It probably won’t come as a shock to many that Tom Hooper’s film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats has made it in to our “Oh, The Humanity” section of films that are so bad they’re entertaining, from the moment the trailer dropped it was enormously mocked on social media, and the critics have clearly enjoyed getting their claws out and tearing the film apart in a whole host of one star reviews.
However Cats shouldn’t really be a candidate for Worst Ever Film lists, if only because it’s so fucking odd. The really bad films (for me, at least) are those which are utterly tedious and/or offensive, filled with poorly thought out ideas and the kind of dialogue that makes you want to not only cut off your ears but then to cook them and eat them and shit them out of your arse, just to make sure they can never be reattached.
This is just a right old gigantic headfuck of a movie however, an absurdly misjudged film that you can’t quite believe exists, that at no point did someone take Tom Hooper aside and say to him “Hey, Tom, you do know this is just utter madness, yeah? That it looks bloody weird and how, how did you ever think this was a good idea?” Nearly all of the cats just look plain strange and like one of the creations from The Island of Doctor Moreau, the mixture of human faces on cat like bodies is freaky and unnatural and I’m amazed more people weren’t laughing as much as I was during the film due to their outlandish look.
Because it’s all but a kids film and U rated it’s unsurprising that they cats are completely free of genitals, but given that you’d think Hooper wouldn’t spend so much time having them thrust their groins in to the camera, or, as in the case of Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots have her spread her legs in an extremely sexual way which is one of the most peculiar parts of the film. The cgi elsewhere is somewhat odd too, sometimes effective but sometimes looking like it’s been nicked out of a lowbudget 1990’s PC adventure game.
On the plus side there is some gloriously mental imagery, Rebel Wilson’s number involves a sod load of cockroaches with human faces which the cats randomly swallow whole, and James Corden camps it up no end in his big song and dance number where Andrew Lloyd Webber and his co-lyricists Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe mock fat people, but at least it’s done in a ridiculously over the top manner. Also fun is “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” even if does contain some of the weakest cgi in the film, and a few of the other songs are presented in a pleasingly eccentric manner.
Unfortunately there are quite a few downsides, there’s a few parts of the movie which are rather boring (an overlong dance number when they first enter The Egyptian being particularly poor), Taylor Swift’s song is a bland one and Ian McKellen’s a bit naff, and though some have praised it I found both renditions of Memories to be a bit tepid, sung histrionically and lacking in spectacle. But most of the time it’s a bizarre old romp, and quite captivating if only because it’s such a misconceived movie, and if watched with low expectations and the awareness that it’s in no way a good film, it is one which is surprisingly fascinating, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.