Reviewed by Angelica Campion

In 1985/6 I worked in the theatre in London’s West End, doing the wigs for Guys & Dolls. We would go out drinking in Soho with crew members from other shows. The dressers from Cats were all bonkers. 

Universal Pictures is also bonkers for allowing Cats to be unleashed from the relative safety of the theatre onto unsuspecting cinema audiences. It’s a ghastly train wreck of a film. Ill-conceived, disturbing, utterly confusing and yet – hilarious.

We went with our Christmas house guests to the Hastings Odeon, (four adults/three elder teens) and thank god it was the screen with the fancy new clean seats, rather than the ones coated in slime, germs and popcorn. My husband had read the reviews of Cats and dragged us all there as a christmas treat, saying “Let’s hope it’s as bad as they say!”

It sure was. Cats is a Felinenium Gingercaticus, a monstrous visual cacophony.

A universal truth is that people dressed as cats look creepy, weird and wrong, so just the film starting was enough to set us all off. Not just laughing, oh no. We were crying. 

Take cover musical-haters! The songs are wall to wall, with virtually no dialogue in between and no discernible plot either, as the lyrics are taken from a collection of poems: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot. This is ok in the theatre where you go for the immersive experience, but every reason not to make it into a film, surely. Another good reason not to was Jennifer Hudson’s tortured rendition of Memories – hideously unforgettable in every way. Suffering from cat flu, her nose was permanently covered in cat-snot-dribble, her furry face twisted in misery, no doubt anticipating the dreadful reviews.

Why did anyone think this movie was a good idea, and for a budget of nearly 300 million dollars!?  Why does this female cat have boobs and this one doesn’t? Why did these actors agree to humiliate themselves? (None of them are hard up.) Why do these cats have human hands and feet? Why?! You just wanted it to end so you could go home, eat mince pies and die on the sofa.

Through the darkness, from the safety of her seat, an irate Cats-fan woman shouted “Why don’t you go home? You’re ruining it for the rest of us!” I want to say to her that we weren’t laughing for the whole two hours and when we did, we made a big effort to do so quietly. 

Whether you like this kind of entertainment or not, some shows simply don’t make the transition well from the theatre to the screen. Cats is one of them.

I googled Alan Rickman and Cats in the vain hope there was a connection between them which I could use to justify saying something about this actor, whom I had the misfortune to glue a wig onto at my next job on Les Liaisons Dangereuses. All I found was a page on tumblr called kittensandalanrickman about whether there is any evidence of him having kittens in his hair. Anyway. He was desperately unpleasant and scared the shit out of me.

Cats made my Christmas.

Angelica’s novel The Cat Butlers, is available as an e-book on Amazon Kindle.

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