CGI “Cats” leave absurd mess in your “Memory”


Observer alumnus, Daniel Williams, is contributing the review.
The summer of 2015, right after I graduated from high school, I was cast in a local Quad Cities production of “Cats.  I came to love the derided show, the incredibly catchy music, even the fact that it was a spectacle with no plot outside of cats introducing themselves until they pick one to die. 
I changed my profile picture on Facebook to one of me in my cat costume, which got me a weird reputation when starting here at Augustana, and became known as a “Cats” sympathizer in the theatre department. If anyone was going to enjoy the star-studded movie adaptation, it was going to be me.  
After seeing the movie, I would say I now have a more positive relationship with the real furry creatures that make my face feel like death. Tom Hooper, as both director and book writer, ruined the two things that make “Cats” redeemable: the spectacle and the music.
Why in the world would you cast professional ballerinas and dancers and then add horrible effects that make them float through the air as if they’re amateur Vegas magicians? Why would you cast an army of tap dancers and then turn them into CGI cockroaches that look like a mix of the soldiers from Toy Story 1 and the California raisins? 
Why would you use awful CGI to make people look like Cats and then put Dame Judi Dench in a real fur coat (did she skin another cat?) that makes all of the fake fur on her face look even more fake? Why would you give Idris Elba absolutely no pattern on his fur, which makes his character look like the offspring of a werewolf and a Ken Doll? 
All that had to be done was use some of your $95 million budget (yes really) to get some Hollywood makeup artists in and then it wouldn’t look like Jennifer Hudson’s face was half an inch off from where her face was actually supposed to be.
I should be honest and say that the original music isn’t necessarily good, itself being a weird lovechild of disco, pop and showtunes. However, it’s incredibly catchy and drives the show along. In the movie, each song stops every 30 seconds for either a dramatic pause or some horrible pun, courtesy of Rebel Wilson or James Corden. 
In the span of five minutes, Corden takes “Bustopher Jones,”  a song about him loving being fat, and then contradicts that to say he’s sensitive about his weight. Not more than 10 seconds later, he takes a good old fashioned crotch shot. You know, comedy. 
But every song suffers from this pacing. “Memory,” the crown jewel of the show, is spent zoomed in on Jennifer Hudson’s face as snot pours from her cat nose while she belts 30 seconds of it, emo-cat whispering the rest. Every song is beaten up and destroyed in this manner, with the exception of “Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat” because no one dares mess with a song about a cute cat that loves trains.  
I could go on and on about the absurdity of this movie, from the uncomfortable horniness, to Judi Dench staring the audience down for the last five minutes, to Taylor Swift drugging a room full of cat people, to Ian McKellen being fully invested into drinking water like a cat. But I wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the movie. 
I believe since I’ve seen it, they’ve released an improved CGI version, so maybe it’s a perfect movie now. Maybe not. However, with all of that being said, I completely recommend everyone go see the movie “Cats” as soon as possible. It may be a horrible movie, but it is one unique life experience that you will never escape from.