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Cats reviews: New musical adaptation is ‘like slowly going insane’, critics say

New film has been compared to The Human Centipede and a ‘furry orgy in a dumpster’

Adam White
Thursday 19 December 2019 13:41
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Cats - Trailer 2

First glimpsed in a furry, sinister and horribly rendered trailer that broke the internet in July, Cats was hardly destined to be 2019’s late-breaking masterpiece.

But even with expectations at their lowest, somehow the overwhelmingly negative response to the film itself has come as a surprise.

The film’s review embargo, which broke at the strike of midnight, has given way to more journalistic bafflement, oddball analogies and risible cat puns than anyone could have ever predicted.

Starring the likes of Judi Dench, James Corden, Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift, Cats transfers Andrew Lloyd Webber’s equally deranged stage musical to the screen, using “digital fur technology” to morph its stars into oddly sexualised human-cat hybrids.

“There are breakdancing felines that, when rendered in CGI, seem to lose the stiffness in their joints and turn into undulating tubes of cat meat,” writes Clarisse Loughrey in her two-star review for The Independent. “There are cats shoved in every corner of each frame, crawling and writhing around,” she adds, “It certainly stays faithful to the original show’s off-putting sexual energy.”

Critics elsewhere have been similarly unimpressed, and here’s our round-up of some of their funniest reviews...

Matt Goldberg, Collider

“Watching Cats makes you feel like you’re slowly going insane. Tom Hooper’s direction to his actors for this semblance of a plot was to act it super horny… But if it wasn’t enough to make the cats horny (why are they so horny?), Hooper also feels the need to make it gross by having them dig through trash and play up their animal instincts. Cats always feels like it’s two seconds away from turning into a furry orgy in a dumpster. That’s the energy you have to sit with for almost two hours.”

David Sexton, The Evening Standard

“You never stop thinking: doesn’t the great Judi Dench look daft, tricked out like that? She, like so many here, basically looks like she’s got a horribly advanced fungal problem… There are moments when this film seems not so much an adaptation of a nonsense classic as a horror story, nearly as obscene as The Human Centipede.”

Karen Han, Polygon

Cats is a fever dream, a hallucination, an approximation of what would happen if your third eye actually opened and you could suddenly see into the astral plane.”

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Furry orgy: Taylor Swift in Cats

Tim Robey, The Telegraph

“Once seen, the only realistic way to fix Cats would be to spay it, or simply pretend it never happened. Because it’s an all-time disaster – a rare and star-spangled calamity which will leave jaws littered across floors and agents unemployed.”

Marissa Martinelli, Slate

“Just when you think you’ve reasonably settled into the uncanny valley, Idris Elba’s coat comes off and you’re sucked even deeper into a void of horny confusion.”

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“At some point during Cats — I think I was trying to distract myself from the richly metaphorical image of James Corden sifting through garbage — it occurred to me that only one letter separates its title from Pixar’s Cars, to name another hermetically sealed, digitally polished, heavily anthropomorphized family-friendly entertainment set in a world from which actual human beings are creepily, apocalyptically absent.”

Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Without the presence of hard-working troupers in fun fur in this Cats, all that’s left are canned images of fit-looking people meowing and raising their rumps high in the air.”

Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

Cats is literally incredible. I hope I never see it again.”

Cats is released in UK cinemas on 20 December

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