Movie Review: 'Cats'

Best thing about “Cats” is watching the humans who look and act like feline creatures.
Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Victoria (Francesca Hayward) befriends Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) in "Cats."

"Cats" is based on the popular Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and is adapted from T.S. Eliot’s poetry book, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.”  Remember the old adage, “cats have nine lives?” Well, this movie is about various cats singing, dancing and reciting poetry for an audition that will determine which cat will be chosen to go to heaven and be reborn. The best thing about “Cats” is watching the actors who are made to look like feline creatures, although the story leaves something to be desired. 

The Story 

The movie starts with a large canvas bag being dumped in a back alley. Inside the bag is a housecat named Victoria (played by Francesca Hayward.) Other cats come out to see what is happening. The story continues with Victoria getting to know the cats in her community, with their different personalities.

Victoria meets an evil black cat named Macavity (Idris Elba) who lures her with his singing and sly movements. The other cats warn Victoria that Macavity is a deceiver, and only looking out for himself. Macavity desperately wants to be picked as the cat who receives a new life. He tries to sabotage the other cats in the competition. 

Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) is a cat who used to be sleek and beautiful, before she was lured to the dark side by Macavity. She eventually became a street cat, rejected by others and walking the streets alone in torn clothes. With tears in her eyes, Grizabella is full of remorse and regret. Victoria pities her, although the other cats warn that what happened to Grizabella is her own fault.

What's all of this is leading up to? Well, the cats are auditioning for the “Jellicle Ball,” where a wise, old cat named Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) selects one cat to be reborn into a new body. It’s eerie and strange, considering that every one of the cats wants to die (in order to be reborn.) 

Other cat competitors include Bustopher Jones (James Corden,) “heart throb” Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo,)  “Gumbie” cat Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson,) theater cat Gus (Ian McKellen),  Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild,)  and Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) 

 What Parents Should Know 

"Cat's" is rated PG and is considered a family movie. It’s best suited for ages ten and up. To it’s credit, the movie has no foul language, no violence, no sex scenes or nudity, and no smoking or drugs (although one cat uses catnip to get high, and encourages others to join in.) 

Children may be frightened by the villain of the movie, a black cat with glowing red eyes named Macavity. In the story, Macavity represents the devil. He kidnaps other cats, assuming that will help him win the contest.  Sensitive children may be frightened by this aspect of the film, and it could give them nightmares. 

There are also two cats who are thieves, and they attempt to lure Victoria into a life of crime. Plus, there’s Grizabella the street cat, who spends most of the film crying and singing “Memories” with a runny nose. Why is she so upset? The movie doesn’t really say, but common sense suggests that she prostituted herself in order to survive. Yes, I thought it was disturbing, and out-of-place for a family movie. Plus, I was tired of her constantly crying and moping about. 

Final Take 

The best thing about “Cats” is the actors being made up to look like feline creatures. The costumes and makeup are outstanding. It’s obvious that the actors put a lot of time and practice into their cat-like mannerisms and movements. The movie features many big-name actors and singers. For the most part, the movie offers compelling performances. It's just the story that I wasn't so crazy about.