooper is declawed, and is no longer able to write or direct again; or if he does, at least stay away from musicals.

If you’ve seen the trailers, and laughed at them like we all did, you know the dancers covered in their digital fur…look rather odd. My wife kept talking about the cats having breasts, but I think they changed that up for the movie, since they weren’t as noticeable. Same with the male anatomy (not that I was specifically looking for it, but…many times cats spread their legs or threw a leg into the air so…you couldn’t help but look).

A “cat movement specialist” named Sarah Dowling was brought in for this film, but that just made things even creepier. Seeing these human/cat hybrid people, sniffing each other, and acting like they were about to mate…was just weird.

Andy Blankenbuehler did the choreography, and at times that was impressive. Between that, and some of the background businesses with various cat names, that’s about all the movie had going for it.

I’m not sure I got the plot, but I’ll take a stab at it. A cat (Francesca Hayward) is abandoned on a London Street. She meets a society of “Jellicle Cats” who have a sort of…”Cats Got Talent” competition, hoping that Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), gives them a new life.

There are some Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson), and we get weird dances with mice and cockroaches. Jenny says “It’s dinner and a show” which is a slightly cute line, but most of the jokes landed with a thud. At one point a character says “cat got your tongue?” and not a person in the audience laughed.

At first I smiled when Bustopher Jones (James Corden), came in with a top hat and arrogance. It’s a role Corden probably loved doing. It’s a shame his dance number got boring after 20 seconds. In fact, most of this movie was boring.

Jason Derulo plays Rum Tum Tugger.

Ian McKellen was okay as Gus the Theatre Cat.

Laurie Davidson is a bit bizarre as Mr. Mistofelees, who is the magician of the group.

Jennifer Hudson is the only cast member I don’t blame for doing this garbage, because it’s not like there are a lot of roles out there for someone with a voice like hers. She plays Grizabella, the poor cat that roams the streets (and gets the showstopping number — “Memory”).

And how bad must the direction be if you have Idris Elba and make him unattractive? That’s mostly due to the bizarre green eyes he was sporting, as a character named Macavity, who wants to win the competition and is willing to kill rivals to get there.

Taylor Swift plays Bombalurin, a showgirl cat that introduces Macavity to us. Now, if you’re not familiar with the source material, and think these character names sound stupid, the song lyrics and dialogue is just as bad.

I couldn’t decide what a better conclusion would be — to say that I’d rather clean a cat’s litter box than watch this, or…when Nick Fury gets his eye scratched out by a cat in Captain Marvel, well…to have that cat scratch out both eyes to keep you from having to watch this mess…would be rather welcome.

0 stars. 


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