Cats, director Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s blockbuster musical about cats with names like “Bustopher Jones,” “Bombalurina,” and “Rumpleteazer,” has finally made its way into the world. Hooper finally finished the film just the day before its New York premiere on Monday, but lovers of kitsch and camp have been waiting on tenterhooks for its release since the movie’s extremely cursed trailer exploded online in July.
Initial reviews (re: tweets) from those fortunate enough to attend early screenings displayed high levels of incredulousness and horror. As Vanity Fair film critic K. Austin Collins tweeted, “the people who sat down and came up with Cats in the first place need help. they need god. thats the only review that matters. IMO.”
But the official reviews are in, and they are not enthusiastic. Cats currently boasts a 17% “Rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and while critics have admitted that the film has a kitschy, acid trip-like appeal, they’ve savaged everything from its extremely confusing plot to the cats’ human breasts and digital fur.
The consensus seems to be that while making Cats is a deeply weird enterprise in and of itself, Hooper didn’t make the film weird enough. “The bobbing butts have their obvious appeal,” Manohla Dargis wrote for the New York Times. “But Hooper’s mistake is that he’s tried to class up the joint. What a blunder! In feline terms, this is a movie without epic hairballs, without rear-end sniffing, without a deep, wounding scratch. Instead the movie tamps down and tidies its innate strangeness, cutting carefully loose only in its more comic numbers.”
“To assess Cats as good or bad feels like the entirely wrong axis on which to see it,” Alison Willmore wrote for Vulture. “It is, with all affection, a monstrosity.”
Over at GQ, Gabriella Paiella wrote a series of simple questions that you’d think the studio might have considered before unleashing this picture. “How big, exactly, are these cats so that a mouse is proportionately the size of a fly, and yet a bowl of potatoes is the size of a sedan, and a ring is big enough to fit as a bracelet?” she wondered. “The cats are definitely poly, right?”
They’re definitely poly.