A photo of the author watching ‘Cats’ from the safety and comfort of her own bed.
With coronavirus shutting down cinemas around the world, there’s never been a worse time to go to the movies. And sure, that loss is mitigated somewhat by the fact that you can access literally thousands of movies at your fingertips via iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and what have you. If all you want is to see something, you have no shortage of options.
What’s missing during this time of social distancing, though, is the communal aspect of the theatergoing experience — the excuse to meet up with friends, the energy of an enthralled crowd, the lively conversations that follow. And if that last sentence made you feel a pang of regret, we have a suggestion for you.
Buy Cats. Convince your friends to do the same. Then log into a Google Hangout, and watch this thing together. Feel free to bring along any whiskey or edibles you may have stocked up on ahead of time.
Cats, out on VOD today (Tuesday), is the ideal pick for a virtual movie night not in spite of its terrible reputation (personally, I adored it) but because of it. It’s got a notoriety that, admit it, has you intrigued to see just how disastrous it could possibly be.
Attending a Jason Derulo concert during a pandemic: bad. Watching Cat Jason Derulo put on a concert from your own couch during a pandemic: good.
Give into your curiosity, and you’ll find a movie that offers no end of things to gasp or giggle or what-the-hell-did-I-just-see to your friends about. Trust me, a person who’s seen Cats four times in theaters, when I say that Rebel Wilson unzipping her cat skin suit to reveal another cat skin suit underneath is exactly the kind of hallucinatory vision you’ll want to turn to someone and yell about afterward.
And once you’re done collectively hyperventilating over that, or over James Corden gorging on enormous piles of garbage, or the utterly unsettling sight of the Idris Elba cat going fully naked, you can go right back to enjoying the movie, because it’s not like there’s a plot for you to lose track of.
Cats is the right jellicle choice.
The road to the Heaviside Layer (you’ll understand when you see the movie, or maybe you won’t) is filled with musical numbers to get your toes tapping, encourage impromptu singalongs, and maybe soundtrack your next hand-washing session. The story raises enough questions to provoke hours of debate, from big existential ones like “where are all the humans?” to nitpicky ones like “why is the fork in Mister Mistoffelees’ sleeve so tiny?”
You can even toss in a drinking game for good measure, once you’re got its rhythms down: Take a sip every time a cat hisses, or Macavity disappears, or anyone says “jellicle.” (On second thought, don’t do that last one. You’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning before Jennifer Hudson shows up.)
Cats may not have made a ton of money at the box office, but its sheer strangeness seems to have fated it for a new life as a cult hit, a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room — and like those movies, it has a mysterious but potent ability to unite a crowd.
And while it may not be a good idea for Cats to literally bring people together right now, we suspect it’ll cast a similar spell over broadband. If what you need after days alone in your room is to spend a couple of hours in a fantasy land with your friends, Cats is the right jellicle choice.