Album Review – Cats: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

It may be a flop in cinemas, however ‘Cats: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack’, is a pretty good album indeed!

My wife and I don’t have many family traditions, but one tradition we do practice each year is to watch a movie in cinema during that period in between Christmas/New Year’s, before going back to work for another year. And this year, with our one movie quota we watched CATS! (Although we’re dog people)…….

The Motion Picture

From all accounts, the motion picture adaptation of the popular stage production ‘Cats’ has been a real flop – as unimpressive as a once nice and fluffy cat, but now wet and all shrunken after a bath. However all the bad reviews still didn’t stop us from handing over hard-earned cash to watch it, and at George Street cinemas, there was actually a reasonably sized audience joining us – made up mostly of retirees and teenagers (you-know, the types of kids you’d expect to be performing at a high school’s production of ‘Cats’).

The film itself? I have to admit I totally fell asleep between minute 8 and minute 20 of the film (largely due to already having been made to sit through 30 minutes of back-to-back pre-screening adverts *Yawn*). While my wife found the middle portion of the film quite slow and hard to endure.

The film itself and the sound quality in our opinion, is best appreciated in a cinema, compared to watching it later on the small screen (ooh, it would be utterly horrible on DVD). And we have to agree with the critics and stack up criticisms on this fact – the CGI was distracting, which took away from the viewing experience, and the scaling of the set was baffling at times. However if you’d previously had the pleasure of watching the live stage production of Cats, you’d probably agree that the motion picture follows the musical numbers and storyline very closely. The only differences between the stage and motion picture productions was the larger role of Victoria (young white cat), her new song ‘Beautiful Ghosts’, a more star-studded cast (in no particular order except from oldest to youngest…… Judi Dench, Ian Mckellen, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, and Taylor Swift), and of course the main difference between the stage and motion picture versions was the distracting CGI used to transform man and woman into cats (in our opinion, echoing the thoughts of other critics, Lycra bodysuits and face paint would have been enough for 2019).

But for those who criticised the film for its storyline, or the lack thereof, if they entered the cinema remotely educated from reading up on the theatre production of Cats – they would’ve already known that Cats in all renditions lacks a storyline. In a nutshell, the storyline sees the new young white cat drop in on the night of the annual Jellicle Ball, where one cat is granted a new life after a competition (like having 9 lives isn’t already enough). The majority of the film is spent showcasing different cats (through song and dance), putting forward their individual arguments of why they should be the chosen one. And after a failed attempt by the villain to undermine the fair selection process, a cat is chosen. And somewhere along the way is the singing of the most iconic song number from Cats (‘Memories’). And after a pro-cat (anti-dog) direct appeal to camera, the film fades to black.

On the whole I walked away satisfied enough, as I’ve always enjoyed musicals, and my expectations when walking in were so low, it was quite easy for the film to meet and then exceed them.

The Soundtrack

As expected, the soundtrack of an onscreen musical was unable to capture all 100+ minutes of music from the film. Thus the soundtrack is titled ‘Cats: Highlights from the Motion Picture’, time limited to 59 mins. But we can only hold our breath and hope, that like Les Mis, in time they’ll release a deluxe 2-disc version that will include all 20+ songs featured in the film!

But if you’re still tossing up whether or not to watch the film, why not first give the soundtrack a go? The soundtrack contains the major tracks like:

Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats; The Rum Tum Tugger; Old Deuteronomy; Macavity; Mr. Mistoffelees; Memory; and Beautiful Ghosts – both Victoria’s and Taylor Swift’s versions.

We’ve been playing the soundtrack on our Google Home almost daily since we watched the film, and at times I’ve caught myself whistling to tracks from the album as they’re super ‘stuck in your brain’ earworms! If after you’ve listened to the album from Spotify, and you’re still left wanting, wondering ‘what am I missing out on?’, ‘which songs didn’t make it into the highlights?’ Then you’ll just have to watch it in cinema! The missing songs from the soundtrack include:

The Naming of Cats; Grizabella: The Glamour Cat; Growltiger’s Last Stand; The Jellicle Ball; The Moments of Happiness; and The Journey to the Heaviside.

So don’t just stand there! Go! Go! If Cats is doing as poorly as people claim it to be at the box-office, then it won’t be in cinemas for much longer- so go! Go! Don’t walk but run and catch it before it’s too late!

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