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The First Reviews Of "Cats" Are, Well, A Catastrophe

"Cats always feels like it’s two seconds away from turning into a furry orgy in a dumpster. That’s the energy you have to sit with for almost two hours."

Posted on December 19, 2019, at 11:45 a.m. ET

Universal Pictures

The review embargo for the upcoming movie adaptation of Cats, directed by Tom Hooper, lifted on Wednesday night and critics all across the internet have been coughing up furballs.

If you're not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats is based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. It's essentially about a bunch of felines — called Jellicle cats. They each perform songs on the night of the Jellicle Ball until one particular kitty named Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench in this film) announces which cat gets to go to the Heaviside Layer, aka heaven, where they are reborn. Kinda dark.

Cooper's film has an all-star ensemble cast, including Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Hudson, and many more. But apparently it's not enough to save the film.

Right now, the Cats movie sits at a dismal 17% on Rotten Tomatoes, and its Metacritic score is no better, sitting at a very low 31, which signals "generally unfavorable reviews."

Anyway, now that the film has been seen by the press, here are some of the cattiest reviews collected for your enjoyment:

Universal Pictures

"Cats Review: I Have Seen Sights No Human Should See" — Gizmodo

"I witnessed an entire man, knit cap and coat, just standing in a scene among a gathering of cats," wrote Alex Cranz. "I saw a terrifying gray statue looming over a character, only for it to blink and realize it’s a woman who is a cat, but they colored her and then forgot to add fur."

Cranz later added: "The fur breasts that distracted us in the trailers are at least subdued. Everyone’s digitally androgynous, as if baby’s first Photoshopper had a little too much fun with the smoothing tool, though some are smoother than others."

"Cats Review: They Dance, They Sing, They Lick Their Digital Fur" — The New York Times

"Part of the pleasure of theater (if you’re a partisan) is this human factor; but without the presence of hard-working troupers in fun fur in this Cats, all that’s left are canned images of fit-looking people meowing and raising their rumps high in the air," wrote critic Manohla Dargis.

"The bobbing butts have their obvious appeal," Dargis said. "But Hooper’s mistake is that he’s tried to class up the joint. What a blunder! In feline terms, this is a movie without epic hairballs, without rear-end sniffing, without a deep, wounding scratch."

"Cats Is What You’d See if Your Third Eye Suddenly Opened" — Polygon

"The facts are these: Cats undermines itself in both editing and musical arrangement, barely has a plot to hang its hat on, and is CGI-ed into oblivion," wrote Karen Han. "Yet there’s something weirdly wonderful about just how committed Hooper is to his vision, which feels like it should have been audience-tested into something less phantasmagorical."

Universal Pictures

"Watching Cats Is Like a Descent Into Madness" — Collider

"But if it wasn’t enough to make the cats horny (why are they so horny), Hooper also feels the need to make it gross by having them dig through trash and play up their animal instincts," wrote Matt Goldberg. "Cats always feels like it’s two seconds away from turning into a furry orgy in a dumpster. That’s the energy you have to sit with for almost two hours."

"Yes, Cats Is as Bad as It Looks" — AV Club

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky wrote: "Many of these effects appear unfinished, with noticeable differences in resolution and animation between principals and background characters and at least one instance in which a rendering error appears to have made it into the release version of the film."

Vishnevetsky highlighted a weird visual effects moment in the movie, where Dench, 85, "is at one point depicted stretching an unconvincing digital leg behind her head."

"The moment is the film in a nutshell: misguided in concept and a failure in execution," Vishnevetsky said.

"Cats Review — A Purr-fectly Dreadful Hairball of Woe" — The Guardian

"The setting is London, it does look post-nuclear," wrote Peter Bradshaw. "There aren’t any people, so maybe there were Bomb blasts — or maybe a bio disaster, causing cat-human mutants with digital fur."

"As they gaze at the greenscreen and sashay and crawl," Bradshaw continued. "It’s weird to behold them all gurning and acting, And why do so many resemble Darth Maul? Did director Tom Hooper intend this appearance?"

"Cats Is Good. Cats Is Bad. Cats Is Cats." — Vulture

"To assess Cats as good or bad feels like the entirely wrong axis on which to see it. It is, with all affection, a monstrosity," wrote film critic Alison Willmore, a former BuzzFeed News writer.

"Cats: Film Review" — Variety

"Nine may not be enough lives for some of the stars to live down their involvement in this poorly conceived and executed adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical," wrote Peter Debruge.

"This uneven eyesore turns out to be every bit the Jellicle catastrophe the haters anticipated, a half-digested hairball of a movie in which Hooper spends too much energy worrying about whether the technology is ready to accommodate his vision," he wrote.

Universal Pictures

At the very least, Cats seems like a really good time if you enjoy really bizarre movies. Will you be seeing it when it opens this Friday? And what will you be drinking if you do go?


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