Explore the Weird and Fantastical World of “Cats”

Robert Timmler

2019 film “Cats” is the film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical based on a book of poems called “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. The film depicts Victoria, played by Francesca Hayward, an abandoned cat that stumbles upon a group of Jellicle, or scruffy, cats on a special night. On this special night, Jellicle cats must compete to be chosen by Old Deuteronomy, played by Judi Dench, for the chance to ascend to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn into a new Jellicle life.

“Cats” is an oddball of a film. Starting off, the main pitfall of the film is the CGI (Computer Generated Images). The characters being all CGI, lead to moments in the film when the characters in the foreground or the background looked disproportionate or their body movement seemed disjointed. This caused the focus of the film to stray from the story and the songs to how weird and uncanny the characters looked and moved.

The film has a huge cast of characters, which led to some of the characters being either one dimensional, uninteresting or forgettable. The film unnecessarily adds conflict to a story with no conflict, and at the end of the film, it isn’t even fully resolved. The conflict only distracts from the main story, and doesn’t add anything to the story or the characters. 

Positives of the film is that some of the performances are pretty good. Jason Derulo is enchantingly smooth as Rum Tum Tugger. James Corden delivers a humorous performance as Bustopher Jones. Idris Elba brings a charmingly evil presentence to the film as Macavity, and Ian McKellen gives an empathic performance as Gus the Theatre Cat. Most of the song numbers are performed well and are somewhat catchy. The set design boosts the setting and mood of the film from the neon lights of the alleyway to the moonlight stage of The Egyptian. 

“Cats” attempts to adapt a musical that’s about cats coming together to sing about each other. There’s no main conflict in the musical, and at least the musical’s characters have distinct personalities instead of the misshapen abominations that the film calls characters.

“Cats” gets 3/10 stars.