Film review: Cats

Cats is currently showing at Burnley's Reel Cinema
Cats is currently showing at Burnley's Reel Cinema

Me-ouch! Awards season is just round the corner and this adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's record-breaking musical “Cats” is sure to be a nominee.


Unfortunately for Oscar- winning director Tom Hooper (“The king’s speech”) this has to be nailed on for a Golden Raspberry rather than a shiny 24-karat gold plated man.

Don’t let the names on the poster fool you; this is a cat-astrophe.

Sure, with a fur-midable cast full of contemporary pop singers and Broadway performers the singing and dancing is nothing short of spectacular, but much like Wallace Hartley’s band on the Titanic, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler`s efforts can’t save this sunken ship.

It plays like a catnip-induced fever, the dialogue is a cringeworthy collection of moggy-related metaphors and don’t get me started on “digital fur technology”.

It’s basically a Snapchat filter on drugs leaving us with visually repulsive sexualised fursonas. With a human face, human hands, digitally painted fur, ears that move (but strangely not like a cats),and tails that awkwardly protrude from extremely defined human buttocks, the starry ensemble of Ian McKellen, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo and Rebel Wilson look more like naked furry bipeds than anything else.

Special mention to Judi Dench who for some reason is made to look like the cowardly lion from “The Wizard of Oz”.

Critics hammered the musical for its famously thin plot, cobbled together from the poems that make up TS Eliot's “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats”.

This is slightly more cohesive, though no less bizarre, centring around our lead Victoria (Francesca Hayward) and a competition called the “Jellicle Ball,” where the ancient street cat Old Deuteronomy (Dench) selects one cat to ascend to the Heaviside Layer. What? Exactly, it’s basically Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” but everyone competing is horny and wants to die.

There’s a minor conflict between Grizabella (Hudson) and Macavity (Elba) but really the whole thing is just window dressing to set up each song.

That wouldn’t necessarily be a negative as it was, afterall, the sheer indestructible catchiness of the musical numbers that led to “Cats” being one of the longest running Broadway shows of all time.

Unfortunately, Hooper insists on interrupting each ear worm with a cringeworthy gag.

It’s boring and monotonous and just repeats over and over again making exactly the same point until the end credits roll.

We know Bustopher Jones is fat, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer are mischievous and Skimbleshanks works the railyard. How many times do you need to tell us?

“If you loved the musical you’ll love the film” is an adage that rarely follows and that’s the case here.

File this alongside “The Producers “ as a genuine trashterpiece and much like the scene where Wilson is flat on her back with her legs open, I’d rather claw my eyes out than watch it again.