Cats

Cats ★★★★

I've been a "Cats" fan since I was about 12, and I've seen it on stage and a previous filmed version of it. I heard a lot of bad things about it, but then my mother told me she loved it, so I decided to give it a try. And I actually kind of liked it.
So, first off, the visual effects--I heard they had rushed out a fix after the initial release, so maybe that's part of the problem. I barely had any problem with them, though I had to be willing to accept that, for instance, sometimes the cats had shoes, and they were mostly standing upright, but that's just the way they were doing it.
I was always aware of the changes (at least from the original London version that I've listened to for years), and for the most part I didn't mind them. Your standard Lloyd Webber musical does not have any dialogue outside of the song, but I didn't begrudge any that they added here. (Except maybe the bits where Rebel Wilson and James Corden were just making jokes, because I don't think all of those landed.)
I liked the Victoria character and how she came as an outsider, eventually bonded with Mistoffolees and felt deeply for Grizabella and found her acceptance in the community, and her new song (one of the new "added-for-the-movie" musical songs I actually liked, for which I feel like I can thank Taylor Swift). Swift's performance was great too, of course.
And they earned a lot of points by using the original version of "Mungojerrie & Rumpelteazer" rather than the horrible version they used later.
Quibbles: Why could Macavity teleport? What the heck? Did he go to Hogwarts and learn to Apparate?
Judi Dench is a lovely person, but she really couldn't sing that well. I'm reminded of Glynis Johns from "A Little Night Music", who also couldn't sing; Dench, at least, has the excuse of having potentially lost some of her singing voice through age, but I did miss having a Deuteronomy who could sing. (Female Deuteronomy? Fine, fine.)
Jennifer Hudson I know can sing, but I really was not a big fan of the way she was singing "Memory" in overwrought sobs. Clearly she wasn't trying to be Barbra Streisand or Elaine Paige, but I would have excused her for having a voice too good for her character background in this case.
And finally, why was Taylor Swift's character Bombalurina? I don't have a big handle on the characters of all the ones who don't get their own songs and just get names from "The Naming of Cats", like Munkustrap (who was great, btw), Coricopat, Plato, Demeter, etc., but...if we're going to have her sing as an ally of Macavity, why not just use Griddlebone? It's right there, mentioned in the song and everything, and since "Growltiger's Last Stand" has been retired she doesn't even have an appearance elsewhere. Yes, I know, super minor quibble.
So any, people, ease off this one. It really does not deserve a lot of the trashing it's gotten.

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