Cats (2019) was good. You read that right. Yes, I am in my right mind, and yes, I will die on this hill. When watching Cats in theater for the first time, I laughed, I cried, and I cringed—all three vital responses to Cats. Had this film been well-received, it would’ve been a loss.
Had film bros given Cats the attention they gave 1917 or that new Tarantino movie, it would’ve been all for naught. This movie isn’t supposed to be “good,” the CGI wasn’t supposed to be “realistic,” and the plot wasn’t supposed to be “clear.” This is Cats we’re talking about, goddammit, and we got exactly what we asked for.
From the opening scene, you see these cat-humans perform impressive dance numbers. If just for a second you could get over your furry-phobia and recognize that you are watching skilled performers execute difficult and mesmerizing dance numbers, and listen—just listen!—to the jovial voices sing infamous showtunes, you may just have a damn good time. If you applaud for every superhero movie that Hollywood shits out, you sure as hell better give a standing ovation to Skimbleshanks, the railway cat, as he taps his furry ass down the tracks.
It’s a disservice to creatives everywhere to discount the work these dancers and singers put in just because a little furry cat titty makes you uncomfortable. Grow up! You don’t have to like the movie, but you cannot discredit all of the performances…well, some of the performances.
However, no movie is without its flaws. I will grant Cats one single fault: Taylor Swift should not have been cast. I spent the entire movie braced for impact, waiting to see her feline image float onto the screen (that’s when I cringed, and only then). It’s a shame that Jennifer Hudson had to share the soundtrack with Taylor Swift. She brought nothing to the film besides a big name; and even then, there are plenty of talented singers who would’ve outshone Swift in the role. But I understand that Swift paid a lot of money to be a part of this film, and giving her the smallest role is ultimately fine.
If not Taylor Swift, though, who? A game I’ve been playing since seeing the movie is “cast them in Cats.” Take any celebrity and imagine them playing a character in this movie. Blake Shelton could be Bumbleskootin, the country cat. Timothée Chalamet could be Tiktockery, the e-boy cat. Zooey Deschanel could be Tinderella, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cat. Hillary Clinton could be Trouser, the TERF cat. Imagine these stars in CGI fur and twitching ears. Imagine them prancing around. Imagine…
Cats was fun! It was nice to see serious performers give serious performances in one of the most ridiculous films of the last decade. Tom Hooper executed something so masterfully wicked, so terrifyingly on par with the unease of the musical, something so iconic that my grandmother admitted she’d “have sex with that Idris Elba fella, in or out of the fur.”