Everything that needs to be said about Tom Hooper’s Cats has already been said, but that’s not going to stop me from adding my own two cents, pointing out some things I haven’t seen other people talk to death. The plot of Cats is… notoriously thin. Cats appear, sing about themselves, get kidnapped by Mr. Idris Elba, and at the end Ms. Jennifer Hudson is chosen to be reincarnated by the leader of the death cult. A tale as old as time, really. The movie adds some new elements, but I’m not all that familiar with the stage musical so I won’t open that can of worms. Now that we have the requisite “summary” out of the way, here are some of my notes.
My favorite part of this already bizarre movie is at the very end, when Dame Judi Dence sing-speaks directly to the audience for longer than you would expect. But it’s not her looking directly into my soul that’s important, but the three cats surrounding her during it, all staring at her in reverence. And it’s just the perfect capstone to this surreal film: Victoria, Mister Mistoffelees, and Whatshisname absolutely hypnotized by Old Deuteronomy reminding the audience that a cat is not a dog.
Next up is Whatshisname, AKA Munkustrap. That’s one hell of a name that barely stands out amid Rumpleteazer and Jennyanydots, but that’s not my problem with him. My problem is that despite being the guide to Victoria–and therefore to the audience–this main character never gets named in the movie outside of the end credits. Not once! He never introduces himself, doesn’t get a song, and no one says his name. But, like, he’s always there. And he’s the second best cat in the entire film, because nothing can compare to the heavenly being that is Skimbleshanks the railway cat, the cat of the railway train.
And now one of my more controversial opinions… Was I supposed to feel anything at all when Grizabella sings Memory? I get that it’s the most well known song from the musical and it’s beloved by fans for decades, but it did nothing for me. Instead, I kept staring at the snot dribbling down towards her weirdly bleached mouth, the awkward still shots of her singing, and the realization that I still had about a half hour left of the movie. I don’t know, maybe it’d resonate more watching it in a raucous group, or maybe fucked up on your hallucinogen of choice, but until then it’s… fine. It’s a solid okay song, I guess.
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