Cats is not a good film, but you already knew that. What you didn’t know is that at least five good things can be said about it. In between creepy stares, excessive hissing and disturbing cockroach-eating moments, here are 5 acceptable things about the movie.
Don’t get us wrong: Cats is not the first movie we’d think of if we had to recommend a film to watch at the cinema this month (this is what we’d pick, by the way). There are many scenes of Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical that we wish we could unsee, starting from Robbie Fairchild (Munkustrap)’s creepy cat stares and Francesca Hayward (Victoria)’s unlikely poses. But we are nice people. We want to see the good in everything, and we choose to forget about all the creepy cockroach-eating scenes and the number of times the word “ineffable” can be repeated for no reason. We’re not going to talk about the cats’ improbable names, their disquieting hissing sounds and the cringy way in which their ears and tails move, just like we’re not going to mention all the things that don’t really seem to make sense in the film – from the felines’ ability to vanish into thin air to the absence of hair on their faces. We’re not even going to ask those uncomfortable questions regarding the randomly-assigned collars and clothes, or whose fur Judy Dench (Old Deuteronomy) is wearing. If you go to the screening hoping to find unintentionally hilarious moments to laugh at, you’ll encounter plenty of those without our help. What we want to tell you about are the few things in the movie that are actually ok, if not – dare we even say it? – good.
5. REBEL WILSON’S FLAWLESS ENTRANCE
After a confusing and slightly disturbing opening scene that got us a little too acquainted with the infamous “Jellicle Song for Jellicle Cats” – a name we never, ever want to hear again – , we expected the worst. Instead, we were given a real treat: Rebel Wilson appeared, and she managed to make us laugh simply by being herself. The Pitch Perfect actress plays Jennyanydots, a domesticated cat who has been confined to her owner’s kitchen for her whole life, but who dreams of a life in show business. In her first appearence, Wilson infuses such personality into her character that it’s impossible not to laugh at her hilarious habits and clumsy moves. She has our full attention from the very first moment she awkwardly enters the frame, and the result is a refreshing musical number that is (for the most part) genuinely fun to watch.
4. JENNIFER HUDSON SINGING “MEMORY”
Much can be said about our felines’ unnatural physical appearance, but one thing that needs to be given to them is that they sure can sing. Many have commented on Taylor Swift‘s “Beautiful Ghosts”, the only original song featured in the movie, and the “Shake It Off” singer truly deserves to be praised for an impressive vocal performance that matches her compelling stage presence as attention-seeking feline Bombalurina. Yet, it’s Jennifer Hudson who steals the show with her flawless rendition of “Memory”, one that suddenly makes us forget about the film’s imperfections and sweeps us away into the magical world of Grizabella the Glamour Cat.
3. JAMES CORDEN BEING JAMES CORDEN
Forget about Bustopher Jones, the dandy cat James Corden is supposed to be playing in Tom Hooper’s Cats. Because the character our favourite talk-show host is really portraying in this movie is, quite simply, James Corden himself. When he tap dances on London’s cobbled streets, fully clothed (thank God!), and strolls through his improbable surroundings in a surprisingly natural way, we are immediately reminded of his crosswalk-crossing impromptu musical sessions in Los Angeles and New York. He addresses his fellow characters precisely in the same way he’d make fun of himself on any one of his sketches, and we simply can’t help but laugh. Corden’s strong suit has always been his spontaneity, and it’s precisely by being himself that he manages to conquer our hearts in Cats. So who cares if he doesn’t look, move or speak like any of the other felines? James Corden earns our sympathies with the most natural performance in the film, and we love him all the more for that.
2. THE FILM’S BEAUTIFUL MESSAGE
There’s no denying the fact that there is, indeed, a lot of nonsense in this movie. Yet, right at the very end, its ultimate message is quite a positive one, even if conveyed with the aid of self-playing trumpets and flying roses. It’s a message of unity and acceptance that only resonates when we finally decide to embrace its madness.
1. IAN MCKELLEN
Any film significantly improves simply by having Ian McKellen in it, and that is a fact. Of course, it goes without saying that Cats is no exception to the rule. In a movie in which even the exceptionally talented Judy Dench has been reduced to uttering predictable cat puns and making riddiculous poses, the Lord of the Rings actor is a much-needed breath of fresh air. McKellen approaches his Cats character with the same seriousness and meticulousness he’d put in any other role, and the result is one classy cat who knows how to get our attention. In fact, not only is Gus the Theatre Cat remarkably believable even in the hybrid human/feline shape the movie has gotten us used to, but he significantly improves the overall quality of the entire film. When watching the carismatic elderly feline speak and sing on the stage, you’ll be amazed by McKellen’s flawless body language and moved by his incredibly expressive stares. You’ll be captivated by his words, fascinated by his charm and mesmerized by yet another exceptional performance by one of the greatest actors of our generation.
Cats is now playing in cinemas worldwide.