Cats: A Waste of One of Your Nine Lives?

Kadin Wetherholt and Megan Donovon

Cats— one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history– has certainly lived its nine lives. It was initially created in an assemblage of poetry by T.S. Elliot in 1939 known as Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. In 1980, Andrew Lloyd Webber composed an iconic Broadway production of the tale, simply known as Cats. Years after the musical’s debut, it continued bringing in millions as well as becoming beloved to many. Forty years later, Universal Pictures took on a challenge, making an on-screen adaptation. However, it has ultimately fallen flat both critically and financially. 


Universal Studios biggest cat-tastrophe occurred when Cats, the live action movie, was released in theaters on Christmas Day. The debut was at the end of the year, securing its place as one of the most notable flops of 2019. After failure in the United States, all of its hope was on the foriegn box office. However, this only brought roughly 38.9 million dollars. Cats is currently standing at a loss of about 70 million dollars; quite poor compared to the budget of a whopping 90 million dollars. 


Unfortunately for the filmmakers, Cats was as critically unsuccessful as it was economically. The well-known critic website Rotten Tomatoes gave a score of 20%, on a scale of 100. Many voiced their reviews with a sense of comedy, seemingly puzzled by what they viewed. Christy Lemire, a top critic for FilmWeek, wrote, “It’s just baffling and yet it must be seen… it’s bad, but you’ve got to experience it.” While many disregard professional reviews in favor of those made by fellow audience members, those too were abysmal. Google shows that only 28% of users enjoyed this movie. 


Hayley Winkler, a Junior at Oakdale, gives her harsh opinion on the musical:  “I only saw Cats the musical, I haven’t really seen the movie, but, I hated it. It was absolute trash, it was so bad. It just didn’t make any sense.” 


The original screenplay didn’t have any discernible plot, leaving many audience members –like Winkler — lost for most of the musical. The movie took a risky decision in attempting to incorporate a subtle plot, yet this proved unsuccessful.


Winkler continues and explains that everyone should witness this piece of crucifying art: “So they know to never ever create something as atrocious as Cats.” The only thing that appealed to her was the unique costumes that each character wore. 


Jacy Duffy, another Oakdale Junior, had seen the musical with her mother: “I really like the musical but it is really hard to follow along with. But it is good; the characters, the costumes, and the choreography are all just fantastic.”  


Duffy explains that it is her mother’s favorite musical, yet she would rather opt out from seeing the film adaptation. She continues, “I absolutely would not watch the movie, it looks so bad. From what I saw, it’s not even accurate to the musical. I just would not watch it.”


Duffy expands on how she believes there is no plot to follow in either version, “Each cat just comes out and sings a song to introduce themselves. Then at the end, they pick a winner. So basically, there’s no real plot.” 


Overall, everyone appears to have quite strong opinions on this film, whether good or bad. Undoubtedly, the release of Cats will certainly not be forgotten by cinema lovers, or perhaps anyone. For those remaining curious about this movie, Cats is released on DVD April 7.