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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Cats’ on HBO, a Musical That Might Drive You to Madness

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Cats’ on HBO, a Musical That Might Drive You to Madness

Cats is on HBO finally and at a very peculiar timing. As the divisive politics and the endless coronavirus pandemic has poisoned our brains, we are clamoring for a couple of hours of escape, and that is when this movie has come across.

Cats is Tom Hooper’s adaptation of an already divisive Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. We are confused as to will watching this gives us the much-needed distraction or leads to further damage to our mental health. While we do not have a definite answer to this, here is a review of Cats. 

CATS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: there is confusion within the first few seconds of opening. It all starts in London; where a car pulls into an alley, and the driver tosses a writhing bag onto the cobblestone. Some grotesque cat-human kind of hybrid creatures descend upon the bag and what we see inside is one of their own horror species.

This is where we would say that the cat is out of the bag; although we don’t intend to write any despicable cat puns in this review. 

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The new arrival of the cat to this world is named as Victoria (Francesca Hayward), and the other cat-things sing their exposition: they are Jellicle cats, and you are now a Jellicle too, and we’re on our way to the Jellicle Ball, where Jellicles sing and dance in a competition whose winner will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reincarnated as what, I don’t know, but I presume it would be something that doesn’t look like the Beelzebubian marriage of CG effects and really, really bad ideas.

The cats’ song repeats the word Jellicle at least 700 times, but there is no explanation as to what a Jellicle is. The movie goes with the motive of ‘Just Go With It’. The movie insists on this motto as there are elaborately busy visuals just when the movie begins. You won’t find a place to focus your eyes when the movie starts.

The film does not seem to has a pause, no mercy as there is a continuous slothy trudge to the Jellicle Ball; introducing a series of characters who will compete among themselves.

The characters are played by stars for whom we should all weep: Judi Dench as the Jellicle queen Old Deuteronomy, Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tigger, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots the Gumbie Cat and, eventually, two-thirds into the movie, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina. 

The movie has a villain too; Macavity the Mystery Cat, a teleporting cat. The cat plans to kidnap the other cats so he can eliminate the competition. The character is played by Idris Elba. The world will not have enough hankies to quell the tears that you shed while watching the movie. 

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That is all about the movie, the plot of the movie. The only reason it deserves more than its share of typed characters is Cats‘ insistence on bombarding us with multisyllabic proper nouns in pursuit of an elusive ethereal whimsy. The primary question the film poses isn’t which cat will ascend to a place beyond this cluttered hell, but whether we’ll have the psychological capital to make it all the way to the end. 

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