Cats Review — Don’t Listen to the Sourpusses! See It and Be Dazzled

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Cats review — I don’t care what my critic colleagues say, I think it’s magical.

Cats reviewMeow! My fellow critics’ claws are out for this one, and I’m going to agree to disagree with them. The big screen version of Cats, one of the the most popular Broadway musicals of all time, may not be purrfect, but it’s lovely, wildly entertaining and sparkles with movie magic.

I’m hoping it picks up the same type of steam that The Greatest Showman did last year. It was a bust with critics, but extremely popular with moviegoers. It’s certain to revive the popularity of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s entrancing music.

Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) has created a dark and lushly lavish world in which cats cavort as they will do, and there’s no doing anything about it. The choreography is dazzling, as are the special effects. Especially intriguing are the Busby Berkeley cockroaches and mice trained by Rebel Wilson’s Jennyanydots, and the nimble tapping of Steven McRae’s Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat.

Which is not to take away from Grizabella’s (Jennifer Hudson) soul searing rendition of Memory, the big moment that so many are waiting for towards the end. Add to that a surprisingly moving turn from Ian McKellen as Gus the Theater Cat, and you more than make up for a little too much Judy Dench as Old Deuteronomy, and a gratuitous Idris Elba as a skulking Macavity.

At the heart of it all is newcomer Francesca Hayward, who plays Victoria, the graceful and charming kitten who arrives among the cats on the evening of the Jellicle Ball, and learns, along with the rest of us, what it’s like to be a Jellicle Cat and what it takes to be selected to go to the Heaviside Layer. Her balletic dancing is mesmerizing, as are her affectionate nuzzles and wondrous reactions.

Does it make sense? Who cares? Dreams seldom do. It’s a fantasy, guys! I believe Hooper has captured the trancelike quality of the T.S. Elliot poems that inspired the musical. Something for the whole family to imagine and sing along with. This time of year, in this type of cultural climate, it’s a welcome escape.

Rated PG

1 Hour 42 Minutes

If, after reading my Cats review, you’re looking to pounce on tickets, find them at

Cats review — I don’t care what my critic colleagues say, I think it’s magical.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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