Every once in a while a movie comes out that sucks.
Cats is no exception.
It’s leaving theatres soon – which is a shame – because it’s a bad movie that goes beyond. Cats nearly brought me to tears, and I still don’t know why. They weren’t of joy, or sadness, or even fear. It was kind of like when you’re cutting onions: the tears come independent of your feelings, set off by something beyond your control. Not to say there weren’t emotions. Because there were many, none of which I can name.
I would love if more people went out to see Cats, because no one ever fucking believes me when I talk about the things you see.
Allow me to entice you.
Everything you’ve heard about it having no plot is false, but might as well be true. I only gleaned as much as I did from Cats because I read a few summaries. In short, the “plot” centers around a feline performance contest, the winner of which is awarded a new life to be lived however they please. This is shown on-screen as an ascension, but is almost definitely some kind of sacrificial ritual to please their unknowable deities. Much of the movie is spent on cats practicing their performances for this contest–which is called the Jellicle Ball, as they are Jellicle Cats…
Whatever that means.
The early songs are typical bad movie fodder: Cat Rebel Wilson commands an army of CGI rat and cockroach people (all animals in this cinematic universe are afflicted with the same ghastly appearance as the cats), then Cat Jason Derulo nearly sucks someone’s toes. They have names, but respectively these names are Jennyanydots and Rum Tum Tugger, neither of which are fit for the human tongue. There’s also a protagonist, I guess, but she’s a blank slate for the audience to see the world through. She spends the first hour being dragged around and hit on by half the cast.
I’d say the fun begins when the story kicks in.
The story, by the way, is that Cat Idris Elba is kidnapping all the other cats so he’ll be the only competitor at the Jellicle Ball. The evil sidekick, Cat Taylor Swift, who will never pull off the vibe, tries her best, but it’s uncomfortable watching her try to be a sultry right-hand woman. The movie hits its crescendo in bizarreness when Cat Taylor Swift mass drugs the Jellicle Ball using magic catnip, causing them to do her bidding. I can’t remember much of this scene: it’s a nauseating blur. The plot also reaches a crescendo sometime after this, but I know you’re not reading this for plot. You’re reading this because you want to know how bad it is. All you need to know is that Cat Idris Elba looks so, so bad. All the cats look naked to a degree, but he’s so much worse. He looks like a Ken Doll.
If somehow none of this is enough to convince you to see Cats, don’t worry, I’ve saved best for last, the crown jewel of cringeworthy cinema: Cat Judi Dench’s song addressing you, the viewer.
You’ll think the movie is over.
You’ll think you’ve made it.
Then, when your guard is let down and you’re moving to stand on legs that have ached to run far away from this place for the past two hours, she looks to you and sings.
This part really has to be experienced in the theatre, in a dark room where there’s no socially acceptable escape and Cat Judi Dench’s CGI visage looms over you. Know that you will feel seen. Not the good kind of “seen”, either. Not the kind of “seen” where there’s someone onscreen who embodies a part of you that’s always felt alienated. No, this is the bad kind. The kind of “seen” where you’re a CGI rat and Cat Judi Dench is looking hungry. When the credits finally rolled, I wiped a tear from my eye that I hadn’t even noticed forming.
So, yeah, see Cats, while you can.
But only once.