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Right, I have poured myself a nice strong Coping Gin, so very soon I will be giving a brief extemporised presentation on the subject of “Cats” (2019) the movie, which I saw with @SnarkyPlatypus in Sydney this afternoon. Prepare yourself for the magic.
No, @markhumphries, because I’m sitting here in my underpants and with my Coping Gin and the world is not ready for a livestream of this nature.
So, the thing to remember about “Cats”, any version, is that it’s all Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fault. There is literally no reason why that cunt should’ve been made Baron Lloyd-Webber. HE IS IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS FFS. Anyway...
As background, this whole debacle began with some innocuous whimsical poems by some bloke called T S Elliot. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Possu… You can read “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” here because it’s out of copyright (except in the US). fadedpage.com/showbook.php?p…
Some of you are asking questions. I will take questions at the end.
“Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” was published in 1939 and then Europe descended into one of the bloodiest wars in history, so you draw your own conclusions.
According to Wikipedia, Lloyd Webber “had originally set music to ‘Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats’ at the age of 15” so obviously it’s brilliant. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Ll…
Overall, though, the thing to remember about all of this is that while the poems are delightful little character portraits, there is no plot connecting them. In setting them to music and assembling them into a stage show, Lloyd Webber pretty much failed to change that.
I mean just read this. What even is this bullshit synopsis? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_(mus…
Nevertheless, “Despite its unusual premise that deterred investors initially, the musical turned out to be an unprecedented commercial success, with a worldwide gross of US$3.5 billion by 2012.” en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_(mus… Which just goes to show how fucked our species is.
Also, at this stage, there is no evidence that I’ve seen which would suggest that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a long-term pedophile. So at least there’s that.
I haven’t researched T S Elliott.
So, “Cats”, whatever version you see, is basically this...
Act 1: A disconnected series of character portraits, of which there are far too many because there are far too many characters with only vague motivations, but Lloyd Webber wants to include all these goddam poems.
In this Act, an abandoned kitten called Victoria, because of course she is, is hit upon by every other cat because cats are horny and we’ve got to get through this damn musical somehow. Every fucking character has a song. Some of the songs are kinda OK.
Act 2: Everyone competes in a kind of 1930s “Britain’s Got Talent” to earn the right to be hurled into the sky* to be killed and reborn, because somehow everyone has forgotten that cats have nine lives.

* The “Heaviside Layer”, no less. This is bullshit. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennelly–…
It’s more or less “Logan’s Run” but with cats.
And with singing, obviously.
But without Michael York. But you get that.
Half a sec. I’ve just had to hunt down another bottle of Coping Gin.
Right now I’m still trying to get over the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s net worth is £820 million.
I mean how the fuck is this even a thing?
Anyway, back to the review. “Cats” itself is basically a bunch of songs in search of a plot, and this 2019 movie is no exception. The key difference is, of course, the fur.
Now a lot’s been said about the CGI, and about putting human faces on furries who are waggling their tails and presenting their arses in a sexual display. And to be clear there’s a lot of that.
“‘A furry orgy in a dumpster’: what the reviews say about Cats” theguardian.com/film/2019/dec/… And yes, the cats go through the trash looking for food and they’re... affectionate.
But the thing is, I didn’t have the “uncanny valley” reaction to the human body shape / furry bodies / human faces / cat ears thing. For me, disbelief was suspended pretty much immediately. It was a world, and I was in it.
That said, yes, it was shoddy. Poor attention to detail. We still saw the cut where in some scenes Judy Dench’s hands hadn’t been replaced with the fur-on-back-of-hands version. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_(201…
And this. Yes, I saw this comment and watched the performers’ feet and couldn’t take my eyes away.
But yeah, once they’d gone with the “We are all furries” creative decision I was with it. I don’t think that’s the thing we should be critical of.
Let’s look at this as a movie in its own right. As a stage musical, but with many more stages that a theatre could provide, and as a musical entertainment.
I has to be said: The singing was very average. Very.
As Victoria, Francesca Hayward is a good ballet dancer. I agree with everyone who said it’d be great if she’d had more than one facial expression through the entire first act.
In her defence, her character’s main role in the first act is to be hit upon by every male character because she’s fresh meat. This isn’t the film’s fault. This is the so-called “plot”. She’s just meant to dance, which she seems to do OK but like it’s all with ping-pong balls.
Not in a Thai sex bar sense. In a 3D motion capture sense.
The main problem, and this is a problem with many musicals, is that it hasn’t decided whether the big-name stars are there to sing or to act.
Take Dame Judy Dench, one of the finest actors of her generation, who plays Old Deuteronomy, traditionally a male character. She’s good with her words and gestures, but is weak at the singing. Because that’s not her gig.
I also found her cat ears totally beguiling, but that’s a whole personal sexual thing that’s best left for another time. Mrrrowl.
Now what’s the biggest song in “Cats”? It’s “Memory”, right? It’s the centrepiece torch song of the whole damn thing. Sung by the character Grizabella, the faded star. (No spoilers. I won’t say what her plot role is.)
Now in the film, Grizabella is played by Jennifer Hudson. She plays the character well, but her performance of the song “Memory” is so over-wrought it’s the aural equivalent of “chewing the scenery”. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chew_the_… Just pull it back, girl!
By comparison, Francesca Hayward as Victoria is so, so weak. Virtually no emotion. Some critics have pointed to the inconsistency of mood in the film, and they’re right.
I won’t go through the whole cast, because as I said before there’s way too many pointless characters in this story. But here’s some notes.
Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots was a lark. The whole mice and cockroaches schtick was a bit WTF, but Wilson can scoff down a roach like the best of them. The role suited her.
Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat was spot on. Another character that is irrelevant to the main story arc, such that it is, but an old theatre queen playing an old theatre queen was the right choice. He knows how to chew scenery properly.
Taylor Swift as Bombalurina was the producers’ prick-tease. Her character’s appearance was a complete deus ex machine, and at just a few minutes hardly justified her fee. Still, looks good on the posters.
Who else? Idris Elba as Macavity was OK, but then that character is basically a WTF why are you even here this “villain” sub-plot doesn’t even make sense. Blame Lloyd Webber. Elba’s career will survive.
Oh. Taylor Swift. Yes, there’s a new song co-written with Lloyd Webber. “Beautiful Ghosts”. It’s worked into the plot OK, and it’s a fair song, but the only full rendition is when Swift sings it over the end credits. Such a tease.
I won’t dig into any more individual characters. But when the ’pedia says “inconsistent tone” I agree. “Cats” (2019) was a disconnected series of songs and dance routines. I mean, that’s the plot, but as a movie that shit should be joined up.
As I said earlier, “Why is any of this happening?” If the whole night is a song contest to win a prize, why is newcomer Victoria even allowed in the room? Why isn’t she pushed under a bus?
Why does Dench as Old Deuteronomy even give Victoria the time of day if her vision of a cat with soul is [spoiler alert!] Grizabella singing “Memory”? This is Lloyd Webber’s fault, obviously.
Why doesn’t Dench’s Old Deuteronomy snuggling with Hayward’s Victoria at the end of the film turn into an intergenerational lesbian furry sex scene? That at least would provide a comprehensible story arc!
Why didn’t someone, at some point in the production, ask “Wait, why are we doing this again?”
Overall, given the reviews, I was hoping that “Cats” was something I could hate and laugh at. But in the end, I was just left wondering why anyone bothered. Why they bothered. Why I bothered. I wanted it to be bad. It was just... meh. A wasted effort all round.
So that’s the main extemporised thread. If that was fun, please consider the tip jar. stilgherrian.com/tip/ I’ll now pour another Coping Gin and take your questions.
This question is outside scope. Next question.
Yes, mostly the same songs, though with some rearrangement. The Wikipedia articles document this.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_(mus…
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_(201…
Pretty much, yes. “Cats” a bunch of characters and then it... stops. That’s not the film. It’s because Andrew Lloyd Webber forgot to add a plot. At least with “Jesus Christ Superstar” we kinda knew what everyone’s motivation was.
Pro Tip: “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats” is not The Gospels.
Maybe I am more attuned to Cat Communication.
This is a fair reaction. Lloyd Webber has a lot to answer for here. But at the same time I reckon that if you’re spending $100 million you should at least try to fix some of the flaws.
Counterpoint: Why don’t the female characters have eight boobs? Or the male characters have balls?
Yes, Rebel Wilson’s character Jennyanydots is canon. Including the part-the-flesh thing.
Yes, if you haven’t read this thread on “Starlight Express” you’re missing out.
This is an excellent question. Not being an expert, I can only point to the ’Pedia article. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_(mus…
Well here you go. Let’s assign blame appropriately.
Look all this Coping Gin doesn’t pay for itself. Please help. stilgherrian.com/tip.
So yeah, “Cats” (2019) in summary: Andrew Lloyd Webber and co-conspirators had once stitched together a Frankenstein of a musical from a bunch of old poems, which we knew. Using computers to turn a bunch of actors and dancers into furries failed to change that. One star.
Just so you all know, I’m still here in just my underpants.
Also, there wasn’t a single furry in “Cats” that I wanted to fuck.
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