A third of the way through Cats, I actually paused and thought to myself, “Has there ever been a more god-awful movie in the history of cinema?”
In a word—no. Nothing will ever top this crap-tastic CGI menagerie of inexplicability involving breakdancing/tap-dancing/and constantly pirouetting cats.
My realization that this was a horrific movie came about ten minutes in. That’s when the first group of people left the theater in a huff—never to be heard from again. They were the lucky ones. When the next gaggle left, I practically begged them to take me with ’em. Clearly, they didn’t hear me over the ever-present hissing happening on screen.
30 minutes in, I started hate-watching this poor film. I found the folks in the theater—the ones that were left—to be more interesting than singing felines. People around me were incessantly yawning every time a new cat character was introduced. Given the approximately 82,337 cast members in the credits, you can do the math. It’s a wonder there was any oxygen left in the building when it was over. Ill-timed, inappropriate laughter reigned supreme throughout the movie.
When I saw the musical back in 1984, Cats was the hot new thing. Andrew Lloyd Webber was reaching superstardom. And the songs were whimsically catchy. Now they seem as tired and worn out as Grisabella’s coat. Several years ago, I sat at a table next to Webber who was eating breakfast at a fancy NYC restaurant. Looking back, I should have warned him what the possible future looked like—a future that included computer-generated fur and audacious sets drowning in faux moonlight. (And don’t even get me started on the shaky-cam cinematography. The camera bobbed and weaved so much I’m surprised audience members weren’t given mandatory air sickness bags.)
If you’re wondering how the performances were, I’ll say this much: Rebel Wilson was committed to her wildly unflattering fat-cat role. James Corden provided approximately 22 seconds of much-needed comedic relief. Taylor Swift pops in for a cameo towards the end as a feral villainess. All the other characters—including Dame Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy—are largely meh. It was the bland leading the bland. Meanwhile, Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of the classic song “Memory” was impressive, but by that point there were only a smattering of people left to appreciate it.
And let’s have a moment of silence for Jason Derulo’s penis, shall we? Derulo told Rolling Stone his character Rum Tum Tugger’s bulge was suspiciously CGI’d out of the final product. Derulo, of course, is newly famous for his gigantic unit and it’s clear he wasn’t anticipating being digitally neutered.
Someday Cats will be revered as a cult classic, but it will take decades. For now, it’s an abomination of sight and sound. (Sir Ian McKellen as a decrepit theater cat slurp-licking milk out of a giant saucer is the stuff nightmares are made of.) The only thing that would have made this movie better? A sweeping case of feline leukemia. The only thing that would have made this movie worse? An appearance by Ashley Judd.
It’s bound to win every Razzie category ever created. Yes, it was that bad. And I ain’t fe-lyin’.