Friday Film Review: "CATS"
Is the transition of "CATS" the Broadway stage play to the silver screen really a "cat-tastrophe?” Here's Barb Bretz with this week’s Friday Film Review.
My goal in reviewing a film is to entice you to see it so I try to pick something I enjoyed. "CATS" the Broadway musical, was fun, the trailer intrigued me and I looked forward to the film. However, after the December 20th release, critic attacks were immediate and intense. Evidently Universal has even pulled it from Oscar consideration.
A giggling radio reviewer said it had become a challenge for film critics to out-do each other with scathing, comical reviews containing pitiful puns. On the bright side, one of the critics deemed it “destined to become a cult classic.” How could I not go and at least form my own opinion?
I'd heard negative comments about the lack of story, creepy costumes, overly-sexual movements, strange nonsensical sets, the list goes on. I sat in an empty theatre on New Year's day at 11:30 a.m. and watched alone as the Jellico cats introduced themselves. I wondered how many of the reviewers finding fault with so many elements of the film…remembered that the beloved stage play was also a weird one-of-a-kind event? Yet, it has a well-deserved legacy as one of the longest running Broadway musicals ever.
I did not find the film creepy, the cats overly erotic or the sets distracting. Why is that? I can't be the only person in America who found the diverse characteristics of the cats charming. Is it because I am a cat person at heart? Perhaps all the anti-CATS hype is fake news - just another political ploy to force division into our culture…pitting cat lovers against dog lovers?
Jennifer Hudson, the once glamorous Grizabella, brought deep emotion with her voice and passion. As always hearing 'Memories' brought a tear to my eye. The main cadre of cats are all talented performers with James Carden's Bustopher Jones and Rebel Wilson's Jennyanydots thrown in for comedy relief. Francesca Hayward, a principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet, took leave to portray Victoria. She was enchanting as the kitten who only wanted to be wanted.
38 years ago, Dame Judi Dench, was part of the original 1981 London cast playing both Jennyanydots and Grizabella. A torn Achilles tendon in rehearsal forced her to drop out. Now, as Old Deuteronomy, she teaches us how to properly address a cat...
“So first, your memory I'll jog… and say: A cat is not a dog.”
Would I give it a 'purr-fect 10?’ No. But I sure didn't mind starting out my new year with some familiar feline friends.
"CATS" is rated PG and runs 1 hour and 49 musical minutes. I'm Barb Bretz with your Friday Film Review. See you at the movies!