The ‘Cats’ movie was so horrific that it made Andrew Lloyd Webber get a dog

Two adults dressed in large cat suits backstage at an awards show
“Cats” won Razzies in 2020, not Oscars, but that didn’t stop cast members Rebel Wilson, left, and James Corden from donning cat costumes at that year’s Academy Awards.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Poor Andrew Lloyd Webber. The “Cats” movie may have cut him the deepest of all.

Even the English composer’s nearly 30 years of knighthood — plus the fact that he crafted the original stage production — weren’t enough to protect him from Taylor Swift’s and James Corden’s digitally done and then undone backsides.

And let’s not forget the widely panned 2019 film’s basic dearth of plot and heavy use of “digital fur technology” and the fact that it was more enjoyable if you watched it while stoned.


“‘Cats’ was off-the-scale all wrong,” Lloyd Webber told Variety in a new story published this week. “There wasn’t really any understanding of why the music ticked at all.”

Wait, there was music? Oh, yeah, “Cats” is nothing but music. “Memory” and all that. Also, that “Beautiful Ghosts” song Swift wrote right after she went to “cat school.”

Despite an Oscar-winning director and an all-star cast, the movie version of blockbuster Broadway musical “Cats” is a creative cat-astrophe.

Dec. 18, 2019

The source material was sold to Amblin for possible production as an animated flick directed by Steven Spielberg, Variety said, but that didn’t pan out. (Slick career management, Mr. Spielberg!) Then it was handed over to “The King’s Speech” and “Les Misérables” director Tom Hooper, which Lloyd Webber said locked in the disaster.

Lloyd Webber explained it to the Sunday Times of London last summer: “The problem with the film was that Tom Hooper decided, as he had with Les Mis, that he didn’t want anybody involved in it who was involved in the original show,” he told the newspaper. “The whole thing was ridiculous.”

An older man poses in a black suit and purple tie
Andrew Lloyd Webber in New York in 2019.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

“[T]here is, to be sure, some representational value to be gleaned from these cats and their singing suicidal Olympics,” The Times’ film critic Justin Chang wrote in his review of the mess. “Given how often the movies tend to stereotype felines as smug, pampered homebodies, there are certainly worse characters one could spend time with, though 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,” Chang continued, “‘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.”

Taylor Swift reveals she went to “cat school” for her role in “Cats” and dishes on co-writing a song for the musical film with Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Oct. 30, 2019

Lloyd Webber’s reaction was similar, albeit without the kitty pun.

“I saw it and I just thought, ‘Oh, God, no.’ It was the first time in my 70-odd years on this planet that I went out and bought a dog,” the 73-year-old composer said. “So the one good thing to come out of it is my little Havanese puppy.”

Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical exists in a neon-drenched netherworld where horror and tedium become one.

Dec. 18, 2019

The pup will likely travel with his pop the next time Lloyd Webber returns to New York, where he was interviewed while getting “Phantom of the Opera” ready for its post-pandemic reopening. The newly minted dog dad says he has the emotional-support animal thing all figured out. He said he wrote to an airline asking to have his canine companion with him during the flight.

“The airline wrote back and said, ‘Can you prove that you really need him?’” Lloyd Webber said slyly. “And I said, ‘Yes, just see what Hollywood did to my musical ‘Cats.’

“Then the approval came back with a note saying, ‘No doctor’s report required.’”