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Gabrielle: Why the edited version of “Cats” wasn’t an improvement

January 27, 2020

After a horde of poor reviews and critiques, a re-edited “Cats” was released to theatres just one week after its opening weekend. Allegedly, the new version fixed some of the blatant mistakes in the digital fur technology. However, after noticing bare human feet dancing over floating human-cat hybrids, I began to doubt how effective these edits were. 

I am not the biggest fan of the original Broadway musical, but the eccentric songs and lack of real plot makes it a legend among musical fans. I had an idea of the overall outline of the musical and major characters because of its relevance among musical theatre aficionados. 

Or at least that’s what I thought. I wasn’t so sure after the bipedal cats engaged in a ritual welcoming the Francesca Hayward cat and then proceeded to explain to her why the name “Victoria” was not an acceptable cat name. These Jellicle cats then hissed at Victoria, which somehow made it even harder to watch. 

While the CGI is objectively horrid, I was mostly disappointed in the poor execution of the screen adaptation. Selecting “Cats” to bring to the movie theatres was a lofty goal for director Tom Hooper, despite having input from the musical’s original composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

As mentioned, the beginning of the movie set Victoria as the protagonist; this was an interesting choice to bring her out of the background shadows and into the main character spotlight. In the attempt to make “Cats” have a linear plot, several cats were introduced but then abducted via magic by Macavity. The audience had a hunch that he was supposed to be the “bad guy,” but absolutely no context was given for his character besides a few tattered posters. 

I wish I could say I became accustomed to the cringy cat-like behavior by the time that Grizabella the Glamour Cat emerged from a dark alleyway in a dirty fur coat (Who’s fur was that? Are the other cats naked if they don’t wear clothes?). Instantly, the Jellicles started hissing at her because apparently she had worked with Macavity previously. Later, during the iconic song “Memory,” I should have felt sympathy for the character, but I was distracted by confusion and Jennifer Hudson’s long acrylic nails on human hands. 

I regret spending an unnecessary amount of money to see “Cats.” It is most definitely not the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good type of movie. I can only describe this movie as like watching a car crash: it’s horrendous for everyone involved, but you can’t look away out of macabre interest while some speedily leave. 

Out of all the musicals to choose from, why was “Cats” chosen? It already is a bizarre musical, but this movie’s attempt to expand the original musical’s niche audience  miserably failed.

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