Reviewed by: Karen C. Flores
Coming of age
The fantasy idea that cats can have multiple lives
The idea of a cat heaven (“the Heaviside Layer”) where cats are reborn into a new life
The Modernism poetry of T.S. Eliot
ANIMALS of the Bible
Idris Elba … Macavity
Taylor Swift … Bombalurina
Ian McKellen … Gus The Theatre Cat
Francesca Hayward … Victoria
Rebel Wilson … Jennyanydots
Judi Dench … Old Deuteronomy
Mette Towley … Cassandra
James Corden … Bustopher Jones
Ray Winstone … Growltiger
Jennifer Hudson … Grizabella
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|Director:||Tom Hooper—“Les Misérables,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Danish Girl”|
Working Title Films [Great Britain]
Perfect World Pictures
Monumental Pictures [Great Britain]
The Really Useful Group [Great Britain]
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When I was a teenager, I saw “Cats” on Broadway. It was a wonderful performance where the actors came off the stage and touched the audience. I must admit I was intrigued as to how they were going to make a movie out of it.
The story is about a new cat who is thrown into an alley. The tribe of Jellicle cats brings her to the Jellicle Ball. The purpose of the Ball is for the old and wise cat Deuteronomy to pick a cat to go to Heaviside Layer. If you get chosen, you go and you are given a new body. It sounds like they are going to Heaven. Each cat sings about themselves and why they should be picked to go to Heaviside. This is the entire plot which all takes place in one night on the streets of London.
In the simplest form, the movie “Cats” is the onscreen adaptation of the Broadway musical. The stage show had no plot to it, and the movie version also offers the same. It is the exact same songs. The primary difference from the stage version is a new song (that Victoria cat sings) and the sex of Old Deuteronomy. Old Deuteronomy used to be played by a male actor. Judi Dench (a woman) plays the film role. For me, this did not take away from the story (or lack of one).
The costumes are combined with CGI to make the cats. They look like people in cat suits. The CGI makes their ears move and their tails stick up or down. On Broadway, the costumes gave life to the show. The actors coming into the audience was different and unique for the stage, but you cannot get that look and feel on the big screen.
I see “Cats” the movie as similar to a human “statue” one might see in the New York City subway. It is beautiful art to see them painted in silver and standing perfectly still looking like a statue until it moves. It draws a huge audience, but it would be very boring to look at that on a screen.
Overall, the movie is about cats introducing themselves, singing and dancing at a ball—with no true storyline and almost no talking. Even though it is an all-star cast, the new comer Francesca Hayward who plays Victoria is the most memorable. She performs a ballet piece with the elegance of a swan and the charm of a cat. She sings the new song Beautiful Ghost which was written by Taylor Swift and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Francesca is a part of the London Royal Ballet. The whole story is basically seen through her eyes.
The movie’s dancing is poetry in motion. The irony of this statement is “Cats” is based upon a children’s book called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by poet T.S. Elliot. A large part of his poems are used in the story. For me, it is just hard to see why they decided to make a motion picture about nothing from a stage show that was about nothing.
There are one or two suggestive situations where one cat looks as if she is making sexual gestures, but one could imagine a cat doing moves that way also. Certain scenes might be considered sexual or sensual, but a person could miss it. The costumes are very form-fitting, and it is apparent that some of the females have breasts, but there is nothing explicitly revealing. There is no nudity and no vulgarity of concern.
Taylor Swift’s character Bombularina sits on top of a moon and sprinkles catnip on the other cats. Catnip has been known to get cats “high” like marijuana. So, this is a drug implication scene.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.