Saturday, November 14, 2020

Review - Cats

 This whole thing has a fascinating downward arc. It started with actual cats, which of course are excellent. Then in 1939 T.S. Eliot wrote Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The poetry collection was entertaining enough, though surprisingly twee coming from one of the godfathers of moody modernism. In 1981 Andrew Lloyd Webber turned Eliot’s poems into a popular musical that – for better or worse – revolutionized the portrayal of felines by people in leotards. And now this. Despite the opportunity presented by nearly 40 years passing between the stage production and this screen adaptation, many of the artistic decisions seem ill-considered. The story leads off with an act of animal abuse. The effects, makeup and costuming create things that look neither like cats nor like people but rather some horrid hybrid designed to appeal only to audience members with a highly specific fetish. Technical problems abound; most noticeable is the characters’ scale variation from nearly human size to cat size to hamster size. With the assembled ensemble of talented singers, dancers and actors, a much better movie should have been made. See if desperate.