The reviews of Tom Hooper’s CGI-heavy big screen reboot of the Broadway musical Cats are in and they are… super catty. The film based on Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s long-running homage to all things feline — notorious for being both incredibly successful and a Broadway punchline — raised eyebrows in July when the first trailer caused some digital hairballs to come up at the sight of such stars as Taylor Swift, Dame Judy Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba and Jennifer Hudson rendered as smooth-bodied, strangely anthropomorphized kitties.
The Hollywood Reporter referred to the human-cat hybrids as creepy and off-putting, with the stars coming off looking like “hairy naked humans wearing cat ears.” That was kind, however, compared to some of the other early hot takes, which are mostly notable for their clever use of scathing cat puns in their headlines for the film that has a 17% Rotten Tomatoes rating.
So, pull up a bowl of lukewarm milk, sharpen your claws and check out some of the cattiest Cats review headlines below.
Key takeaway: “This adaptation gets straight to the heart of the material, which is basically two hours of stray cats introducing themselves… In an exasperating portent of things to come, the cats describe in great detail all of the things they do without truly getting at how a Jellicle differs from any other breed of cat. This sets the template for the rest of the film, in which various cats sing entire solo songs dedicated to letting the other characters and the audience know who they are, yet never once build or develop an actual character outside of some basic traits.”
Key takeaway: “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 see Cats… Cats defies belief because it exists and yet at every turn, it is very obvious that Cats should not exist.”
Key takeaway: “So little of it works that it’s hard to finger a primary culprit, but what consistently underwhelmed me were the tinny arrangements of songs that were clearly meant to blare so loud as to drown out the voices in your head claiming to know better than to allow you to give yourself over to a full-length musical about anthropomorphized cats.”
Key takeaway: “It is tough to pinpoint when the kitschapalooza called Cats reaches its zenith or its nadir, which are one and the same. The choices are legion: Judi Dench gliding in as Old Deuteronomy, a Yoda-esque fluff ball with a huge ruff who brings to mind the Cowardly Lion en route to a drag ball as Queen Elizabeth I; the tap dancing Skimbleshanks (Steven McRae), dressed, unlike most of the furries — in red pants and suspenders, no less — leading a Pied Piper parade; or Taylor Swift, as Bombalurina, executing a joyless burlesque shimmy after descending on the scene astride a crescent moon that ejaculates iridescent catnip… 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.”
Key takeaway: “Tom Hooper’s jarring fever dream of a spectacle is like something that escaped from Dr. Moreau’s creature laboratory instead of a poet’s and a composer’s feline (uni)verse, an un-catty valley hybrid of physical and digital that unsettles and crashes way more often than it enchants.”
Key takeaway: “If you saw the first trailer for Cats, you’ve probably been bracing yourself for a cinematic disaster of epic proportions. That preparation will serve you well if you choose to see the finished film, a boondoggle of terrible source material mixed with direction so poor the Academy should repossess Tom Hooper’s Best Director Oscar. Watching Cats makes you feel like you’re slowly going insane. Some may think would be a fun and joyous experience, and perhaps with enough alcohol and a raucous crowd, that would be the case. But if you try to view Cats straight (as I did) it’s a mind-warping experience where nothing works.”
Yes, Cats is as Bad as it Looks (AV Club)
Key takeaway: “It is hard to think of another Hollywood film that has arrived under such an ignominious cloud of anti-hype… The special effects that were supposed to be the movie’s big attraction looked silly at best and hideous at worst [in the trailer]. To many potential viewers, there is really only one question that matters about Cats: Do the cats in the movie really look as bad and distracting as they do in the trailer? They do. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours have been sunk into making the cats in Cats look like hypertrichotic mutants from the Uncanny Valley Of Dr. Moreau, with tails and furry faces and hairless human fingers and toes. Their proportions in relation to the sets seem all wrong.”