Tom Hooper’s Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation “Cats” quickly became one of the most reviled films of all time when it opened in December 2019. It dropped like a thud at the box office, and earned excoriating reviews for its creepy, uncanny-valley visuals. Set in a red-light district corner of London made to look like New Orleans, it painted a sexless world where the cats have no genitals, but there are cat breasts, cats thrusting, and little dancing mice and cockroaches with human faces pasted onto them. Audiences began to enjoy watching the movie while on drugs.
But “Cats” does have its defenders, and one of them turns out to be Jennifer Hudson, who plays the lonesome and decrepit Grizabella the Glamour Cat, who sings the fan-favorite “Memory.” In a recent interview with Total Film while promoting her new film “Respect,” in which she stars as Aretha Franklin, Hudson said that she thinks future generations will look back on “Cats” differently.
“You know what? I think it was a bit overwhelming. It’s unfortunate that it was misunderstood,” she said of the negative reactions. “I think later down the line, people will see it differently. But it is something I am still very proud of and grateful to have been a part of. Yeah, I got to be Grizabella the Glamour Cat!”
While Hooper’s psychedelic vision of “Cats” received zero Oscar nominations, the musical still became a talking point of the Oscars telecast in 2020 when cast members James Corden and Rebel Wilson mocked the movie’s CGI while presenting the award for Best Visual Effects. “As cast members of the motion picture ‘Cats,’ nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” Corden said from the stage. The Visual Effects Society went on to publicly slam their display.
“In presenting the Academy Award for outstanding visual effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie ‘Cats,’” the statement from the Visual Effects Society read. “The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly. The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing and honoring visual effects as an art form — and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued.”