Cats: I Watched It So You Don’t Have To

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Wells Hannah

Hannah Wells, Staff Writer

I don’t think I will be able to perfectly capture, in words, how truly terrible the film Cats is, but I will try my best. Of course, there will be spoilers for the film in the review, so if, for some reason, you want to see the movie, watch it before reading this review.

I’ll kick off this review by talking about the plot – or rather, the lack thereof. Okay, there was a plot. But it was so scattered that it was hard to follow, and by the end of the film, as you watch Jennifer Hudson’s Grizabella float into the Heaviside Layer, you’ll find yourself thinking, “Oh yeah, I forgot that was the entire reason all the Jellicle Cats gathered here in the first place.” 

The film follows, or tries to follow, the same plot as the Broadway production. All of the Jellicle Cats meet once a year for the Jellicle Ball (by the end of the movie, you will never want to hear the word “Jellicle” again). At the Jellicle Ball, the oldest cat and leader of the Jellicle tribe, Old Deuteronomy, chooses a cat to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be born into a new life. The cats sing about their lives to compete for Old Deuteronomy’s choice. It gets really, really repetitive. 

The most infamous aspect of this film is its CGI, or computer-generated imagery. It places its characters in uncanny valley, which is a phenomenon where humanoid objects do not quite resemble humans correctly, and feelings of unease are provoked in the viewers. I was trapped in uncanny valley for an hour and forty-five minutes. It was traumatic. The film would have been much more watchable if the producers had simply placed the actors in costumes, like in the original Broadway production, or if they had completely animated cats that actually looked like cats. The odd, anthropomorphic cat-human hybrids made the whole experience uncomfortable. 

When I left the theater, I found myself in tears. Going into the theater, I felt that perhaps all of the reviews of Cats were exaggerated, but after watching the film, I realized they absolutely are not. If you are looking for a film that is a mix of horror and comedy, I wholeheartedly suggest you watch Cats. If you are a fan of the Broadway production and want to see the movie because you think it looks fun, don’t. Save your money, and to those of you who plan on watching Cats, prepare to invest in therapy.