The Only Positive Review of Cats (2019)

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In 1939, famous poet T.S. Eliot published a book of whimsical poems called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The book, from the perspective of the cats, was not well received. . A few decades later, Andrew Lloyd Webber found the book and was inspired to create Cats..

Finding investors for the broadway musical proved a difficult task. The plot seemed far-fetched and, at points, nonexistent, but it eventually found a home at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway. It quickly gained a cult following and became the fourth longest running show on Broadway.

The popularity of Cat’s had gone down considerably when a film version was announced for 2019. With its star-studded cast and award winning director, Tom Hooper, people were intrigued. But the release of the trailer and its CGI human/cat hybrids had many people calling it nightmare fuel. It got overwhelmingly negative reviews, and Universal Studios is estimated to lose over $60 million.

Timpview students didn’t seem to be huge fans of the movie. Senior Jacob Whitney says, “It was a car crash, visually disturbing, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of it”. Freshman Hugh Clark agreed, saying, “It was pretty much the worst. Everything about it made you feel uncomfortable. Nobody understood anything that was going on and we couldn’t decipher what the cats were singing about.” These harsh reviews are fair as it is a unique film, but let’s look at what makes it fabulous.

Because of the nature of the musical, many people complain that it’s boring and it doesn’t have a plot at all. But in the case of Cats, you have to remember that it is character-focused and not plot-centered. Each of the cats has something interesting to say if you listen. It may not be full of twists and sudden reveals, but every moment of it is entertaining.

The plot of Cats is all about knowing who you are. In the beginning, Victoria, the main character, is introduced to a new group of cats, the Jellicle cats. Victoria watches as they prepare to go to the Jellicle ball by dancing Jellicle Dances and singing Jellicle songs, hoping to prove themselves worthy to become the Jellicle choice. When a cat is chosen to be the Jellicle choice, they ascend to the Heaviside Layer and get to start life anew. The Jellicle choice is the cat that shows it can no longer be their true self, so they must be reborn.

Aside from the plot, some of the technical elements of Cats were subpar. One of the main complaints about the movie was that the CGI was horrible. In earlier releases of the film there were frequent moments when the CGI wasn’t finished. At one point, Judy Dench’s human hand, completely unedited and sporting a wedding ring. Even in the “fixed” release, costume pieces disappeared into the CGI and actors’ feet clearly did not touch the CGI floor. But despite these unsettling mistakes, the CGI had its moment. The effect for the cats’ fur was extremely realistic, moving like that of a real animal. The sets, mostly CGI, were well designed and added dimension to the film.

Cats is not a normal film, nor is it an average musical. The best description of it is a vaudeville ballet. You can’t view it like you would most movies, you have to accept it for what it is and just enjoy the confusion. Once you do that, you can appreciate the incredible dancing, fun songs, and heartwarming story. Cats may not be for everyone, but you’ll never be bored while watching it, which is where its true beauty lies.