What the Jellicle is going on?

Cats fails to catch audiences in its claws


A shot from “Cats” featuring Francesca Hayward as Victoria(left) and Bluey Robinson as Alonzo(right)

Owen Parker, Lifestyle Editor

On December 20, 2019, audiences were “blessed” with the most “Jellicle” film ever, Cats. For those who don’t keep up with Broadway, the movie Cats is based on the musical of the same name created by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the show which first debuted in 1988 has made a whopping 3.5 billion dollars. Universal Studios, however, who both green-lighted and produced the film, overestimated its success on the silver screen.

Cats for those who, luckily, haven’t seen either the film or the play, both of which I have seen, is about a group of London street cats who form a gang called the Jellicles. Both the play and the movie explain, poorly, that each year during the “Jellicle Moon” one Jellicle is chosen by the leader of the cats, Old Deuteronomy, to ascend to the “Heaviside Layer” in order to be reborn as a new and better Jellicle cat.

Throughout the story, you meet the various Jellicle cats who are competing for a chance to be chosen, like The Rum Tum Tugger, a cat who is a ladies man, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, a pair of mischievous cats who steal food from rich humans, and Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat, who, as you might have guessed, is a cat who helps the humans on the trains of London. The story concludes with Grizibella, a cat who was forced to leave the Jellciles, being chosen by Old Deuteronomy, after singing her song Memories, to ascend into the Heaviside Layer.

The film has many negatives, but it is “Jellicle” in a few ways. Firstly, the film has a spectacular cast, for instance, Idris Elba as McCavity, Taylor Swift as McCavitiy’s henchman, Jennifer Hudson as Grizebella, and Jason Derulo as The Rum Tum Tugger. However, I suspect that the only reason this movie has this all-star cast is because of Universal’s need for an incentive to get people to see it. The inclusion of a “main” character is also a positive for the film because it helps the average person follow the confusing and complicated story of Cats. Lastly, the other positive of the movie is the original song written for the movie by Tayor Swift called Beautiful Ghosts, which is sung following Grizibella’s song about her memories.

However, the film is not “Jellicle” for many reasons. For one, the CGI cats are horrifying to look at, for example, the faces of the actors move off of the head of the CGI cat many times throughout the film, and additionally, the cats are just generally off-putting, like seeing a full human body covered with fur that also has a human face is truly terrifying.

Another negative of the film is its confusing story. Although the inclusion of Victoria in the film helps the story immensely, I still left the theatre with more questions than I did answers. Take, for example, the Heaviside Layer. This idea or place is never clearly explained in the film, and all that is explained about it is that the chosen Jellicles go there to be reborn.  As I left the movie, I was still left questioning where the layer is, what it is, or what happens to the cat’s body when they are reborn?

Cats is an experience I would recommend to no one. I don’t think anyone should go and see this movie; in fact, I don’t think anyone did. The budget for Cats was 97 million dollars, but as of January 23, 2019, Cats has only made 26.7 million, which means that the studio has lost about 69 million dollars.

I give this movie a 3.5 out of 10, most of the songs were pretty good and the cast was impressive, but I was uncomfortable because of the CGI and I was bored with its overly complicated story. I would recommend this for people who want a good laugh or desperately need a nap.