Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Despite Its All-Star Cast, 'Cats' Falls Flat

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 7:00 PM

click to enlarge WORKING TITLE PICTURES
  • Working Title Pictures
There was probably a time and place when it made sense to turn Cats, the musical that made its debut in 1981, into a theatrical release.

But that time and place has placed. Even though the musical continues to draw crowds wherever it plays, the songs and storyline in the Andrew Lloyd Weber play clearly feel dated and don't cry out for a cinematic adaptation.



But that hasn't stopped Hollywood from trying, and Cats shows at select theaters tomorrow night and opens areawide on Friday.

But despite an all-star cast that includes James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen and Francesca Hayward, the film falls flat.

The movie centers on Victoria (Hayward), a white cat who, after losing her father and mother, bonds with a group of cats hanging out in a criminal hideout in London's grunge-y sewers. Casting Hayward, the principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London, in the lead role was a brilliant decision by director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl). Her dancing brings a real vibrancy to the part, and the physically fit actress/dancer looks great in the somewhat-creepy motion-capture suit that the characters all don.

Victoria quickly learns that her newfound feline friends fear a certain Macavity (Elba), who has imprisoned Demeter (Daniela Norman) and threatens the rest of the cats too. The cats cling to a hope, however, that they can be reborn into a new life after performing at the annual Jellicle Ball.

Tradition has it that Old Deuteronomy (Dench) chooses the cat that gets to float away, but Macavity throws a wrench into the festivities when he whisks Deuteronomy away in a shower of sparks and has her locked up on an old ship with Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson) and Buster Jones (Corden).

In one of the film’s best moments, Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) tries to bring Old Deuteronomy back by using his magical powers. His song and dance routine is one of the film’s few segments that sparkles, particularly at the song’s conclusion when Mistoffeless floats into the air while shuffling a deck of cards.

The film’s other magical moment comes as Grizabella the Glamour Cat (Jennifer Hudson), an outcast, sings “Memory” in front of Deuteronomy and the cats to try to win them over. Hudson’s operatic vocals give the song its power even if the cheesy synths make the song sound rather dated.

In the end, Cats just seems like the movie-based-on-a-musical that no one asked for. While the end of the year usually brings with it at least one Oscar-nominated musical, this ill-conceived movie isn't likely to rake in any significant awards.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Tags: , , , ,

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Now Playing

Cats is not showing in any theaters in the area.

What others are saying

  • Comments

    Subscribe to this thread:

    Add a comment

    Newsletters

    Never miss a beat

    Sign Up Now

    Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

    Calendar

    © 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
    Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


    Website powered by Foundation