“Cats”: A Movie So A-Paw-ling it Belongs in the Litter Box

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Claire Emison

The movie “Cats” is the film adaptation of the 1980 Broadway musical.

Nora Iammarino, Contributing Writer

Rating: 1/5 Falcons

Despite its ridiculous appearance, Cats has been a staple on Broadway ever since 1980. After 38 years on stage, director Tom Hooper produced an on-screen adaptation in 2019. The film’s cast is packed with A-list stars, but the glamorous cast is the movie’s only redeeming quality. Although the play was a success during its tenure on stage, the film is more disturbing than delightful. 

The movie follows a stray cat named Victoria. Early in the film, she is taken in and entranced by a group of alley cats called Jellicles. The cats tell her about the “Jellicle Ball,” an event where cats compete to go to the Heaviside Layer, a place where the cats can get a new life. The movie features stars like Jennifer Hudson, who plays an outsider cat called Grizabella. She is an example of a cat who wants to get to the Heaviside Layer. Sir Ian McKellen is featured as Gus the Theater Cat, another cat trying to get to the Heaviside Layer. 

This adaptation had no positive qualities except for the accidental comedic value.”

In the film, the cats’ movements are supposedly inspired by real cats’ slinky, mysterious strides. However, instead of producing this effect, the cats’ mannerisms come across as overly sexual. This aspect of the film engendered a feeling of discomfort among the audience, including me. Furthermore, the cats show affection by rubbing their faces on each other’s necks. While we consider this normal cat behavior, there is something extremely unsettling about seeing Ian McKlennen’s character rub his fur-covered face on another cat and meow with pleasure. Another problematic element of this film is that there is no consistency when it comes to its realism. While you watch the movie, it is obvious that most elements prove to be extremely unrealistic. For example, the size of the cats vary in relation to everything in the set; sometimes they are the size of humans, while at other times they are the size of your thumb. Despite the lack of continuity and realism there though, the creators managed to capture a continuous hyper-realistic snot booger all the way down Grizabella’s face. Every time the camera cut back to her, the booger had gotten longer. 

The part of Cats that disturbed me the most was when the Jellicle leader introduces  Victoria to Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson) who owns a colony of cockroaches and mice. The mice and cockroaches have human faces, making them all the more disgusting. And just when you think the film couldn’t get any more bizarre, Jennyanydots unzips what should be her only layer of cat fur. Underneath is a bedazzled layer of fur that bogglesthe mind of the audience. She then proceeds to eat the cockroaches, who let out small screams from their human lips, and encourages other cats to join her in ripping the insect’s heads off and throwing their decapitated carcasses to the side. This scene was only one of many deeply unsettling moments in this deranged and in no way family-friendly movie.Overall, this adaptation had no positive qualities except for the accidental comedic value. Over the course of the movie, I was continually in awe of the ridiculousness of the film. The only constant in this film is the many uncomfortable scenes that make audiences squirm.   

This piece also appears in our January 2020 print edition.