John Mathews Saw CATS (2019)


Why on God’s green earth would you see Cats in the theater, John? That’s a question that I’m even asking myself. Based on the popular stage musical of the same name, Cats is about a tribe of, you guessed it, cats called the “Jellicles” (a word you’ll hear in the film a triple digit number of times), who must decide each year which one of them will ascend to the “Heaviside Layer” (basically heaven) and return purified. Did I mention the felines are humans crawling around in furry suits? Because yeah, this isn’t a cartoon. And for the sake of not having nightmares tonight, I wish it was one.

Now, unless you’ve been living cat-napping under a rock for the past 3 weeks, you’ll know this film has been getting absolutely lambasted by critics. And after having spent 110 minutes of pure horror for the eyeballs and listening to monotonous musical number after monotonous musical number, I can say that this is probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen in the theater. I never in a million years would’ve paid money to see it (or to even rent it for $2 from Redbox), but thanks to my local theater chain’s subscription service, I got to see it for free. When I had my barcode scanned, I joked to the guy at the box office, “It’s a free movie, don’t judge me”, and he laughed. Even though my wallet didn’t lose any weight, I wanted a couple valuable hours of my life refunded. 


You see, Cats was a very easy movie to hate-watch. The problem is, while some movies are salvageable in a “so-bad-that-it’s-good” sense (i.e. The Fanatic), Cats is just depressing. You have talented actors like Idris Elba, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen, as well as talented singers like Jennifer Hudson (who’ll undoubtedly redeem herself later this year with Respect), Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift pretending to be cats. They move around like cats, hiss like cats, and make cat puns (i.e. “Cat got your tongue?”, “Oh no, look what the cat dragged in!”). I could see a situation where if you were intoxicated, this would seem like the greatest motion picture ever created, but being sober as I was, this was just painful. Within the opening scene, I wanted to leave. This is a movie where I honestly don’t know if I could look at those involved the same way again. I feel embarrassed for everyone that agreed to be a part of this cat-astrophe. 

That brings us to director Tom Hooper. Yeah, the guy who directed the Best Picture-winning The King’s Speech and the fabulous Les Miserables adaptation. I believe he’s a talented director (despite his prior effort The Danish Girl being hot garbage), but this one wasn’t it. This movie will always be on his filmography and that’ll be impossible to shake. I guess you could say the set design and choreography are good enough, but how am I supposed to appreciate those aspects when you have a musical number featuring tiny cockroach people? Then there’s Rebel Wilson, who, for the umpteenth time, is playing herself. Her shtick hasn’t been funny since Pitch Perfect. Perhaps the one time I wasn’t in complete pain was when Idris Elba’s Macavity, the film’s villain (in the barest of plots you’ll find), was on screen. That only being because he was the one character who didn’t break into song whenever the movie called upon them to make an appearance. And he actually wore clothes. But towards the end of the film, Macavity has a number where he’s stripped of all clothing, so there went that. I’m gonna wrap up this review now, as I feel the urge to go to church after spending a couple hours in hell. 

John Mathews
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Cinephile, gamer, and sports fan. Fortnite is life. You may know me from Letterboxd.

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