I Watched Cats So You Won’t Have To

I’ve done a lot of screwy stuff in the name of providing (alleged) entertainment on this site. I’ve asked celebrities to thank me for giving them herpes, asked a rock band to make me a Reuben sandwich, and just recently I have undertaken the learning of a useless language. But I have gone above and beyond this time. Honestly, you should start saving up your money and sexual favors now, because when you find out what I did, you’ll surely want to shower me with both. I sat through an entire showing of the Cats movie.

Ok, for those of you who, like me, are less than informed about Broadway’s goings on, here is a quick recap:

In 1981, noted composer and drug enthusiast Andrew Lloyd Weber sat down to read T.S. Eliot’s poem “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” while tripping balls on jimson weed and mothball extract. The result was lifelong dementia and the musical Cats, which went on to become the 4th longest running show on Broadway despite the very real handicap of having a plot entirely written by two year olds.

I’m not shitting you, if I taught a class entitled, “Introductory Creative Writing for Absolute Beginners”, and one of my students handed in the plot from Cats, not only would that student receive an F, but I’m pretty sure that I’d be forced to keelhaul him on general principles alone.

Although the US Education System lags behind countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, we’re still number one in keelhauling!

Here’s the plot: Someone with intelligence and taste, having seen Cats already, has instituted a feline death lottery. In order to “win” the lottery, you have to have a stupid fucking name, and a stupid fucking song-and-dance about said name. After everyone and their grandmother cat has sang their song, the oldest cat gets to choose which cat is the biggest pain in the balls and have them offed by sending them to a place called the Heaviside Layer, which one hopes is nothing more than a mass grave behind the local Chinese eatery.

That’s it! 90% of Cats is cats singing their names, the other 10% is cats singing about which cat is going to die.

Producing a movie that inherits this plot is like sending a toddler to the plate in a Major League Baseball game armed only with a kazoo. One can only imagine how director Tom Hooper wound up with the odious task of directing Cats.

Studio Mogul: Honey, I’m home! (walks into bedroom)

Mogul’s Wife: This isn’t what it looks like!

Studio Mogul: Really? Because to me, it looks like you’re fucking Tom Hooper.

Tom Hooper: Hey, Skippy, do me a solid and toss me some anal lube, would you?

Studio Mogul: (on phone) Hey, it’s me. I found a director for Cats.

Listing all of the problems with the Cats movie is a Sisyphean task of staggering proportions and to be honest, the team of psychoanalysts assigned to me by the movie theater after the showing has told me that revisiting the movie in such a way could render my brain unsuitable for productive work and doom me to a future as a United States Senator. (This is exactly how we wound up with Mitch McConnell.)

Mitch McConnell: Moviegoer one minute, extra-jowly spokes-stooge the next.

But PTSD be damned, if I can prevent one person from going to see Cats, it will have been worth it. I’m not sure I really believe that, but here are the things that kept Cats from being suitable for consumption by sentient beings:


CGI stands for Computer Generated Imagery, so it’s more accurate to refer to the post-production processing of Cats as CGNF, or Computer Generated Nightmare Fuel. If your own children, high on crack and getting ready for Halloween, wound up looking anything like the protagonists in Cats, you wouldn’t have to worry about their Trick or Treating safety because you’d be too busy stuffing them into a burlap sack for proper disposal in the nearest river or open sewage trench.

The CGI, in fact, was so bad that Universal rushed a new print to theaters correcting some of the more egregious CGI flaws. This, I feel, is cheating, and it caused me to shell out hard earned dough to see Cats in the theater before they could “fix” it. I should have stayed home to shave my crotch with a cheese grater instead.

Actually, the CGI isn’t that bad on first glance. Yes, everyone looks like they’ve had their ears removed and been given a set of cozy kitty PJ’s for their trouble. But, as unsettling as that is, your brain gets used to that pretty quickly. As soon as your eye drifts away from the normal focus of the scene, however, you discover some crazy shit. Like cat dancers that look like their limbs are not attached to their body; or the fact that everyone appears to be walking 6 inches above the ground; or that the scale has been oddly changed so that what looked like an ugly house cat now looks like a deranged furry.

Pictured: A deranged furry

In general, the border of any given scene or character shifts from odd to scary, back to odd, and straight into terrifying often times happening before you can even tell what it is that you’re looking at. I noticed that the characters’ arms became very disturbing once I noticed their tendency to spontaneously grow and shed hair on their wrists.

The Acting

I can’t really tell you if the acting is any good in Cats, for the same reason that you can’t tell police the eye color of the random person that spin-kicked you in the nuts on the subway: You had your mind on other things. But what I can tell you is that if you’re going to see the Cats movie, you’re going to get 110 minutes of this:

She looks like this in Every. Fucking. Scene.

You know how there are some optical illusions that require you to stare at something for a long time, then you look elsewhere and you can see the negative image of the thing that you were staring at? I spent the better part of a week seeing the negative image of that fucking cat, Victoria.

“Ol’ Doot”

There is a character in Cats named Old Deuteronomy, which is the kind of name that you give Scotch, not your cat, but whatever. People name their cats all kinds of silly shit (I had a cat in college named “Dog”, for example). But where I draw the line is when people start making up nicknames based on these asinine names.

So it was that when one of the cats referred to Old Deuteronomy as “Ol’ Doot”, that I made my first audible noise of the showing, a loud and passionate, “Ol’ Doot? Fucking kill me now.”

Here’s how you can tell how bad Cats is. In a normal movie, when you utter something out loud like that, you generally get shushed because people want to hear what is being said. In Cats, other audience members try to draw you out, to expand upon that thought so that they would be spared the next loosely cat-themed atrocity.

Me: Ol’ Doot? Fucking kill me now…

Audience Member: Yes, but how?

 Another Audience Member: Wouldn’t sedation be preferable?

Yet Another Audience member: Yes, please, let’s discuss this in great detail.

Usher: Excuse me, but this is the Cats movie. Can you all, you know, talk a lot more?

Pictured: Ol’ Doot/elderly abuse

That Midnight Song

If there’s one thing that your average, beer-swilling, expletive-spewing Joe knows about Cats, it’s that it has a song that starts, “Midniiiiiiiiiiiiiight!” As of this moment right now, I still have no idea what comes after that word in the song. I know that David Letterman used to joke around and sing, “Midnight, and the kitties are sleeping!” but other than that, I have no idea what the song is about.

(I look up the lyrics)

Gah, what trash. I should know at least some of the lyrics, or at least the point of the song, but when it pops up in the movie it’s sung with such overwrought sadness that the entire thing sounds like this:

Touch meeeeeeee!

Mister Mistoffelees

There’s a black and white cat in Cats, named Mr. Mistoffelees, a name so awful that we ought to dig up and reanimate T.S. Eliot specifically for the purpose of running him over with a bus. This cat is a magician, which we know because he has a top hat. And the only time that they need something magical to happen, fuckwad over here has no idea what to do, and spends 5 minutes proving it. There’s a simply revolting song that goes along with this:

Chorus: Oh, well I never, was there ever a cat so clever as magical Mr. Mistoffelees.

Mr. Mistoffelees: (magic fail)

Chorus: Oh, well I never, was there ever a cat so clever as magical Mr. Mistoffelees.

Mr. Mistoffelees: (magic fail again)

Chorus: Oh, well I never, was there ever a cat so clever as magical Mr. Mistoffelees.

Mr. Mistoffelees: (magic fail so bad that other characters start looking under seat cushions to see if maybe the magically summoned thing appeared there) [Seriously, this really happens – Greg]

…and on and on and on. Mr. Mistoffelees is supposed to be summoning someone (spoiler alert: It’s Ol’ Doot!), but they never show up. Finally, Ol’ Doot just fucking walks over there and pretends to have been summoned to spare Mr. Mistoffelees’ pride, I guess. Fuck that, if I was running the show, Mr. Mistoffelees would have won the Kitty Kill Me Now contest right fucking then and there. “What’s that? You’re an adorable magician that doesn’t know how to do any fucking magic? Yeah, we have 2nd grade assemblies for that, asshat.”


The Thought That Anyone Actually Enjoys Cats Let Alone Tolerates It

Throughout the whole showing, I kept thinking one thing to myself: “Why, God, why?” Ok, two things: “Why, God, why?”, and “How does anyone like this steaming pile of bovine excrement?”, questions that both haunt me to this day.

Have you ever listened to a song that you couldn’t stand, then listened to it in a different format to see if it would be any better? Of course not. Nickelback sounds just as shitty on CD as they do on DVD, as they do on cassette, LP, 8-track, wax cylinder, etc.

And this, more than anything else, puzzled me throughout. Everyone agreed that the plot was accurate, so how could something so popular in one format be so horrible in another? For the life of me, without adding external things such as personalized blowjobs for the audience members, I can’t come up with a single thing that would make this any better on the stage than it was in the movie theater.

So how in the fuck was Cats so popular on Broadway? It’s one of those things so inexplicable that you suspect a prank, or barring that, some truly legendary trolling.

Universal Exec: I have an idea. Let’s bankroll a horrible Broadway production of a musical about cats. We’ll sell tickets, but will buy all of the empty seats so that everyone will think that it sells out all the time and must be wonderful. 40 years later, we’ll release the film version of it, and then everyone will hate it and be confused as hell. BUWAHAHAHA!!!

Speakerphone: Satan? Mel Gibson is holding on line two.

The Verdict

If you constructed a large conveyor belt that ran from the maternity ward of every hospital to a large pit filled with rabid wolverines and fire, then passed a law requiring that all newborns be placed on this conveyor belt (this is actually Senate bill S.2529, the Let’s Kill All the Babies Act), this atrocity would only be 10% as bad as a single viewing of Cats, which I give 0 stars out of a possible why-the-fuck-did-I-watch-this-movie.