Alright now, everybody just settle down. Cats is actually mildly entertaining, and before I explain that, I think I need to offer up some caveats. First, I don’t understand or care for musical theater. I love live music, love dance, love live theater, squash them together and it’s like turducken to me. All of these things are fine on their own and they don’t contribute much to each other. Second, I’ve never seen Cats, mostly for the aforementioned reason, but also, it sounds really dumb. Even if I liked musical theater, a bunch of humans hopping around in cat suits with stupid names hoping to ascend to another world… It just sounds wacky. So, for me it seems essential in seeing the film Cats to suspend my disbelief and disdain around these things and recognize that people far smarter than me think musical theater is a miraculous artform and Cats is a classic. Ok. No problem. After that, Cats is pretty good. The art decoration and remarkable technical achievements are phenomenal and the singing and dancing (again, if you care for such things) keeps it a fun watch. I don’t know about all the overt sexuality criticisms that the film is getting, they’re people acting like cats; that’s how cats act. As is so often the case in most musicals, most of the actors are so busy dancing and singing that they forget they’re also supposed to act; this is particular problematic since director Tom Hooper likes close ups. We definitely see too many long shots of Royal Ballet principal ballerina Francesca Hayward’s protagonist Victoria mesmerized in wide-eyed, open-mouthed wonder a la Hermione Granger. Rebel Wilson is particularly off as a fat cat, but Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, and Idris Elba nail their roles. Jennifer Hudson, however, absolutely steals the movie with her heart-rending performance as outcast cat Grizella singing Memories. There are times when the scale seems slightly off, you can’t get past humans being cat-sized in a human house, but just watch their ears and their whiskers and you’ll be amazed. See it because it’s a masterful technical achievement and a fairly fun romp, but also because Jennifer Hudson will break your heart.

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