If you don’t want to know what Cats is about and/or read a bunch of SPOILER-laden reviews, you best come back to this post later. I was careful to not even give it away in the title.
… you’ve been warned SPOILERS ahead …
But … is it a spoiler to say this film is an allegory for death? Poems are wide open to interpretation and this is based on T.S Elliot’s collection of poems.
This movie deals with a bunch of singing and dancing cats celebrating one of them to be chosen to … die. To be reincarnated into … another cat? Don’t know. Didn’t understand that from the lyrics and I didn’t read the poems or ever see the play. Maybe it is explained there?
Each year at the Jellicle Ball, a “wise, commanding and spiritual” cat known as Old Deuteronomy (played by Judi Dench in the 2019 film) has to choose the one cat that will enter the Heaviside Layer. The Jellicles aptly call this the “Jellicle choice”.Plot of Cats the movie: what is it about? – Radio Times
So, that’s it. That’s the entire plot of the movie: dance around this old building, eventually dance inside the building, then one cat gets chosen and poof! End credits.
Sure, it’s a musical and if you enjoy the dancing, music and singing you will be more likely to enjoy this film. My problem is that most of the music just sounded the same, save for a couple songs. The singing performances ranged from bad to … OK. I wasn’t blown away.
When you go deeper than what is on the screen and examine the allegorical meaning, it could be about the lives human beings are living. We spend our lives essentially living toward death. Depressing concept, yes, but true. So these cats, which could be symbolic for humans celebrate knowing when one of them is going to die and get to be reincarnated. It’s a joyful time to be chosen because you know what’s coming … or maybe you don’t.
The entire dramatic tension, the conflict and payoff is: which of all these cats will be chosen? In other words, none of us know when we are going to die and be reincarnated, but what if we did? Wouldn’t that be a joyful time to know we would soon get to start our lives over again?
I like the movie more when I think of it thematically and symbolically than judging it solely off the film. The execution of the theme is poor, at best, unless you just love the music and singing, then it’s awesome, so I can see why most people aren’t liking this film. Most moviegoers aren’t looking to study poetry symbolism when watching a movie.
Deep stuff for a bunch of singing, dancing pseudo-human cats, but maybe it makes the viewing experience more meaningful.
Reviews by Others
We know it wasn’t my kind of tail (hehe). What do other moviegoers think of Cats?
- AndersonVision: “Cats isn’t as bad as others are relating to you from what they were told. But, it’s also kinda trash.”
- Clement’s Declares: “Would I recommend Cats? I will…to a niche audience, as well as people who enjoy weird and wacky cinema regardless of the rag sheets.”
- Getting Better All The Time: “I dunno why the critics hate it. Seemed like a normal musical to me”
- Melissay: “Overall I loved this film. I think I probably liked it so much as I had prior knowledge of Cats and I knew what the plot was and that it could be quite odd at times so when watching the movie I could just appreciate it for what is was rather than criticising the plot. I left pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed the film.”
- The Profound Bartender: “Good stuff. Critics, be damned.”
Not Recommended (or on the fence)
- A Black Family Nerd: “What the hell did I just watch? This is the general sense I left the movie theater with. I know it is supposed to be this much beloved and critically acclaimed play, but I just couldn’t get into it.”
- Cent Of Thoughts: “Possibly considered one of the worst films to ever hit the silver screen, Cats is undeniably the first boring, sexually depraved, furry porno to hit theaters. Also, I refuse to say spoilers because Cats makes zero sense. “
- CineFiles Movies Reviews: “Cats is, to put it kindly, hard to watch. The humanoid manifestations of these cat characters, rendered in CGI but maintaining the general visages of the performers’ faces, has been memed to death since the trailer for the film dropped”
- Cinema Spotlight: “…one of those bad movies that is almost so bad it’s good because it’s so bizarre. Whether you want to give it a chance is up to you, but for me this is one of my favorite bad movies of the decade.”
- Emma Loggins / Fanbolt (Grade: D-): “Overall, this wasn’t my cup of tea. The music is lovely, the visuals are terrifying and unforgettable.”
- Filmera: “While pretty horrendous overall, Cats does have its moments. The dancers are undoubtedly talented and move with the fluidity of actual cats and, at times, it can be funny, but for all the wrong reasons. Ultimately, none of this was enough to salvage the dumpster fire that was this confusing and never-ending fever dream.”
- Funk’s House of Geekery (3/10): “There’s some talented performers here. The biggest anchor holding the film back is the design of the cats themselves. Just when I thought I was settling into the film – maybe we’d had a few close-ups in a row that let us think they were just costumes – and we’d be struck by how weird the characters looked”
- Hunter C. Eden: “I’m still trying to piece together what I just saw and what it all meant. Something like Cats has probably always existed in the fevered visions of hashish-eating mystics and ayahuasca-spun shamans”
- greatmartin: “Though I am glad I went to see this version of “Cats” I won’t recommend it as it is one of the many of less successful Broadway to Hollywood musicals.”
- New York Theater: “…isn’t for everyone – much of it is a cheesy, B-grade affair seemingly crafted solely to take over midnight-movie slots from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’”
- Rory Glynn (2/10): “…is about as bizarre, creepy and strange as you’d expect. A talented cast is ill-served by ugly CGI and a plot that simply isn’t suited for the screen.”
- TGWAC: “I hated Cats. I genuinely hated Cats. I had multiple moments where I was ready to leave the theater in disbelief that this movie was a estimated $95 million dollar film (not including marketing) and was this bad.”
- The Movie Grader: “Cats should be avoided at all costs.”
- Thomas Mariani: “…is obviously horrendous, yet one can’t deny it’s unique place in modern cinematic landscape.”
- The Sun: “Watch with copious amounts of meow-meow. Ludicrous, pointless and simply not good enough. Bad.”
- TIME: “…is terrible, but it’s also kind of great. And, to cat-burgle a phrase from Eliot himself, there’s nothing at all to be done about that.”
- Will You Magazine: “You know when that original design of Sonic from the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie was revealed, and everyone hated it? This whole movie is like that. Horrific, and a complete mistake for everyone involved.”
A nice mixture of reviews, including some that liked it. What are your thoughts on Cats?