The Reel Review
Did someone just drop acid in my soda? Because what I just witnessed was the most head-spinningly awful, PTSD-inducing, trippy “musical” ever to besmirch a movie screen. It prompts the question: does director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) really hate composer Andrew Lloyd Webber that much?
First let’s discuss the strange premise behind this adaptation of Webber’s popular Broadway musical. It is about a group of cats called the Jellicles, who compete (a la song and dance) to be chosen by Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) for a spot in the hereafter – sort of a bizarre, twisted take on the 70s sci-fi film, Logan’s Run. Oh Judi, please dear God, don’t let this be your final film.
Most of the movie consists of actors prancing around all Fosse-like, belting out forgettable tunes, covered in CGI “fur.” The story literally makes NO sense whatsoever, and is even unsettling. Among the things I wish I could “unsee:” A mangy-looking Ian McKellan lapping up milk from a saucer, children’s faces bizarrely superimposed on dancing cockroaches and mice (WTF!?!), and Idris Elba dancing around in a furry black catsuit liked a super horned up stoner at a FurCon convention. (So much for those rumors of him being the next James Bond.) This is the stuff of night terrors, people.
There is one single saving grace to this epic disaster of a musical – Jennifer Hudson’s FINAL performance of “Memories.” (Yes, she sings it more than once.) Like a cat waiting at an open door, it takes an ETERNITY to get her to come in, but once she does, she kills it. But save yourself. Download the song. Do not see this God-awful hairball of a movie. Ever.
• The stage version of Cats is the 4th longest running show in Broadway history and the 6th longest running show in London’s West End.
• Judi Dench was cast in the original 1981 London stage production of Cats in the dual roles of Jennyanydots and Grizabella, but was replaced at the last minute by Elaine Paige due to an injury.
• T. S. Eliot’s book, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the basis for the play and movie, is widely quoted by Peter Ustinov in 1976’s Logan’s Run. (See? There IS a Logan’s Run connection!)