Over the weekend I watched the 2019 release of the musical “Cats”. This is a difficult film to review because at this point it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of “Cats”. It’s a Broadway juggernaut that ran for eighteen years, has made over $3.5 billion globally since its 1981 release and has won three Tony Awards. You can’t argue with that kind of success.
You can however question it and people’s taste and sanity. I thought “Cats” 2019 was very odd. Human cat hybrids roam the streets of London in the middle of the night in a cat cult called the Jellicle Cats. They hope to receive a blessing from their matriarch Old Deuteronomy. She grants cult members a better life off of the streets.
It’s hard to critique this movie because it’s about humanoid felines that sing and dance in the completely empty streets of London, England in the middle of the night without anyone hearing them. So it would be very silly to point out that the cats weren’t to scale with home furnishings and common kitchen appliances. There’s no reason to be disgusted that they had human feet and walked around without shoes in an urban area. It’s futile to be offended by the chorus line of cockroaches in the film that danced across a kitchen table.
All musicals call on the viewer to suspend belief and we just have to remind ourselves to do that while watching “Cats”. This film reminds us that sometimes you just need to throw your hands up and go with the flow.
The bright spots of the film is the performance of Judi Dench who played Old Deuteronomy and Jennifer Hudson who played Grizabella. Judi Dench provided the film with it’s most lucid and quiet moments. Jennifer Hudson played Grizabella and she sings the show stopper “Memories”. It was actually a little touching.
Overall, I can’t recommend “Cats”. I have a hard time believing that many people can enjoy such a movie. But then again it’s been a wild success. I’m going to guess that people that enjoy “Cats” watched it over and over again and made Andrew Lloyd Webber a legend. I’m also thinking the are people that really like cats. If that’s you I recommend you watch “Cats” 2019.