Cats: The Jonathan Hortenz Review

I was overjoyed this week when Mikenificent (I refuse to acknowledge his alleged lordship and the fact I refer to him by such a ridiculous name bruises my sanity) contacted me and told me he was sending me a ticket to see “that new movie everyone’s been talking about for months” because I assumed he meant Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. While I had already seen the film recreationally at its midnight opening the chance to see it again on someone else’s dime and then be paid to wax melodically about it for hundreds of words was a Christmas gift I never expected. It was, in short, a film I enjoyed and perhaps they’ll give me the chance to tell you why some day but that was not the movie I was sent to review, dear reader.

Never has a release date been so threatening. All images taken from the film’s IMDB page.

I was sent to review Cats.

My original review for this was a string of expletives against (ugh) Mikenificent, as his Fictospheric cohorts claim that he is solely responsible for sending me to see this alleged film and I’m inclined to believe them, for when I contacted him in the hope that this was, at best, a mistake and at worst a cruel prank he assured me that it was neither but rather a sincere attempt to get me to review it. He even claimed it was “a beautiful disaster” and ensured I will never be visiting him as he said that he would be purchasing it on blu-ray on day one so he could show it to others, as if this was something to be proud of. I shudder to think what other travesties haunt his collection of physical media.

Some in the theater began laughing uncontrollably when the first cat appeared on screen, and when the other cats appeared their laughter intensified. I imagine this is when their minds broke.

For those of you who are unaware, Cats is based on a musical which, in turn, is based on a book of poems by T. S. Eliot though there is no poetry to be seen in any frame of this film though there is music. There is such music that I fear that the medium has forever been ruined for me, as each and every song is about something related to a particular cat or cats as a species. I must confess that this strict adherence to the theme is almost admirable though it’s most likely must closer to insanity which is a condition I feel much closer to now than before I had seen this movie. I still can’t fully comprehend what I saw and while you’ve likely seen the trailers, they are akin to looking at a solar eclipse through a camera obscura. Actually seeing the film is like using binoculars to get a better view of the same event.

I can only imagine many of these actors were involved because the casting director had witnessed them performing some sort of unspeakable act and were therefore assured they’d be up for another.

The film has a plot, or at least a stated purpose: a cat will be sent to the Heaviside Layer. Not just any cat, but the most jellicle cat. I don’t know what either of these things means, though I think jellicle might be a bastardization of angelic. While the various cats prove their worth through musical numbers about themselves, another cat named Macavity (Idris Elba) is whisking his perceived opponents off to a barge in the middle of the Thames. Macavity possesses magical powers. We do not know why. The cat in charge of choosing the jellicle cat and sending them to the Heaviside Layer is Old Deuteronomy (Dame Judi Dench), possibly because she is old. There’s an entire song about it but I can’t remember it.

The film’s lead, if you could call this role that. Hayward was enjoyable, at least.

The film has characters. Its lead is Victoria (Francesca Hayward), a white cat who only has one name. She’s initially mocked for this and told cats typically have three names. She never acquires any other names as one might think would happen, and exists mainly to cavort with all the other cats and occasionally move what passes for a plot forward. There’s a wide variety of other cats but it’s easy to pick out which ones are important because they’re wearing clothes, except when they’re not wearing clothes. One cat is able to remove her fur, revealing more fur and a dancer’s outfit underneath. I relate this to you because I cannot fathom why this was in the film, and while I initially chose to perceive this as being in that odd dimension of “musical number logic” where things don’t need to make sense while they’re being sung, she later removes her fur to escape a trap she’s been in for the majority of the film.

Jennifer Hudson sings a song I’d heard before (“Memory”) but had no idea it came from this because it’s actually good.

The plot and characters do not matter at all. The music doesn’t matter at all. None of it matters at all, and at the end we watch the chosen cat ascend to the sky on a chandelier held aloft by a hot air balloon. The cat simply drifts away, and I’m forced to assume these cats have simply been murdering a chosen cat every year out of some mistaken belief that this sends them to a better life. I’m forced to agree that death would be better than living among these cats.

I imagine seeing Taylor Swift like this would be some people’s fantasy. As it turns out, it’s actually a nightmare.

There are naked boobies. Yet there aren’t naked boobies. Each and every character is a human being laden with often faulty CGI and the initial sight of these creatures sent the entire theater (which was the smallest theater in the building, which is often where unpopular movies are sent to die) into hysterics. Most cats have been smoothed down so that their more human characteristics are largely unseen. The exceptions are the Rebel Wilson and Taylor Swift cats, who were not smoothed down as much and I can’t for the life of my figure out why these two were spared. One could argue that each and every boobie in this film is naked, but why would you? The entire thing is unfriendly, like an ancient god who seeks to toy with you before they kill you. Except in this case, you never die.

This was not a film. This was a hate crime against the entirety of the human race and despite what Mikenificent thinks, there is nothing redeemable about this film and all prints should be burned and all files about it should be deleted. I will also be appealing to Jeffrey Holloway and Randall Malus to see if one of them could be put in charge of choosing which movies I review from now on for I no longer trust Mikenificent at all. I especially hate that his name no longer sounds alien to me but, rather, like any other name. I almost expect him to post a video shortly where he’s dressed like a cat singing about whatever cat things a Mikenificent would do and, dear god, I hope one of the others can take over my assignments. I fear for my future sanity otherwise.

Macavity is one of two cats who can do actual magic in this film.

In short, do not see this film and don’t be surprised if the member of this group’s founding triumvirate who appreciates it goes off the deep end shortly. I’m glad I’m not on this site’s staff page for it’s probably going to be the evidence for some sort of crime quite soon.

If I had to see this, so must you, but count yourself lucky IMDB had no images of her after she’d torn off her fur.

EDIT: A previous version cited the song as “Memories” when it is, in fact, a singular “Memory”.

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