* * ½
(Poor translation from stage to screen)
We have seen the hit musical “CATS” five times (London, Broadway, Vets and PPAC twice.) It goes without saying that we are fans.
Unfortunately, the intimate musical does not translate well from stage to big screen. Hollywood tries too hard to make the lovely little musical into an over-the-top production. Costuming is ruined by using enhancements that take the cleverness out of the makeup and make it seem phony. The small, innovative single set is opened up for big production numbers that use too many special effects and animatronics that take away from the intimacy of the characters.
While newcomer Francesca Hayward makes a wonderful Victoria, Rebel Wilson is just plain awful as Jennyanydots and James Corden is painful to watch as Bustopher Jones. We could buy Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, but Taylor Swift didn't cut it as the mysterious Bombalurina.
Straying from the tight plot made the time drag, and we couldn't wait for Jennifer Hudson to finally sing "Memory,” leading to an overdone finale instead of the poor old cat rising to the heavens on an old tire.
Some musicals just aren't made for the big screen.