In Review

Cats movie savaged by critics: best of the reviews

Reviewers baffled by film that appears to be ‘permanently on the brink of a sex party’

Film critics have been getting their claws out to take a swipe at the new film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Cats.

The starry cast of the full-length feature includes Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen and  Royal Ballet dancer Francesca Hayward.

But the A-list line-up hasn’t been enough to win over most viewers. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, just 20% of film critics are giving the new release the thumbs-up.

“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,” says the site.

Here are some of the most memorable reviews:

The Cats movie is a boring disaster filled with joyless pussiesKevin Fallon in the Daily Beast

“People I talked to after the premiere were split, either surprised that Cats is basically a musical for children or disturbed by the latent horniness that underscored the movie. Both are true. Only the pure innocence of youth can truly appreciate the lunacy of this story, yet adults will likely spend the entirety of the movie wondering why they can’t stop thinking about f**king those cats…How is it that nearly every character makes a reference to their private parts, yet there were no private parts to speak of? Will I make it to this end of this paragraph with my sanity intact?”

Cats review: I have seen sights no human should seeAlex Cranz in Gizmodo

“I have been processing this movie for the last 24 hours trying to understand anything as terrifying and visceral a trainwreck as Cats…You have to witness Cats because you cannot comprehend it otherwise. And you still might not comprehend it even after you spend an hour and 50 minutes with these characters. But you will witness things no eyes should see and things nobody should be able to do, and you will be in awe. And that’s more than enough.”

An orgy of throbbing tails: is Cats the kinkiest film to earn a U certificate? Catherine Shoard in The Guardian

“Key among the issues raised [after the first screenings] was the film’s apparently seething sexuality. One critic described proceedings as permanently on the brink of a sex party. Other reviewers were struck by Cats’s visual and tonal similarity to The Human Centipede, a horror film in which kidnap victims are stitched together mouth to anus…although female breasts are in hairy evidence, nobody has any genitals, but rather smoothed, doll-like hollows where such organs might lie. This is particularly evident because the ‘cats’ are mostly naked throughout; the muscled bodies of the actors bare save for a thick pelt of digital fur. One scene in which a nude Idris Elba thrusts his ripped torso and bottom at a quivering Judi Dench struck many as remarkably frank, despite Elba’s absent penis.”

The effanineffable, deep and inscrutable, singular CatsAlissa Wilkinson in Vox

Now I’ve seen it, and my own brain feels turned to glitter, much like the sequined blue cat ears on a headband I was handed at the press screening. It is ludicrous and kind of divine, furry and flabbergasting, absurd and, in some moments, weirdly touching... How - how - was a show this bizarre and plotless, with songs this mediocre, one of the most successful Broadway shows of all times, on both sides of the pond? What was happening in the 1980s? It’s literally incredible. I hope I never see it again.”

A tragical mess of MistoffeleesRichard Lawson in Vanity Fair

“After seeing [director Tom] Hooper’s film, I’m certainly left with more questions than answers. It’s an existential quandary, this 110-minute journey into a computer graphic phantasmagoria, revolting and briefly alluring, a true grotesque that sings, in fits and starts, a faint siren song. It’s by no means a good movie, and I left the premiere ready to toss an easy critical bomb at it and be done with rotten old 2019. But the more I sat with Cats, or with the, uh, memory of Cats, the more I realised how much I don’t want to outright hate it. It’s an ugly stray who smells bad and should not be invited into your home, certainly. And yet it is its own kind of living creature, worthy of at least some basic compassion.”

They dance, they sing, they lick their digital furManohla Dargis in The New York Times

“How to explain the seemingly unexplainable, beginning with a narrative and language that borders on the gnomic? A doctoral thesis could be written on how this misfire sputtered into existence, though there’s nothing new about the movies’ energetic embrace of bad taste. One problem is that Cats was directed by Tom Hooper, a well-behaved journeyman (The King’s Speech), who is nowhere near vulgar enough for the challenge he was hired for, which is to translate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s money-printing musical to the big screen.

Cats lands on its feet with terrific choreography, Judi Dench, James Corden and Taylor SwiftNigel Andrews in The Financial Times

“I’m almost dumbstruck. What a truly weird film director Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) has made from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. It’s quite worryingly erotic. There are so many thinly costumed but widescreen glutei maximi wagging in our faces, with raised or writhing tails to add extra study options for Herr Doktor Freud, that I kept feeling I should look away.”

 

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