Re-watching CATS (2019), For Ships and Giggles

Over the weekend, I was scanning through my YouTube feed when this video popped up: “CATS Movie… I Have to Explain” from the channel Black Nerd Comedy. It was less a review and more a comical summary/ decent into madness of the 2019 movie Cats. Now I had already seen several scathing reviews of Cats, but this was different. As Andre explained the plot in great detail, I found myself laughing hysterically.

I’d already seen Cats last year. I even reviewed it. I was not a fan. However, at that time, I was deep into the pandemic and stressed about publishing my novel Company: A Novel of a Ghost and an Imaginary Friend, so I wasn’t really in the proper mood to watch. But last Sunday, I was feeling more relaxed. My friend Rita brought out her DVD and we re-watched it together. I’ve got to say, it was more fun the second time around.

(If you haven’t seen Cats, here’s my brief synopsis, ripped straight from last year’s review: Cats is the 2019 movie adaptation of the Broadway play of the same name, popular in the 1980s. A recently abandoned cat named Victoria finds herself in the midst of a tribe of Jellicle cats who are having their Jellicle ball. One cat will be chosen by Old Deuteronomy to ascend to the Heaviside Layer, where they will be reborn into a new life. While cats sing and dance and make their case, an evil cat named Macavity kidnaps the participants for his own nefarious purpose. Meanwhile Victoria befriends Grizabella, an old glamour cat who has been ostracized by the Jellicles and wishes for acceptance and a better life.)

Since I was mostly inoculated to the badness of Cats, I could now dive deep into the insanity. I didn’t stop analyzing what went wrong—I never stop analyzing—but my analysis reached greater depths. Plus, I found new things to giggle at. I found aspects I genuinely liked. Rita and I started to come up with weird theories and weird ships—you know, anything to fill in for the complete lack of plot.

I’m going to start with shipping. Rita, who is more a fan of Cats than I am, mentioned her theory that Victoria x Munkustrap x Mr. Mistoffelees were a polyamorous throuple. My reaction to this was a very long, “Okaaaay…”. Rita loves shipping, but this was bizarre even for her. I didn’t dismiss this theory out of hand, but I wanted proof. I decided to keep my eyes open.

(Warning: I will be summarizing the entire movie in painful detail, so there will be SPOILERS. I guess. Can a movie without a plot really be spoiled? We shall see.)

Cats begins with a human tossing a squirming bag into a trash-strewn alley, while a group of cats look on. And yeah, by now, everyone knows that these cats are uncanny valley CGI monstrosities, but whatever. I enjoy fantasy. I can handle monstrosities.

Victoria, our audience avatar, tries to process what she’s just seen.

The leader of the alley cats (but not stray cats, since most of them have collars) is a gray tabby with an intense stare. His name is Munkustrap, although the movie never actually says it, and he’s played by Robbie Fairchild, one of the few cast members who can dance, sing, and act. Munkustrap tears open the bag with his claws to reveal a white cat with a confused look on her face.

This is Victoria (Francesca Hayward), and she has just been abandoned. This should be very sad, but before she or anyone in the audience can process it, Munkustrap belts out the first line of “Jellicle Cats.” At least twenty cats join in to bombard Victoria with song and dance about what it means to be a jellicle cat, a. k. a., a cat. Victoria smiles and goes along with this nonsense, which is her character in a nutshell.

In the middle of this chorus is a black and white cat with a sparkly top hat and a penchant for falling down in the most adorable way. This is Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson), the magical cat, and he’s clearly trying to flirt with Victoria, making a little heart with his hand and aiming it at her. But there’s too much going on, and he can’t really hold her attention. I’m with Victoria here. The first time I saw this movie, I was left gaping as my brain smoked from trying to make sense of what the eff was happening onscreen. I did not see the subtle hints of the Victoria x Mistoffelees ship Cats was trying to set up.

Mr. Mistoffelees, looking all shy and trying to get Victoria to notice him.

Anyway, Victoria is desperate to make friends, so she dances alongside the cats. She even tries to sing. But the second the words “jellicle cats” leave her mouth, the cats all scatter. That bad of a singer, huh? Actually, it’s because Macavity (Idris Elba) showed up for a bit of foreshadowing. Macavity is a black cat with odd green eyes who wears a trench coat and a fedora. He’s the bad guy, and he has magic. That’s really all you need to know. Once that set-up’s done, the movie moves on to a graveyard, where Victoria is subjected to a creepy chant about the three names of a cat.

Munkustrap is the one leading this chant. It’s his first real chance to interact with Victoria, and I’ve got to say, when I see him slinking around the gravestones, my first thought is, “This guy is creepy.” Like, I honestly don’t see how Rita could ship him with Victoria. But then, as the chant peters out, Munkustrap grabs Victoria by the waist and pulls her into a surprisingly intimate moonlit dance. I mean, at one point, his face is inches from hers, his hand grazes the back of her hand. Their bodies move in harmony, he touches her face, they stare in each other’s eyes, breathing heavily. And me, I’ve read romance novels, I know the signs.

“Yeah,” I say, “that’s… that’s…. Well. That escalated quickly.”

Victoria and Munkustrap in a creepy/ intimate graveyard dance. Notice him touching her face.

From creeper to love interest in one song. Wow. So now, I can see a Victoria x Munkustrap ship going on. But I’m not yet ready to buy a polyamorous trio. Maybe it’s a love triangle, with Munkustrap and Mr. Mistoffelees both vying for the affections of Victoria. That seems more likely.

Sure enough, a jealous Mr. Mistoffelees breaks up this intimate moment, by shouting his name and singing loudly about the jellicle ball. He ends up tripping over his own feet, but at least he succeeds in getting Victoria’s attention. She smiles at him, and Munkustrap rolls his eyes.

But now Munkustrap’s got to sing about the jellicle ball and the Heaviside layer. The plot, if you want to call it that. Basically, on this one night, Old Deuteronomy will choose one cat to go to the Heaviside layer and get reborn into a new life, blah blah, blah. But all the while he’s expositing, Munkustrap holds Victoria by the waist and guides her down the street, while Mr. Mistoffelees hangs behind them, dejected. Look, I’m not saying having all three characters appear in the same shot is proof of shipping, but there is definitely a trio vibe happening. At the very least, it seems like these three are set to be our main characters.

But forget all that, because now it’s time for the big names to trot across the stage and “entertain” us with their awful singing and cringe comedy. Munkustrap leads Victoria to a house where an orange tabby cat is waiting.

“I have a gumby cat in mind,” Munkustrap croons. “Her name is Jennyanydots.”

“Liar!” Rita yells with indignation. “That is not Jennyanydots!”

And yeah, it’s really not. If you listen to the lyrics, Jennyanydots is a domestic cat who sits around all day, seemingly doing nothing, but by night she trains the household pests and keeps them well-behaved. She is a benevolent matron and a pillar of the home and of society. None of this comes across in the movie. As Munkustrap sings about Jennyanydots sitting still, Rebel Wilson, the actress who plays her, squirms and scratches and does literally anything but sit still.

Trying to convince us this is Jennyanydots. Your own lyrics contradict you!

“That’s not Jennyanydots,” I say, coming to a realization. “And Munkustrap knows it. He’s not singing about her. He’s singing about the real Jennyanydots, to taunt this imposter.”

Rita and I come up with a theory. Last year, Jennyanydots won the competition and became the “jellicle choice.” She got reincarnated into the life of her choosing. But Jennyanydots had a human family, and the human family couldn’t know she was gone, so the cats replaced her with this… creature. Munkustrap knows this Jennyanydots is an imposter and deliberately torments her by reminding her that he knew the real Jennyanydots, the real Jennyanydots was a friend of his, and you, ma’am, are no Jennyanydots.

This little theory helps ease us through what is hands-down the worst part of the flick. In quick succession, we get songs from Jennyanydots, Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo), and Bustopher Jones (James Corden), and as far as I’m concerned, none of the actors understood their character in the slightest, despite literally singing about them. It’s right there in the lyrics, people! Rita and I re-name them Fake Jennyanydots, Confused Rum Tum Tugger, and Impostofur James.

There are but two bright spots in this whole slog. First is the introduction of Grizabella, as played by Jennifer Hudson, who was once a glamour cat, but ran with Macavity and is now disgraced and ostracized from cat society. Grizabella’s misery genuinely stirred me, possibly because Jennifer Hudson can sing and act.

The other bright spot is Macavity. Macavity immediately wins our affections by poofing away Fake Jennyanydots and Impostofur James. Rita and I cheer loudly. I also laugh, when I realize that Macavity has to say his magic word as he poofs them, which is either, “ineffable” or “meow” or “Macavity.” And the way Idris Elba says it is hilarious. You have to hear it.

Macavity, you magnificent bastard. Thank you for trying to rid us of the most annoying characters in this film.

So now, Fake Jennyanydots and Impostofur James are tied up in a river barge, run by Growltiger (Ray Winstone), a kind of pirate cat. They’re out of our hair, for now, thank goodness. The sight of Macavity causes the cats to scatter, leaving poor Victoria alone. She falls into the clutches of Mungojerrie (Danny Collins) and Rumpleteazer (Naoimh Morgan), who are bad cats, though not as bad as Macavity. They break into a house, mess up a bedroom, put some jewelry on Victoria, and steal food.

Why are all the cats so obsessed with Victoria? Granted, she’s the new cat, the shiny new “plaything.” But I have a theory—now, go with me on this—that cats all have nine lives. After each life they get reincarnated, but they retain their memories. But Victoria is a completely new cat. She’s on life #1. And that’s what makes her so interesting to the other cats. Not only does she have to be introduced to cat society, she hasn’t quite developed her personality. She’s still a blank slate. And so they can influence her.

Anyway, the “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” song was what broke me the first time I watched Cats. This second viewing, wasn’t much better, mostly because Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan can’t really sing. No disrespect to them. It’s not that they were terrible; they just weren’t all that good. And they didn’t even have the support of the chorus. They speak-sing the song, and it’s listless and low-energy.

But fortunately, a dog—well, a dog’s bark—breaks up this non-party. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer hightail it away, but Victoria gets trapped when the pearl necklace she’s wearing gets caught on the bed. Her new friends ditch her, and the sound of the dog threatens from behind a door.

It’s time for Mr. Mistoffelees to get his big shipping moment! He leaps in to save Victoria, but his dashing entrance is stymied when he lands in some high heels and trips on his own feet. I swear this cat is clumsier than Bella Swan. Victoria frees herself and the two work together to close the door on the dog.

Breathing heavily, Victoria and Mr. Mistoffelees lean against the door and stare into each other’s eyes. Mr. Mistoffelees tries to confess his feelings for Victoria, by saying he’s been looking everywhere for her. Then, losing his nerve, he backpedals and says it’s because Old Deuteronomy is about to arrive. Look, I know my shipping tropes; I know them. And I probably would have registered this a lot more the first time, had I not been screaming about cats using their human hands to push a door closed on a dog.

So they meet up with Munkustrap, who gives them a stern, “Where have you been?” which, I swear, sounds jealous. Like, what he really means is, “What have you two been doing alone together?” But that could be my interpretation. He also sees a ring on Victoria’s wrist and flashes a look of disapproval, but Mr. Mistoffelees uses one of the rare lines of actual dialogue to cover for her.

Old Deuteronomy, played by Judy Dench, slowly waltzes in, wearing a fur coat and a white CGI lion’s mane, while Munkustrap sings about her very lovingly. And now the movie is taking a turn for the better, because at least Robbie Fairchild can sing and Judy Dench can act. Old Deuteronomy, who Rita and I affectionately call Judy Deuteronomy, is the jellicle leader who makes the jellicle choice, and Rita swears up and down that she’s Munkustrap’s mom. You know, I’m just going to give her this one. It explains why Munkustrap is nuzzling her.

Judy Deuteronomy, awaiting your adoration.

Rita also tells me that, according to lore, Judy Deuteronomy is the only one with access to the Heaviside Layer, and she uses said access to give herself infinite reincarnations. If so, it explains why Macavity is after her. I have a theory that if you want magic, you need to go to the Heaviside Layer, and wish for magic as part of your ideal life. So basically both Macavity and Mr. Mistoffelees were both the “jellicle choice” in previous years. Macavity already has magic, but it’s not enough. He wants to have magic to equal Judy Deuteronomy, infinite reincarnations, and this means getting to be the “jellicle choice” for a second time.

Anyway, Judy Deuteronomy decides it’s time to start the jellicle ball. And… yeah, this part is kind of uncomfortable. Everyone starts chanting and breathing heavily and making weird motions and… you know, the less I think about the metaphorical implications, the better.

The cats dance inside an old theatre, and sometimes it’s normal dancing and sometimes it’s this weird… you know what, it’s weird. I’m sitting there, covering my face with my hands, peeping through my fingers whenever I think it’s safe, and I notice that Victoria and Mr. Mistoffelees have a few nice, normal ballroom dances together. Good for them. They look cute together. So, at this point, I’m thinking, “Okay, the love triangle has resolved. It’s Victoria x Mr. Mistoffelees. Well, that was quick. Why bother with a love triangle at all?

Are these two a ship? The movie wants you to think so, but…

The dancing gets weird and finally ends with the cats all giving one last shuddering gasp before collapsing to the floor. (Not looking at the metaphors, not looking at the metaphors!) Then Victoria creeps out of the theatre and sees Grizabella all by herself, workshopping “Memory.” Even in this preview version of the song, I just appreciate that Jennifer Hudson can sing. Victoria decides to “empathize” with her, and by empathize, I mean sing the brand new song by Taylor Swift called “Beautiful Ghosts.”

Now, when I first saw Cats, I knew the song was wrong and that its placement was wrong, but dear God, I didn’t know how wrong! When you piece together the lyrics with the context of the movie, you realize that Victoria is essentially telling Grizabella, “You know, it sucks that you’re having a tough time, but, hey, at least you had a good life, once. I never had anything. So, when you think about it, my life sucks more than yours.”

The nerve! Poor Grizabella was just minding her own business, having her own private pity party, when in waltzes Victoria, the belle of the jellicle ball, trying to convince everyone that she deserves the audience’s sympathy. Honestly! And to make matters worse, poor Francesca Hayward can’t sing. I don’t mean she can’t carry a tune or that her voice is awful, but she sings like she is terrified. And not in a “the character starts off nervous and gains confidence” sort of way; no, the actress sounds genuinely scared.

I blame Tom Hooper for this mess. You’re the director; you have to know what your performers can and cannot do. If they cannot sing, don’t force them to sing! Find someone who can and dub over them. But instead, not only was everyone forced to sing, they were forced to do it live, while simultaneously dancing. It’s the same gimmick Tom Hooper used in Les Miserables, but the only reason that worked as well as it did was because he had Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman can sing, dance, and act, in movies or on stage. Hugh Jackman ain’t in this film!

Ahem.

But back to Cats

So Judy Deuteronomy brings Victoria into the theatre so that the “talent show” portion of the movie can begin. First on stage is Gus, the theatre cat, played by Ian McKellen. Now, Ian McKellan can’t sing, but at least he knows he can’t sing. He recites his song like it’s a monologue set to music. And see, this is what I mean about knowing your performer’s limits. Ian McKellen is an actor; he acts. The monologue works, and he leaves the stage with his dignity intact.

And now comes the part where Rita shushed me and told me not to make any of my snarky commentary, because she unironically enjoys this number. “Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat,” Judy Deuteronomy announces, and Munkustrap and the chorus sing brightly, while Skimbleshanks (Steven McRae) tap dances up a storm. It’s upbeat and pretty charming, actually.

This is followed by Bombalurina (Taylor Swift) singing “Macavity,” which I unironically enjoyed, because I love me a good villain song. This is also the first song that contained “plot,” since Bombalurina uses this opportunity to drug the cats with catnip, first by pouring it from a container, then by spraying it from her hanging moon chair.

But the song ends in hilarity when Macavity makes his grand entrance—naked. He had been wearing a coat and a fedora up until this point, but he ditches the coat off-screen and throws the hat into the crowd like he’s just finished a striptease. Rita speculates that Macavity was originally planning to strip during Bombalurina’s sexy song, but he immediately got tangled in his coat. “Cue the cat nip, cue the catnip!” he desperately signaled to Bombalurina, who sprayed the catnip from her moon to distract us all from the indignity of Macavity wrestling out of his clothes.

But why is he naked?

Naked Macavity is just… a wonder? …a nightmare? How can I describe it? Idris Elba looks like he’s wearing a skintight velvet bodysuit that’s partially transparent. If you look very closely, you can see red highlights in his ears and tail, which is a subtle reference to Macavity being a “ginger cat.” Movie, when you’ve got a naked Idris Elba dancing up the stairs, no one is going to notice subtle.

So Macavity tells Judy Deuteronomy to make him the jellicle choice. She refuses, and he poofs her away to the boat, where he’s keeping all the cats he kidnapped: Fake Jennyanydots, Impostofur James, Gus, and Skimbleshanks. He tries to make Judy Deuteronomy walk the plank, because why not? Once you have a pirate cat, someone just has to walk the plank.

Back at the theatre, the jellicle cats are coming out of their cat nip daze, and Munkustrap is particularly distressed to see that Judy Deuteronomy has been poofed away. No one knows how to get her back, but Victoria suggests that Mr. Mistoffelees, who has been doing magic tricks this whole time, might be able to magic her back. Mr. Mistoffelees gets nervous, but Munkustrap is onboard. He puts Mr. Mistoffelees onto the stage and gets him a spotlight and a drumroll.

Munkustrap puts his arm around Mr. Mistoffelees in a friendly way and sings his praises to the other cats. Mr. Mistoffelees looks like he wants to die. He tries to chicken out, but Munkustrap catches him—kind of across the waist—and they both freeze. For a second, it looks like they’re locked in an embrace.

“Huh?” I say, leaning in. “Okay, I can kind of see how you would think…”

Munkustrap turns Mr. Mistoffelees around, locks eyes with him, touches his face, and sings endearingly about how clever Mr. Mistoffelees is.

I jerk upright. “There it is. Yeah, I see it now.”

Now I see the Munkustrap x Mr. Mistoffelees ship.

And I know you could say that this is all subtext, but I’m telling you, this movie doesn’t have text. If you listen to the lyrics of “Magical Mr. Mistoffelees,” it’s basically a description of a cat who does magic tricks. That’s it. And yet this same song acts as the climax for the whole damn movie. Here, Mr. Mistoffelees has to find the confidence to unlock his magic in order to save the leader, gain the respect of the community, and win the girl’s heart. (Wait, was he the protagonist this entire time?) And since there’s no story or dialogue or director to back him up, Laurie Davidson has to convey all this through acting alone.

And, to his credit, he does. But even as Victoria gives him endearing looks and sings to him encouragingly, right there, hovering in the background, is Munkustrap. And now I’m starting to question if I saw the whole love triangle wrong. Was Mr. Mistoffelees the center of it this entire time? When Munkustrap sounded jealous at the prospect Mr. Mistoffelees and Victoria being alone together, was he jealous because he wanted Victoria or because he wanted Mr. Mistoffelees… or both? I’m just so confused.

But at this point, Mr. Mistoffelees succeeds in bringing back Judy Deuteronomy. Brimming with confidence, he “goes full Harry Potter,” as Andre puts it and launches through the air while cards shoot behind him like confetti bombs. I briefly stop my romantic speculation to laugh.

You’d think that Mr. Mistoffelees could use his magic to get the other kidnapped cats back, but no, Cats has to have its Avengers moment. You see, this is the part where our ragtag bunch of heroes use their different skills to take down the villain. Well, not the villain. Macavity teleports away, so Fake Jennyanydots, Impostofur Jones, Gus, and Skimbleshanks get to take down… Growltiger?

Really? Growltiger? No offense, but he looks pretty old. I’m pretty sure that Gus could take him, and Gus spent half his song complaining about how fragile he is. But sure, combine your skills. And what are they? Peeling off your skin, spitting hairballs, tap dancing, and acting?

Wait, seriously?

The first time I watched Cats, I blocked out most of this scene. Once I realized that Rebel Wilson stripping off her cat fur to reveal a purple outfit under more fur was a plot point, my brain broke. I was done. I was off to scream into my pillow, and so I missed the continued stupidity of James Corden spitting a hairball at Growltiger, Skimbleshanks tap dancing Growltiger across the plank, and Gus using acting to scare Growltiger off the boat.

But, anyway, back to the theatre. Victoria ditches Mr. Mistoffolees as soon as his song is over in order to find Grizabella. Why? Because it was in the play, that’s why. Victoria brings Grizabella to Judy Deuteronomy, so that Jennifer Hudson can sing “Memory” and try to single-handedly save Cats using the sheer force of her talent. But the pressure is too much. Grizabella collapses to the ground.

It’s all up to you, Grizabella. Do your best to redeem this movie.

Victoria realizes it’s all up to her. She starts to sing “Memory.” At the sound of her weak, squeaky voice, Grizabella rises like a ghost from the grave. She gives Victoria a horrified stare, like, “Oh, no, I am not going to let you ruin my song.” And then she belts it. Jennifer Hudson channels all the pain and indignity of being a CGI cat into this one perfect note, and the roof shakes. It is glorious! I mean, it can’t save the movie, but it is glorious!

Jennifer Hudson wins the talent show, so they stick Grizabella in a chandelier, which then turns into a hot air balloon and ascends through a convenient hole in the roof. Macavity pops in to try to hitch a ride up to heaven, but like “Pig the Elf” (four-year-olds will get that reference), he falls off and lands on top of a building. He tries to poof away, but his magic powers have left him.

Why have his powers vanished? Is it because it’s morning? Do a cat’s magical powers only work at night? Do they only work on the one night of the jellicle ball? Mr. Mistoffelees isn’t using his magic anymore; maybe his powers have gone away, too. Maybe that’s why it took him the whole movie to learn how to use them; he only gets this one night a year to practice. See, I have a theory that Mr. Mistoffelees gained his powers when he was reincarnated, but it’s only his second life, and so he’s not quite used to—

But nevermind that. This is it! The funniest scene of the movie.

Okay, so the first time I watched Cats, I was in a bad mood to start and it just got worse and worse, until I was beating my head into my pillow, waiting for it to end. But in that last scene—I lost it entirely. I broke down and convulsed into hysterical giggles for five minutes straight.

As the chandelier hot air balloon takes Grizabella into the morning sky, the cats gather at the base of a lion statue—except for Judy Deuteronomy, Victoria, Munkustrap, and Mr. Mistoffelees, who sit on the lion’s head. And I gotta say, Munkustrap, Victoria, and Mr. Mistoffelees are starting to look very cozy together. Like they’re a trio. A romantic trio, perhaps?

Anyway, Judy Deuteronomy is staring up at the balloon with great gravitas—as great as one can have while sporting a white CGI mane—when suddenly she turns right into the camera and starts reciting a poem directly to you, the audience, sitting at home.

Judy Deuteronomy sees you out there.

Now, in the play, the cats had always addressed the human audience. But for this movie, director Tom Hooper and whatever writer cut-and-pasted this script together decided that this conceit would be too weird. Instead, the cats explain everything to Victoria, the audience avatar. And this worked—more or less—right up until the last song, which boils down to, “And now that you have learned about cats, dear humans, let me tell you how to address and befriend a cat.” Since telling this to Victoria made absolutely no sense, the director just went, “Well, screw it,” and had Judy Dench break the fourth wall.

But Judy Dench isn’t alone onscreen. Standing just behind her is our will-they-won’t-they trio. However, Victoria, Munkustrap, and Mr. Mistoffelees can’t see the audience, so they have nothing to do but stare at Judy Deuteronomy. And their expressions! That’s what kills me. Victoria rolls with it, Mr. Mistoffelees looks confused, but Munkustrap wears this look of increasing concern and horror. To summarize:

Munkustrap: “Mommy? Are you all right? Mommy?”

Mr. Mistoffelees: “Oh, God, what did I do? Is this because of my magic? Did I mess up her brain when I teleported her back?”

Munkustrap: “No, no. This isn’t you. I think her medications have worn off.”

Victoria: “Wait, so this isn’t a normal thing?”

Munkustrap: “No! This is weird even for us.”

Mr. Mistoffolees: “What do we do?”

Munkustrap: “Just humor her for now. I’ll get her back to her cage soon, and then everything will be fine.”

Rita and I were actually saying this dialogue out loud, between fits of laughter. The poem stretches out for like five minutes, and I could barely catch a word of it, I was laughing so hard. Every now and then, the choir of cats repeats one of Judy Deuteronomy’s lines for emphasis. Except, these lines are, “A cat is not a dog” and “Oh, cat.” They sing these lyrics like they’re full of portent and meaning, and then the camera flashes back to the horrified look on Munkustrap’s face….

So the song finally ends, and the cat chorus scatters. Victoria and Mr. Mistoffelees nuzzle heads affectionately, and I take a moment to once again ponder the notion of the polyamorous trio. Right now, the only evidence I see is them standing together, and is that really enough? Yeah, clearly, Munkustrap was hitting on both Victoria and Mr. Mistoffelees, but was his affection ever returned? I see no evidence—

And at that moment, Mr. Mistoffeles stops nuzzling Victoria and looks directly at Munkustrap. Munkustrap stares back, a mischievous grin on his face. Wordlessly, Mr. Mistoffelees and Munkustrap jump off the lion’s head at the same time, completely ditching Victoria. I just sit there, my mouth hanging open.

“I… I can’t unsee this,” I say out loud. “I can’t unsee this.”

Truly, the slogan of Cats.

As the two male cats run off to do… whatever… Judy Deuteronomy tells Victoria that she is a jellicle cat, which means a “dear little cat,” and the movie ends.

I am just in shock that I now completely buy the notion that these cat-human hybrids are a polyamorous threesome and that, if I’m honest, it is one of the most normal things I’ve seen in this whole movie. As I ponder all the twists and turns of how this throuple came into being, I realize it is still a more coherent and compelling story than what is supposed to be the plot of Cats.

So, to sum up the movie. There are good things about Cats, and when you find them, you cling to them for all they’re worth, and when that’s not enough, you start coming up with crazy conspiracy theories to desperately make sense of what you are watching. And then you get attached to your bizarre theories and weirdly start liking the movie. Also, when you hit just the right blend of committed performances and utter ridiculousness, Cats becomes hilarious. Honestly, there are few movies that can make me laugh for five minutes straight. And if something brings you that much joy, why not embrace it?

One thought on “Re-watching CATS (2019), For Ships and Giggles

  1. I’m Rita from the review and I’m here to say this review tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I approve of this accurate portrayal of events during our exploration of the Cats 2019 movie.

    Like

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