Cats

Critics Consensus

Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.

20%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 289

53%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 6,908
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Movie Info

Universal Pictures and Working Title's Cats is a most-unexpected film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's beloved smash musical "Cats" and the poems from "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," by T.S. Eliot. Oscar (R)-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) brings astonishing new technology to transform his cast members. Acclaimed casting director Lucy Bevan is casting the film adaptation. The epic will be produced by Hooper and Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, as well as fellow Les Misérables producer Debra Hayward-who brought the idea to Working Title. CATS will be produced by Working Title Films in association with Monumental Pictures and The Really Useful Group and executive produced by three-time Oscar (R) winner Steven Spielberg, Lloyd Webber and Angela Morrison. Hooper and Lee Hall (Billy Elliott, War Horse) have adapted the story for the screen. One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, "Cats" received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981-where it played for 21 record-breaking years and almost 9,000 performances. The groundbreaking production based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" was the winner of the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983 the Broadway production became the recipient of s

Cast

James Corden
as Bustopher Jones
Judi Dench
as Old Deuteronomy
Jason Derulo
as Rum Tum Tugger
Idris Elba
as Macavity
Jennifer Hudson
as Grizabella
Ian McKellen
as Gus the Theatre Cat
Taylor Swift
as Bombalurina
Rebel Wilson
as Jennyanydots
Ray Winstone
as Growltiger
Laurie Davidson
as Mr. Mistoffelees
Robert Fairchild
as Munkustrap
Mette Towley
as Cassandra
Steven McRae
as Skimbleshanks
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News & Interviews for Cats

Critic Reviews for Cats

All Critics (289) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (230)

Audience Reviews for Cats

  • 22h ago
    Anyone who says that this is the worst movie of the decade is clearly displaying either an ignorance of the majority of major motion picture releases or is simply engaging in hyperbolic vitriol because CATS is some of the lowest hanging fruit in theaters right now. Yes, it's gross to look at. Yes, it's a sonic pummeling. But no, CATS is far from the worst movie of the decade, much less the year. Any bad movie lover will be disappointed to find that it's a gawdy, confusing, and relentlessly obnoxious Broadway music adaptation...so it's your standard, completely normal Broadway musical adaptation. Please forgive my casual disregard for the medium, but I think it's safe to say that all things Broadway are for a fading, niche group of enthusiasts at this point. I'm sure those people will all go see this adaptation without much complaint. I'd like to point out to anyone calling out Tom Hooper's CATS for the admittedly weird CG design of the characters that strolls down to the uncanny valley is hardly a far cry from what I normally see and feel every time I watch a superhero movie. Something is off. It looks unreal. I'm looking at nothing, but my eyes tell me that something is there. From the visual clutter of TRANSFORMERS to the de-aging of characters in a movie as fine as THE IRISHMAN, I have a hard time chastizing one and forgiving the other. It all looks like fake crap to me because I know it's not there. Compare this to hybrid visual composites like KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS or the "Dark Crystal" netflix miniseries where it's obviously practical motion captured crafted materials enhanced by computer graphics. I think most people can ease into the unreality of those more because it isn't trying to sell the authentic reality of it at all. Be actually fantastical, or get outta my face with that ish. With that said, furries will yif for joy with all of the weirdly fetishistic posing and writhing going on here. I never thought I'd see Judy Dench splayed and kicking in any context, much less as a cat person, but I actually found Rebel Wilson and James Corden less repulsive with all of the extra hair. Idris Elba is obviously having a lot of fun doing his best cockney Wesley Snipes impression, and the rest of the cast are committed enough that at the very least the movie isn't terribly boring. I couldn't wait for it to end, but the same could be said of a lot of films I sit through. I think ultimately that the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber speaks for itself, and there is no denying the craft and years of onstage refinement that did most of the heavy lifting before it all culminated in this box office disaster. I just don't think it deserves all of the hate it's gotten. It's not so bad it's good. It's not so bad it's horrible. It's just bad.
    Steve L Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2020
    It's far more enjoyable watching a cat lick it's own anal orifice. None of whom even attempt such self-indulgent grooming here.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2019
    I have two words for you: Cats. But that doesn't make sense, you say? Exactly. Back in college, it seemed like every performing arts major had that Harvey Edwards "Leg Warmers" photo hanging on their wall. You know the one with the well-worn stockings and the tattered, duct-taped ballet slippers in plié? It signified a commitment to T.H.E. T.H.E.A.T.R.E. - a world of over-enunciations, mid-Atlantic accents, treading the boards, finishing lines to the very end of one's finger tips, and playing to the back row! I'm convinced Cats was made for them, not only to enjoy but to be a part of in order to hone their "craft". I mean this in a loving, celebratory way. Cats may enter the history books as a gasp-inducing, surreal, plot-free nightmare of gargantuan proportions, but this one's for all the theater geeks who lived to strut across the stage and put on a show. It's that Theater 101 Class which decided to very publicly let the rest of the world in to see its students "be a cat" for a couple of hours. Tom Hooper, who turned Les Miserables, a show I genuinely love, into a fish-eyed, overwrought live singing, dutch-angled disaster, expands his repertoire a little bit here, but not enough to convince me he should continue directing musicals. He keeps things moving along but the script he co-wrote with Lee Hall doesn't do him any favors. I found myself entertained by individual moments, but nothing really adds up to a contained whole By now, I think everyone knows that Cats doesn't really have much of a story. A bunch of felines introduce themselves in song until an elder cat selects one of them for the honor of dying, going to kitty Heaven, and being reborn to experience the next one of their nine lives. Think of it as American Idol for the meow crowd, replete with its own Simon Cowell-esque villain. Idris Elba plays Macavity, who tries to destroy the competition by turning them into some type of mist and rebirthing them on a barge in the Thames! Yeah, that tracks. It all plays out like some long lost variety special from the 1970s. Google Shields And Yarnell if you have to, and then imagine them hissing and prancing around a soundstage as the words "Cats" and "Jellicles" bore their way into your brain. Francesca Hayward plays Victoria, an abandoned cat who acts as our entree into the Picadilly Circus world of our cast. Rebel Wilson pops in to pulverize a character named Jennyanydots, followed by James Corden doing the same with Bustopher Jones. Some lesser known actors show the big celebs how to do it right such as Laurie Davidson as the magician Mr. Mistoffelees and Robbie Fairchild as Munkustrap, who looks like a young Stephen Colbert in a cat suit. Jennifer Hudson oozes snot and phlegm as the tragic Grizabella, who oversings "Memory" but still managed to make me cry. Jason Derulo appears long enough to put down some outdated funk into our ears. Dame Judith Dench and Sir Ian McKellen appear as elder statescats and commit fully to their Glenda The Good Witch and Mr. Cellophane roles respectively. Taylor Swift appears long enough to convince us that her fake English accent on her hit "Blank Space" was no fluke. Still, I enjoyed her shimmying and sprinkling glitter down on the crowd from atop a descending moon…and that, my friends, is not a sentence I expected to write when I woke up this morning. Many have quibbled about being able to see Old Deuteronomy's (Dame Dench) wedding ring, but who cares? Unfinished CGI? Crew members in the background? Inconsistent proportions? Furry bodies with human hands and feet? Cats wearing furs made from other cats? Bring it! You're all literally crying over spilled milk. When nothing makes sense, why should anything? In a script where nothing builds from one moment to the next, the emotional ricochet of it all doesn't do character development or a plot any favors, but it does produce some standout moments. I enjoyed the Artful Dodger "Consider Yourself" type number by Skimbleshanks, the cat who lives on a train, especially when the cast dances on the tracks across London in an extra wide shot. Andrew Lloyd Webber, who created the stage musical and clearly has never met a melody he didn't repeat over and over, cribs from his Jesus Christ Superstar "Hosanna" song with Mr. Mistoffelees' big number, but damned if I wasn't singing along to it anyhow. Not everything works, of course. Most of it doesn't. The creepy CGI will haunt my dreams, replacing images of Linda Blair vomiting pea soup with uncanny valley humanoids shaking their furry asses in my face. I found what choreography I could see as being uninspired, although it's hard to tell when it gets chopped to bits. The color palette can best be described as Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland threw up on Tim Burton's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and out of the ooze came a mutant version of Moulin Rouge and Chicago. I even take issue with Old Deuteronomy's choice at the end. There's one cat who literally saves her life, yet somehow she doesn't consider that worthy enough. Besides, who really wants to win a contest where the prize is dying, hanging onto a Phantom Of The Opera chandelier attached to a hot air balloon and ascending to some place called the Heavyside Layer? No thanks, I'll take my chances in hell, Dame Dench! In conclusion, everyone should see Cats. I shouldn't be the only one. When as the last time you left a movie theater with your jaw on the floor? When was the last time you have no idea what you saw, but consider the three vodka tonics and discussion you had with friends afterwards to be a life highlight? When was the last time you saw a musical with only one truly memorable song? Ok, I know the answer to these questions is The Greatest Showman, but now you have Cats! Long live terrible movie musicals! Long live rubbernecking at accidents! Long live the theater nerds who just wanna show off their can-do spirit and give it the old college try! Long live Harvey Edwards! Long live Cats! Now and forever and probably just for the next two weeks at a theater near you.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2019
    Cats, beyond all reason, is a musical sensation. Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on the poems of T.S. Eliot. The original production played on Broadway for eighteen years from 1982 to 2000 and I don't know a single person that likes it. It was only a matter of time before these jellicle cats were headed for the big screen in a big-budget folly. The first look the public got of a Cats movie musical trailer was met with revulsion and horror. I was anticipating the worst and yet I still wasn't fully prepared for the jellicle disaster strutting around with undue confidence. Director Tom Hooper (Les Miserables, The Danish Girl) made the colossal misfire to film his action in motion capture bodysuits and provide CGI hair and cat features to them later. This choice dooms whatever meager chance a big screen Cats might have had. There's a reason the Internet erupted in collective horror when the first trailer was released, and Hooper and his producers tried assuring the public that those were early renditions of the technology and it would be improved upon its holiday release. Dear reader, I am here to tell you that the horror of that first trailer is alive and well in every unnatural moment of this nightmare. The uncanny valley has been a busy transit stop this year with the unsettling live-action (?) Lion King and now Cats serves as a dire warning about the perils of modern technology. Just because you can try and give human beings CGI fur and ears and tails doesn't mean you should. The look is never fully transporting and often it appears like human features have been slapped onto a furry background composite, like a snowman's facial features while it might be melting. Then there's the additional levels of scary anthropomorphism, with mice and marching cockroaches. Why not just use prosthetics and makeup like every stage production? I think the Cats producers wanted to do something to distinguish it and in doing so they unleashed one of apocalyptic seals. Whatever film version of Cats was destined to be disappointing because the source material is so lackluster. The Broadway musical was so popular for so long, I assume, primarily from its creative use of costumes, makeup, and staging to bring to life a fanciful world of felines. The CGI decision takes away whatever admirable craftsmanship and charm the stage show might have conveyed and replaced with nightmare fuel for the eyes. Absent the initial appeal, we're left with a truly underwhelming story populated with underwritten characters that only really exist when they're singing and otherwise just operate in background space. It's a show that feels powerfully redundant with a plot structure that amounts to cats being tapped to deliver an explanatory song about themselves and then to move onto the next. It's very much, "I'm a cat. Here's my cat song," followed by, "I'm a different cat. Here's my different cat song." Without further plot advancement, it feels like the silliest job interview with the worst candidates seeking the position of Cat Who Gets the Honor of Being Reborn in the Sky. By the end of the movie, I was convinced that I was watching an even scarier version of Midsommar and that this cat gang was really a religious cult that was selecting a ritual sacrifice to their blood-thirsty Egyptian Gods. It's a storytelling experience that never connects because this is designed entirely for children. Much of the show feels like a children's television series that was hijacked by a sexual deviant. The film is replete with simplistic moral messages that you would find in children's television, things like "Believe in yourself," and, "Invite others into your play," and, "Wait your turn," and, "Treat others with respect," and other easily digestible platitudes. This isn't a complicated show and children would not be tasked with remembering the many characters and their stupid names because most of them are meaningless to the larger story. There is nothing complex about this story, which was compensated by the production values of the original stage show. The large stages the actors frolic around are fun to watch because they're built to scale, meaning the tables are gigantic to present the world from a cat's perspective. However, the proportions vary wildly and at whim. The cats will seem much larger than their world and much smaller; dining cutlery will appear far larger than a cat's whole body, or they'll strut on a railway and look like they're three inches tall. Couple that with inconsistent world building and ill-defined magic powers (teleportation works except when it doesn't) and it becomes very hard to hold onto anything as a baseline. The attempts at whimsy through the exaggerated scale become another point of confusion and unease as this world continually feels like a simulation that doesn't quite add up. I really want to examine just how ridiculous so many of these character names are. Apparently, a cat chooses their name (sorry, pet owners, but you've been giving them slave names?) and they're selecting some pretty insane identities. Without further ado, we have Bombalurina, Bustopher Jones, Grizabela, Macavity, Jennyanydots, Rum Tum Tugger, Rumpleteazer, Mungojerrie, Mr. Mistoffelees, Munustrap, Griddlebone, Tantomile, Jellylorum, Growltiger, and without a doubt, my favorite, Skimbleshanks. You could play a game guessing whether the names were cat names, pirate names, or something an elderly human said during a stroke. The songs are also another source of disappointment. There's the lone exception of "Memory" and Jennifer Hudson kills it with the kind of emotion the rest of the movie was missing, but everything else feels like it's droning on and absent a strong sense of melody. The synth score also feels very dated and hard on the ears. The only saving grace for a movie that puts this concerted emphasis on the performances would be the song and dance numbers, and the dance choreography is bland and undercut by the editing, and the songs are forgettable. The Skimbleshanks number is a slight variation because of the force of personality from the character, being introduced like a fancy feline member of the Village People, suspenders and literal handlebar mustache and all. He also has an impressive tap number that leads into the exciting world of… sleeping cars on a train. It's hard for me to impart any emotional impact from the songs because they're so plainly expository, explaining a different cat's life from being mischievous to being fat and lazy. These are not interesting characters in the slightest (sorry, Skimbleshanks) and their songs are like boring third grade essays about their home lives. Nobody walks away completely clean from this movie but the actors with singing experience come closest. James Corden (Into the Woods) is a real highlight from his comic asides that feel like he's puncturing the bizarre self-serious nature of this silly movie. Jason Derulo has a slick amount of charm to be a commitment-challenged alley cat. Hudson (All Rise) is a strong singer and made me think of her character from Dreamgirls being a cat and singing her big number. The lead heroine, Francesca Hayward, has a genuine grace to her presence and a nice face to stand out amid a world of scary human-looking cat deformities. I wish she had more moments to showcase her balletic talents. The older actors fare the worst, unfortunately. Judi Dench (Murder on the Orient Express) looks pained and sounds it too. Her fourth-wall breaking song that concludes the film, instructing the audience on how to address and treat their kitties, is inherently awkward. Elba (Hobbes & Shaw) provides a palpable sense of menace to his devil figure, until he appears without clothes and I audible gasped and groaned. In one instant, any sense of menace vanished as I watched a naked black cat version of Idris Elba dance a jolly jig. I know these actors signed up for this but that didn't stop me from feeling a resigned sense of embarrassment for them. And now is the time to talk about the unspoken audience for a live-action Cats, and that's the contingent of furries or soon-to-be discovered furries. I was wondering before if the filmmakers would be cognizant of the unorthodox appeal of their film production to a certain select group of audience members, and I am here to say they are completely aware and play into this. There's a musical number where Taylor Swift sprays catnip (a.k.a. magic horny dust) that drives the cats crazy and they writhe and purr with wild abandon, striking evocative poses with legs raised. There may not be any visible genitals but that doesn't stop Rebel Wilson's character from a joke about neutering. In news reports, Derula has been upset by his phantom phallus in the movie, which is slightly hilarious considering he signed up for this, but it's also indicative of the weirdly sexual vibes the movie is playing around with but at an infantile level of wonder. There is going to be a generation of moviegoers who watch Cats and discover that they are turned on by sexy human versions of animals slinking around, lifting their legs, and rubbing their fuzzy little butts. I was waiting for Cats to end long before it did because so much felt so pointless. The false whimsy was covering ineffective and repetitive storytelling, malnourished and unimportant characters, confusing world building and powers, middling songs (with one sterling exception), and direction that seems to make the whole enterprise feel like a children's cartoon. It's too simple to be intellectually stimulating, too weird and confounding to be whimsical, too sporadic and repetitive to be emotionally involving, and vacillating between complete seriousness and wanton silliness. I'm not even a hater of Hooper when it comes to his idiosyncratic direction of big Broadway musicals. I enjoyed his rendition of Les Miserables and thought several of the artistic choices made the movie better, especially the live singing. With Cats, I don't think there was a possibility of this ever being a good movie as long as it was a faithful adaptation of a not great stage show. However, there were decisions that made this movie much much worse, namely the scary marriage of technology and flesh. If somehow you were a fan of Cats, or somehow consider yourself one as an adult, or a furry, you might find some degree of enchantment. For everyone else, Cats is a cat-astrophe. Sorry. Nate's Grade: D
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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