'CATS' Reviews Are In, and They Are Gleefully Terrible

'CATS' is exactly the mess it seemed to be from the trailers. The reviews are so brutal, but so good.

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Dec. 19 2019, Updated 2:01 p.m. ET

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Source: Universal Pictures

I can't tell you how vindicated I felt when the CATS reviews started pouring in and they were, pretty much without exception, so, so bad. The teaser and the trailers were viral news alone for the creepy "digital fur technology" used to fuse the cats with the human bodies of the actors. I was so worried that when the embargo was lifted, we'd see a lot of reviews like, "Actually, once you get past the cats with human boobs, it's a nice story." 

But that's not what's happening at all. The claws are officially out, and reviewers have been tearing the movie to shreds. The words that have been used to describe CATS are *chef's kiss* brutal. Here are some of the stand-out reviews and tweets going in on the biggest movie disaster in a while. You just love to see it.

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"Mesmerizing ugly fiasco"

The Telegraph, where Robbie works, ended up running a fairly unprecedented zero-star review of the movie (written by someone else) that calls the movie "a sinister, all-time disaster from which no one emerges unscathed." Me-owch.

"As bad as it looks"

The reviews from all corners of the internet are relentless and I love it. I hope that my third eye never opens because I honestly don't think I'd be able to handle it. 

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"Purr-fectly dreadful hairball of woe"

We simply have to take a closer look at Peter Bradshaw's review for The Guardian because he wrote it in CATS-style rhyming verse. It contains lines like, "The setting is London, it does look post-nuclear / There aren’t any people, so maybe there were / Bomb blasts – or maybe a bio disaster / Causing cat-human mutants with digital fur." This movie has legit made people lose their minds.

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"Poorly conceived and executed"

This Variety review, among other things, confirms one of our fears from the trailer: that the scale of the creatures in CATS is wildly inconsistent throughout the movie. There are also cockroaches and mice with human faces. Once I stop screaming, I'll continue with this round-up. 

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"Nightmare fuel"

So many people are writing about how they wish they could erase CATS from their memory, which is hilarious because the biggest, most unforgettable song from the show and movie is literally called, "Memory." It's safe to say this horror show is something that we will never ever forget.

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"Congratulations to dogs"

At the time of my writing this article, CATS has a 15 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is truly incredible, and I have to say, a little shocking. I can't really believe there is such a total consensus about what a hot mess it is, but I'm so happy about it. I can't stop smiling. 

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"Wasn't even sure what a real cat looked like anymore"

This is a little bit actually terrifying. The fact that CATS gets into your brain in less than two hours and eats away at it to the point where you don't even remember what the real animals look like anymore is frightening. And yet, somehow, this kind of, a teeny tiny little eensy-beensy itty-bitty bit, makes me want to see the movie. I'm not going to, though, at least not with my glasses on. 

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"Definitely 'CATS'"

This is by far the nicest thing anyone has said about the movie yet, and it's simply stating the fact that CATS the movie qualifies as an adaptation of CATS the show. This is like when I asked my husband how many fish he thought were in the ocean, and he said, "At least six." He's not wrong. But it's just about the safest answer he could have given. 

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"The worst thing I've ever seen"

David Farrier is a journalist and filmmaker from New Zealand who brought us such disturbing films as Tickled, a documentary about the insidious story behind the phenomenon of online tickling competitions. This guy thought CATS was "the worst thing" he's ever seen. And he's tracked down some actually seedy people.  

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"I hate this!!!"

Little kids have no filter. They don't hold anything back, and they are often ruthless purveyors of truth. When a little kid perks up to say they hate CATS, you believe them. Because they are right. 

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"Entirely indescribable"

For The Independent, Clarisse Loughrey wrote about the naked human-cat hybrids, the "maximum disorientation," and the "off-putting sexual energy" of the movie. If there's one constant in almost every review I've come across, it's that CATS is upsettingly horny. That's not entirely the film's fault, though. It was, unfortunately, part of the show, too. 

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Richard Lawson's review for Vanity Fair is somewhat more forgiving than most of the others, but it still manages to call the movie a "garish CGI experiment" and calls CATS director Tom Hooper a "villain." So... make of that what you will.

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I read parts of this review out loud to my husband because it made me cackle. Poor Jennifer Hudson wasn't going to escape unscathed — she has the biggest song in the show, and her performance seems just as simultaneously overwrought and self-conscious as the rest of the performances in the film. 

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"Huge phobia"

This film news and review site didn't even see the movie yet because they were so disturbed by the trailers. OK, more than likely, they just weren't invited to any advanced press screenings, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that they just couldn't handle it.

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"Both a horror and an endurance test"

I cannot get over this line from Justin Chang's LA Times review: "If [you haven't seen the show], you will emerge from the theater fully in the know, with songs like “The Rum Tum Tugger” (that’s Jason Derulo) and “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” (Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan, respectively) skittering around in your head like tiny human-faced cockroaches, to borrow one of this movie’s more disquieting visuals." Human-faced cockroaches. Human! Faced! Cockroaches!

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"One of the worst pieces of art I've ever witnessed"

Tom Hooper and the rest of the CATS gang is, according to film critic Guy Lodge, much like the overzealous scientists who decided it would be a good idea to resurrect the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. In short, they messed up. Big time. Guy goes on to say that this isn't a reason not to see the movie, and "you should see it for yourself if you're remotely curious: a big studio swing-and-a-miss on this scale doesn't come along that often."

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"Didn't hate it"

This is not a joke. While there are a few more positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes now, for a while, the only one was, "I didn't hate it." Truly the best thing this person could say about it. To be honest, thought, some of the more positive reviews on the site now still contain lines like, "In no way is this a good movie but it's an utterly fascinating acid trip of a film."

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Meanwhile, dogs are over here like...

No one is benefitting from the utter disaster of CATS as much as dogs. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go cuddle my dog and promise him that no one will ever write a story about a bunch of weird dogs trying to die to get into dog heaven. It would never happen. We are well aware, after all, that all dogs go to heaven.

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