“A cat is not a dog.”
I hate musicals, just to be clear.
My biggest qualm with the medium is the execution of many of the products. While I by no means consider myself even an amateur explorer in the factory of musical escapades (far from it), the few I’ve subjected myself to have generally been taxing experiences. Even Les Miserables, my personal favorite, has subsections which rattle the frontal lobe. Grease is still mostly watchable but my list of positive things to say regarding the niche of theater ends there.
Musicals often mistake their purpose. Theater’s purpose, as is all art’s, is to emote, often through story-telling and character expression. Let me be clear: art can express itself in any way it wishes. I’m not here to attack the virtues of creative expression. I applaud all sincere and genuine efforts by artists and how someone decides to tell a story is not what should be criticized, only the level of proficiency in which they use such an avenue.
I honestly find musicals lacking because they often fail to do this. Many run absent a true star character and a multitude seem to bypass the concept of a plot altogether.
Or maybe I’m just not jellicle enough.
Cats, you see, considers itself quite jellicle and if you don’t like it, well, maybe you’re just not embracing the jellicle nature of a jellicle film featuring jellicle cats of all jellicle shapes and jellicle sizes.
After a box office bomb of an opening weekend, reeling in a paltry $6.5 million, Universal had to re-release the jellicle gem, sending out a further edited copy after being unanimously bashed for poor visual effects. Tom Hooper was certainly a capable director, furnishing films such as Academy Award winners The King’s Speech, the previously mentioned Les Miserables and The Danish Girl. Unsure where his attention to detail disappeared to because Cats is rife with jellicle discord and a lack of focus.
Also want to give Universal some serious jellicle kudos for releasing Cats during the same week as Rise of Skywalker. Bold strategy, Cotton.
So after the film was nuked by virtually every critic in the jellicle kingdom, I traversed to a local jellicle theater to see this jellicle jewel.
It is, as advertised, painful. As I bemoaned and groaned through the jellicle picture, a loyal defender of the jellicle production who had the fortune of joining me and my compatriots to that particular showing stood up and declared, “If we were going to be a bunch of assholes, why don’t we just leave?” to which I responded, “Wow, man, that’s not very jellicle of you.” and he proceeded to shut the hell up the rest of the way through a jellicle journey.
Jellicle from beginning to end, Cats displays true wizardries of incompetence early on, with computer graphic imaging that’s, well, let’s say jellicle. I don’t know what it means either, man. Just seems to be the thing to say here.
Hideous from head to toe, we must listen to these herds sing about being a cat and how lovely it is while at the same time looking forward to showcasing their talents in a competition to see who gets to die. Yes, really.
Rather than commit suicide, these jellicle cats must go to a jellicle ball and demonstrate jellicle skills before being chosen as the jellicle cat and flying into the jellicle sky in a jellicle balloon until it inevitably breaks and they fall to their jellicle deaths to begin a jellicle new life.
While Andrew Lloyd Webber is a well-respected individual and has penned many masterful manuscripts, Cats is effortlessly awful. The original musical made nearly $4 billion worldwide and it’s quite a jellicle mystery how something this terrible made that jellicle a sum. Few jellicle songs hit, with lyrics approaching insanity with the amount of repetition they’re utilizing. Let’s take a look at the opener, shall we?
“Because Jellicles are/And Jellicles do/Jellicles do and Jellicles would/Jellicles would and Jellicles can/Jellicles can and Jellicles do.”
If you need an explanation for the verse, it’s likely you aren’t in the jellicle mood or maybe you’re simply not jellicle enough to understand because jellicle.
That phrase will be rammed down your throat a thousand times over this quagmire’s quicksand running time of 110 minutes and if you’re hard of hearing, fear not, for the jellicle verse you might have just missed will likely be repeated in the very next jellicle line because that is what jellicles do and what jellicles do jellicles would and what jellicles would jellicles should and what jellicles should jellicles can and what jellicles can jellicles do.
If you think I’m being a patronizing prick, feel free to believe so but know this jellicle journal is but only as jellicle as the jellicle piece we’re discussing here on this jellicle day.
As audiences weave their way through emotions ranging from apoplectic to lifeless, Cats spends song after song discussing its jellicle contestants for the jellicle ball, including one tremendously poor effort surrounding James Corden’s character, in which this stupendously fat lard of a cat pronounces how much he loves being fat and how excited he is to be reborn so he can become fat all over again.
Yup, really want that guy to win. Seems like a real champion of jellicle cats.
Idris Elba’s Macavity is a magical cat who can teleport (!) for Christ’s sake and he has decided, for whatever reason (if you haven’t noticed already, Cats isn’t very caught up on the whole explaining things aspect of storytelling) that he is going to use this power to transport all of his fellow jellicle competitors onto a barge so he is the only remaining candidate for the one-way ticket to death, a ticket Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy (a totally normal and acceptable name for a cat) refuses to give Macavity because he isn’t jellicle enough; he doesn’t know the jellicle way.
With a plot dumb as nails, characters almost universally unlikable (one cat in particular, played by Jennifer Hudson, is ostracized and hated amongst the jellicle cats for some reason, a not-so-subtle nod to racism) and music, the meat and potatoes of a musical, directly and completely responsible for all ear cancer, there simply isn’t anything of substance to find in Cats.
But again, maybe I’m just not jellicle enough.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Spider-Man: Far From Home, Dumb and Dumber, Pokemon Detective Pikachu, The Matrix Reloaded,Wanted)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (XXX, The Silence, The Fast and the Furious, Brooklyn’s Finest, Death Race)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Doom, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Power Rangers, Underworld: Evolution)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-Rise, Most Likely to Die, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Crow: City of Angels, Centurion)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Extendables, The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast)
My score for Cats: 12.
This was the first film I decided to watch of the decade, pressured and punched by a dear friend and loving brother before I gave in due to a lack of additional shoulder muscle. I can say, with nearly complete confidence (George Clooney’s The American is awfully close) that Cats is the worst piece I’ve ever laid eyes on in a theater. Truly abhorrent, degrading and insulting material. I hope it wins all the Razzies.