Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Cats * A Musical Fantasy With Outstanding Performances and Choreography

Cats is a 2019 musical fantasy film based on the stage musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which in turn was based on the poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T. S. Eliot. The film is directed by Tom Hooper—in his second feature musical following Les Misérables (2012)—from a screenplay by Lee Hall and Hooper and features an ensemble cast, including James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and introduces ballerina Francesca Hayward in her first feature-length film role. The storyline follow a tribe of cats called the Jellicles that must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ivey H. comments, “This film is a “claw-ful fantasy tail” about a tribe of misfits called Jellicle cats. Directed by Tom Hooper, this live-action movie version of the musical Cats tells the story of alley cats that seem to be competing for another kind of afterlife.” Jordan M. adds, “Although it is hard at times to sympathize with the characters, we get to see a more endearing side of them as the movie progresses. From the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson), an aspiring magician, to Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), an outcast who seeks acceptance, you can easily see that some of the cats in the film spark emotion. There are also some amazing vocals in the film such as Jennifer Hudson’s “Memory” and Taylor Swift’s “Macavity: The Mystery Cat”. Morgan B. wraps it up with, “Everyone get ready to transported to a world where cats rule, dogs drool, and humans are nowhere to be found. The actors are intriguing to watch, because you forget they are human. Their personification of individual cat traits and personalities keeps you glued to the screen. It is fun to watch our favorite stars such as Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and Jennifer Hudson behaving as if they are cats.” See their full reviews below.

Cats
By Ivey H., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

This film is a “claw-ful fantasy tail” about a tribe of misfits called Jellicle cats. Directed by Tom Hooper, this live-action movie version of the musical Cats tells the story of alley cats that seem to be competing for another kind of afterlife.

The story starts in a big city setting with a sad thing that happens to many helpless animals:  A young beautiful cat is abandoned by its owner in a dark alley. Soon she makes “fur-ends” with other cats of all shapes, colors and sizes. All the cats have their own unique personalities. Cats shows the “paw-some” nature of the cats, including the playful, sneaky and mischievous personalities of these human-like creatures. There are a few crazy cat characters, which were my most favorite to watch. They are in a competition for a better life and that is when the cat fight starts. Who will be the next chosen one?

The lead role is Victoria (Francesca Hayward), the abandoned kitty. Taylor Swift also makes an appearance as Bombalurina. Another of my favorites in this film is Bustopher Jones (James Corden). I really like this healthy cat and his funny scenes.  My favorite of all is Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson). She is so “hiss-terical” in this role.   I love the entire scene from the dancing mice and the army of coachroaches. The scenery colors are really electric, and I like how the set is realistically sized to the scale of the cats. The choreography and costumes are also very intriguing.

The Cats storyline is a little hard to follow, because there is more singing than dialogue. However, the overall meaning comes through, which is about finding your way in a big city, making friends, learning who to trust and letting the right people get what they truly deserve, and being honorable. There is no bad language, and it is very suitable for kids.

I give Cats 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages8 to 18. It opened in theaters December 20, 2019 so be sure to check it out.

Cats
By Jordan M., KIDS First! Film Critic, Age 13

Cats, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, was one of the longest running Broadway musicals of all time. Now, with the help of director Tom Hooper, Cats has been adapted for the big screen, making the new movie a unique blend of both a musical and a major motion picture. Cats is filled with intriguing characters, dances and songs that are incredibly memorable.

The story begins in a mysterious alleyway when a car drops off a new, innocent yet unwanted cat named Victoria (Francesca Hayward). It is there that she stumbles upon a tribe of stray animals known as the Jellicle Cats. Once a year, the cats gather for their annual Jellicle ball, where they audition to be chosen by the wise leader Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) to go to the “Heavyside Layer”, a place that will provide them with the new and better life that each one can only dream of. As they prepare for the life-changing event, Victoria encounters each of the cats that hope to win, such as the hilarious Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson) and gluttonous Bustopher Jones (James Corden). Meanwhile, the evil Macavity (Idris Elba) and his partner in crime Bombalurina (Taylor Swift) will do anything to win, even if it means eliminating the competition.

From the beginning, the plot feels rushed and that it needed to be developed more. During the film, the characters constantly switch from different sets and have sudden outburts of singing and dancing. While these aspects may have worked well on Broadway, it makes some of the scenes feel awkward on the big screen. Because of the rushed plot and lack of dialogue, it is not only difficult to follow what is happening in the movie, but also to sympathize and get to know the characters of Cats and their struggles. Audience members are not given enough time to really take everything in, making the movie a bit overwhelming at certain times. Also, the CGI that was used makes everyone seem to be a strange combination of both human and feline. Depending on the actor or actress, the CGI is either very distracting or more on the subtle side. 

In spite of this, everything still feels very whimsical and as though you are being whisked away into the magical world that the Jellicle Cats are a part of. The sets for every scene are each incredibly giant, detailed and unique, adding to the fanciful and imaginative feelng. Although it is hard at times to sympathize with the characters, we get to see a more endearing side of them as the movie progresses. From the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson), an aspiring magician, to Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), an outcast who seeks acceptance, you can easily see that some of the cats in the film spark emotion. There are also some amazing vocals in the film such as Jennifer Hudson’s “Memory” and Taylor Swift’s “Macavity: The Mystery Cat”.

Overall, while there are some confusing scenes, it is balanced with comedy, singing and dancing. The film also shows the important lesson of learning to accept and be kind towards others, especially cats. 

I rate Cats 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18 as well as adults. You can see Cats in theaters on Friday, December 20, 2019. 

Cats
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Everyone get ready to transported to a world where cats rule, dogs drool, and humans are nowhere to be found. The actors are intriguing to watch, because you forget they are human. Their personification of individual cat traits and personalities keeps you glued to the screen. It is fun to watch our favorite stars such as Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and Jennifer Hudson behaving as if they are cats.

Victoria (Francesca Hayward) is a gorgeous dancer and singer. I have never seen a more  graceful cat than her. When her journey begins it seems that she is a very scared young kitten, but as time goes on she grows to be a very graceful cat who knows what to do. Since she is such a great singer, she is my favorite character.

Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) is the most magical cat I ever seen and he always has trick up his sleeve. Plus, he is too gosh darn cute to ignore.

The song Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat by Andrew Lloyd Webber is magnificent and too cute to ignore. The cinematography is magnificent and the dancing is outstanding. One of the best moments in Cats is the song sung when Skimbleshanks is tap dancing and turns the whole stage into a railway station.

The graphics are eye candy. Everywhere you look there is something or someone to look at. One time, it’s a giant bed the size of three people, another time it’s a building in the background, or it might even be the cats themselves. No matter where you look your eyes are never bored and there is always a fun graphic or two or three.

The dancers are stupendous. When they are dancing they act like cats. When performing simple moves they have to land or do the move in a whole new different way. Plus all time they are standing like cats and walking on all fours.

The songs from Cats are all now going onto my fave playlist because they all are so good. Each song is sung by different artist, so we get a glimpse of many different art forms while watching the film. We also see the characters having fun and being themselves.

Cats is based on the award-winning Broadway play and book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  It is definitely a must see for 2019. People who love song and dance and are animal fans will find it a fascinating and magical experience.

I give Cats 5 out 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18 years. Cats comes out in theater nationwide on December 20, 2019 so get tickets right meow.

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