Christmas came early for fans of great bad movie reviews — because Cats has delivered on every promise its nightmare-fuel-drenched trailers promised. Directed by Tom Hooper, and based on the hugely successful stage musical, Cats arrives in theaters full of bizarre sights and some lovely sounds — but mostly with a series of deranged images that will haunt you, now and forever.

The pleasure in watching a movie as nutty as Cats is recounting its craziest details with other people who have survived it. And so after I wrote about Cats myself, I took a spin through my colleagues’ reviews, and found them to be uniformly excellent and hilarious. While you can find many more samples at Rotten Tomatoes (where Cats currently has a rating of 17 percent), here are my favorites so far:

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:

The bobbing butts have their obvious appeal. But Hooper’s mistake is that he’s tried to class up the joint. What a blunder! In feline terms, this is a movie without epic hairballs, without rear-end sniffing, without a deep, wounding scratch.

Alison Willmore, Vulture:

To assess Cats as good or bad feels like the entirely wrong axis on which to see it. It is, with all affection, a monstrosity.

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times:

I am hard-pressed at the moment to think of many worse movies. I say this with zero hyperbole and the smallest kernel of admiration. For the most part, “Cats” is both a horror and an endurance test, a dispatch from some neon-drenched netherworld where the ghastly is inextricable from the tedious. Every so often it does paws — ahem, pause — to rise to the level of a self-aware hoot.


Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly:

The plot, essentially, could be written on a slip of blotter acid: A scampering throng of spandex-y, alley-stalking strays assemble in the late-night streets of London for a sort of tomcat talent show, deciding which among them they will ritually murder — sorry, “send to the Heaviside layer” — by dawn.

Ty Burr, Boston Globe:

There are moments in “Cats” I would gladly pay to unsee, including the baby mice with faces of young girls and the tiny chorus line of cockroach Rockettes — again, with human faces — that Jennyanydots gleefully swallows with a crunch. Anyone who takes small children to this movie is setting them up for winged-monkey levels of night terrors.

Gabriella Paiella, GQ:

Did they run out of the CGI budget 95 percent of the way through and is that why the cats have hauntingly realistic human fingers and toes?

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

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.

Stephanie Zacharek, Time:

Scorned by the other cats for going off with Macavity, who then ruined her, she sings a very sad-sounding song called “Memory,” whose lyrics make absolutely no sense.

Hoai-Tran Bui, /Film:

The aforementioned Rebel Wilson musical sequence has the comedian stripping off her fur skin to reveal yet another fur skin underneath, but this time with a halter top. It’s the kind of body horror that is played for laughs, but grows more discomfiting when Wilson leads an army of badly CG-animated cockroaches in a dance sequence, popping one in her mouth before she heads to her band of mice that she’s trapped — the mice all played by children, for some reason.

Tim Robey, The Telegraph:

The only realistic way to fix Cats would be to spay it.

Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast:

A tribe of neglected cats called the Jellicles gather for the Jellicle Ball, at which they decide which one of them gets to ascend to the Heaviside Layer, their version of heaven, and be reborn into a new life. One by one, they introduce themselves with a song that constantly repeats their name. A famous lady sings “Memory” (in this case, that’s Hudson) and a wise cat named Old Deuteronemy (played here by Dench) chooses the winner, who is then sacrificed and everybody goes home. In other words, the Jellicle cats are a cult.

Adam Graham, Detroit News:

Forget worst movie of the year: "Cats" is the biggest disaster of the decade, and possibly thus far in the millennium. It's "Battlefield Earth" with whiskers.

Karen Han, Polygon:

There are three good things to be said about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical Cats: it’s an impressive showcase for dancers, the costumes are inventive, and the songs, while nonsense, are catchy. Tom Hooper’s film adaptation neuters all three aspects. It does, however, have a fully nude but Ken-Dolled Idris Elba, Ian McKellen lapping milk out of a platter, cats getting yeeted into thin air, dancing cockroaches with human faces, and Jason Derulo screaming, “MILK!”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:

Is it the worst film of 2019, or simply the most recent misfire of 2019? Reader, I swear on a stack of pancakes: “Cats” cannot be beat for sheer folly and misjudgment and audience-reaction-to-“Springtime for Hitler”-in-“The Producers” stupefaction.

Nate Adams, The Only Critic:

Congratulations to dogs.

Cats opens in theaters this weekend. Good luck.

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