Cinema Dispatch: Cats

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Cats and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Tom Hooper

I know next to nothing about Cats the stage show or the TS Eliot book it’s based on.  I know it ends with a sad song that earns the cat another life and I know the band Mungo Jerry took its name after a character in it, but other than I don’t have the first clue; not to the narrative, what the famous songs are, or why it’s so popular that a studio sunk a bajillion dollars into making good actors look like creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau to bring it to the big screen.  Yeah, those trailers weren’t doing this film a lot of favors as the odd cat suits were all anyone was talking about and it certainly wasn’t selling a newbie like me on the CATS experience.  Still, even if the effects are strange there could be an engaging and heartfelt story beating underneath that’ll make up for all tht which if nothing else will explain why the stage show is still popular after all this time.  Is this the cinematic dance party of 2019 that The Greatest Showman was for 2018, or will this sit right alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other missteps like Love Never Dies and Gerard Butler?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Victoria (Francesca Hayward) being dumped in an alley by her human owner (a very disturbing sight by the way coupled with these shrunken cat humanoids) and she is greeted by the Jellicle Cats.  What’s a Jellicle Cat?  I have no idea, but I think it involves three years of ballet and two years of tap.  The Jellicle Cats led by Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) take Victoria through the streets of London to meet other Jellicle Cats like Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, and Rum Tum Tugger (Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, and Jason Derulo), and eventually to the Jellicle Ball which is some sort of talent show where even MORE cats show up to strut their stuff in the hopes of winning a new life.  I’m not sure if this is some reincarnation deal or if they get a tenth life tacked to the end of their ninth, but regardless there are a lot of cats trying to impress the leader of the Jellicle Cats, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), who is the one that will ultimately make the decision.  Some cats like Gus and Skimbleshanks (Ian McKellen and Steven McRae) will simply try to do their best, while others like Macavity (Idris Elba) will use underhanded means to try and while, and others still like Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) are excluded entirely, for… reasons.  Will Victoria find a place among the Jellicle Cats now that she no longer has a home with the humans?  Who will be chosen to receive the ultimate prize this night, and how far will Macavity go to try and secure it?  Does anyone know if this is all one big joke?  Who looked at those faces and thought, YUP!  THAT’S WHAT WE WANT TO SPEND OUR MONEY ON!!

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What an un-fur-tunate turn of events.  I am not kitten you when I say this is an utter cat-astrophe.  Quite A-paw-ling when you get right down to it.  An in-fur-ior interpretation of the stage show and a slap in the face, meta-fur-kitty speaking.

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Cinema Dispatch: Sing

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Sing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

It seems that Illumination’s business model is to just hammer us over and over again with constant advertisements and marketing pushes for whatever movie that will soon (and not so soon) be hitting theaters.  We see it with The Minions invading everything from ironic T-shirts to toilet brushes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who got REAL sick of those Secret Life of Pets trailers about four months before the damn movie came out.  At least with Sing, Illumination had a decent enough premise on its hand and the trailers only got better as time went on. Still, that’s the same strategy that Suicide Squad had, and while I didn’t HATE it, the trailers were clearly selling a film that the ACTUAL movie couldn’t live up to.  Will that be the case here with Illuminations latest effort to take over the world with marketable CG characters, or is there something genuinely great here from a studio that’s only made fluff so far?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is rather simple as it’s about a theater owning koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who gets desperate enough to rip off American Idol and naturally becomes the talk of the town once he holds open auditions.  Our heroes are a gorilla with daddy issues named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who’s right out of the Marge Simpson School of quiet desperation, a shy but talented elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a too cool for school porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s relationship with her boyfriend is being strained by this competition.  I guess I should also mention Mike the Mouse (Seth MacFarlane), but calling him a hero is a bit of a stretch as he’s the one who REALLY wants to win by any means necessary.  Of course, noting goes quite as well as it should, what with Buster’s finances in total disarray and his talent dealing with their own problems at home that threaten to derail this singing competition as much as Buster’s inability to keep the lights on.  Will this competition be exactly what Buster needs to save his theater and what everyone else needs to change their lives for the better?  What kind of shenanigans does Mike have up his tiny sleeves that can cause big problems for everyone else?  Is anyone else feeling a distinct lack of Billy Joel in this movie filled with so many oldies!?

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“We didn’t start the fire!  It was always burning since the world’s been turning!!”

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