Francesca Hayward as cat-human-hybrid monstrosity Victoria. Image: UniversalDid you see the Cats movie? Ah ha ha, of course you didn’t. Luckily, you don’t need to put yourself through such trauma, because I’ve done it for you—and I have chronicled the events of the film here, to the best of my ability, so you can experience…
Did you see the Cats movie? Ah ha ha, of course you didn’t. Luckily, you don’t need to put yourself through such trauma, because I’ve done it for you—and I have chronicled the events of the film here, to the best of my ability, so you can experience the nightmare of Cats from a safe distance.
I’d say “spoiler warning” if there were any chance you were going to see it, but there’s obviously not. So let me just say this: “Warning. This is a movie that exists.”
Woman in car: You monster. You fucking monster.
(The car screeches to a halt in front of a trash-strewn alley. The woman exits the car, roughly carrying a bag, and walks into an alley.)
Woman: If you ever somehow manage to find my home again I will burn it down. I will burn it down even if I’m in it. Because I will happily die to ensure I never have to see a monstrosity like you ever again
(The woman tosses bag to the ground then quickly gets in her car.)
Woman, whispering to herself: May god have mercy on my soul.
(She drives off, tires squealing. Something inside the bag moves. A tiny creature emerges. It is a small, white, nude Thundercat. It is not an anthropomorphic cat; it is too human-looking to be a cat, and yet it is too cat-like to be human. It is an aberration, a sin, a monster never-before-conceived by humanity.)
Victoria the “cat,” looking around at her new surroundings: Well, shit.
(More tiny human-cat hybrid monsters appear from behind trash cans and garbage, circling a nervous, confused Victoria. Then they begin to sing at her.)
Cat: Are you blind when you’re born?
Victoria: Yeah, I guess so? I mean, I was like a day old, so my memory isn’t great.
Cat 2: Can you see in the dark?
Victoria: Yes, I’m a cat. (looks around confusedly) All cats can see in the dark. Right?
Cat 3: Can you look at a king?
Victoria: Um, yes? Guys, if you’re worried about my eyes they work just fine, I can see basically anything in front of—
Cat 4: Would you sit on his throne?
Victoria: …maybe? If it’s comfy? Would I get in troub—
Cat 5: Can you say of your bite that it’s worse than your bark?
Victoria: Yes, because I don’t bark, because, again, I am a cat.
Cat 6: Are you cock of the walk when you’re walking alone
Victoria: Is this some sort of psychology test or something?
Cats, in unison: Because Jellicles are and Jellicles do
Cats: Jellicles do and Jellicles would
Victoria: So, you guys are Jellicles? That’s…a good thing?
Cats: Jellicles would and Jellicles can
Victoria: And what is a Jellicle exactly?
Cats: Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Victoria: Yeah, I got it. Jellicles are clearly a big deal.
Cats: Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Victoria: Am I a Jellicle? Is this why you’re singing this to me?
Cats: Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Victoria: Guys, seriously, I get it, but—
Cats: Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Victoria: STOP SAYING JELLICLE
Munkustrap: With that out of the way, let me explain what’s going on.
Victoria: Thank god.
Munkustrap: You come at an auspicious time! Tonight is the Jellicle Ball, where our leader Old Deuteronomy will choose a candidate to be reincarnated as a new cat!
Victoria: Oh, wow. That’s—that’s a lot to take in. I didn’t realize “Jellicle” was some sort of, uh, a religious sect.
Munkustrap: Let’s meet the candidates!
Victoria: Oh, the ones to be reincarnated? Look, I’m new here, I probably don’t need—
(Jenny Anydots busts into the room.)
Jenny Anydots: I’M A FAT CAT ISN’T IT FUNNY
I HAVE ENSLAVED TINY MUTANT NIGHTMARE MICE TO PERFORM FOR MY PLEASURE
I CAN LITERALLY TAKE MY SKIN OFF BECAUSE I SOMEHOW HAVE MORE SKIN UNDERNEATH
ALSO I EAT ANTHROPOMORPHIC COCKROACHES BECAUSE ALL CATS EAT COCKROACHES RIGHT IT’S A THING EVERY SINGLE CAT DOES AND PEOPLE ALL KNOW THIS ABOUT CATS SO THIS IS A FUNNY JOKE AND NOT SOME UNIMAGINABLE HORROR RIGHT
(Victoria screams and does not stop.)
Munkustrap: Now let’s meet our next candidate, Rum Tum Tugger!
Victoria: No thank you.
Various cats: The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
Rum Tum Tugger: If you offer me pheasant, I’d rather have grouse
If you put me in a house, I would much prefer a flat
If you put me in a flat, then I’d rather have a house
If you set me on a mouse, then I only want a rat
If you set me on a rat, then I’d rather chase a mouse
Victoria: You seem to have confused the word “curious” with “asshole.”
Rum Tum Tugger, giving Victoria a hard look: The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat!
Victoria: Well, I am curious if you were named after some kind of sex act or a men’s masturbatory aid.
(Munkustrap hurriedly drags Victoria away)
(As they walk, Victoria spies Grizabella peeping at them from down the alley.)
Victoria, nudging Munkustrap: Hey, who’s that?
Munkustrap, with a sneer: That’s Grizabella. She was great and beautiful and famous until she dated Macavity.
Victoria: Who’s Macavity? What did he do that was so bad?
Munkustrap: He’s depraved. He’s a master criminal. He kidnaps—uh, catnaps people. He also apparently has some book of magic that can actually cast spells, which is weird.
Victoria: And Grizabella helps him with that? Macavity can’t be that good of a criminal. (Victoria points at Grizabella.) She’s literally dressed in tattered rags, which is itself weird, since a great deal of us are totally nude.
Munkustrap: Macavity dumped her years ago, but we shun Grizabella for dating that monster at all.
Victoria: Uh-huh. (Pause.) And when was Grizabella dumped?
Munkustrap: About five years ago.
Victoria: So, about three decades in cat time, during which you’ve completely ostracized her for a single mistake made almost certainly in passion, despite her not having committed an actual crime. Cool. Cool cool cool.
(The two cats enter a new building.)
Munkustrap: Here he is, the next Jellicle candidate!
Bustopher Jones: I AM ALSO A FAT CAT AND I AM GOING TO SING ABOUT WHAT A FAT FATTY AM I
Victoria, to Munkustrap: I’m sorry, I just remembered I need to run into heavy traffic.
Bustopher Jones: I AM ALSO PAINFULLY UNFUNNY BUT I WILL NOT EAT NIGHTMARE COCKROACH PEOPLE
Victoria, sighing: I hate that my standards for entertainment have suddenly dropped so low that I find this acceptable.
(Macavity suddenly appears.)
Macavity: I am an evil cat who can literally perform magic and I’m taking Jenny Anydots and Bustopher Jones with me!
Victoria, shrugging: Please do!
(Macavity and the two cats disappear in smoke, and all the other cats run away in fear.)
Victoria, shouting as they depart: Thank you!
(Two new cats slowly approach Victoria.)
Mungojerrie: Hey, we’re asshole cats.
Victoria: Dude? As far as I can tell, every cat here is an asshole.
Rumpleteaser: Oh, we’re not obnoxious or cruel. We’re assholes because we like to fuck humans’ shit up. Wanna come?
Victoria: Hell yes I do.
(Later, Victoria and Mr. Mistoffelees walk through the alley.)
Victoria: Thanks for saving me from that dog after those two asshole cats abandoned me!
Mr. Mistoffelees: No problem! I mainly did it because I’m super into you.
Victoria, not paying attention: Not that I’m mad at them. They were very upfront with me about being assholes, so it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into. I—wait.
(Victoria looks around the street and the various garbage in it, gets a confused look on her face, and then stops immediately.)
Mr. Mistoffelees: Yes?
Victoria: Are we… are we changing sizes?
Mr. Mistoffelees: What do you mean?
Victoria: I mean a little while ago I was as tall as a cat standing on its hind legs. Like, if a real cat extended its paws and stretched out, my feet and hands would line up with its front and back paws, so we’d both be about two feet long/tall, speaking very generally. You get me?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Not even a little!
Victoria: But right now, we’re currently as tall as a cat who is walking normally, by which I mean on all fours. So my head is at the height of where a cat’s ears would be, while my feet are still on the floor. If I’m as tall as a cat standing on all four legs, like a cat normally does, that makes me a foot tall, tops. And at the moment I think we’re currently shorter than that for some reason.
Mr. Mistoffelees: Yeah, we’re cats. So we’re the size of cats.
Victoria: No! We’re two different sizes of cats! Sometimes we’re the length of cats, and sometimes we’re the height of cats! There’s more than a foot difference in-between! Dude, this is insane!
Mr. Mistoffelees: …but we’re always still technically the size of cats, yes?
Victoria: Yes, bu—
Mr. Mistoffelees: Because we’re cats!!!
Victoria: Oh my god. We really are monsters.
(They approach a building, and Mr. Mistoffelees holds the door open so the very distracted Victoria can enter. It takes her a moment to notice the surroundings.)
Victoria: Wait. Where are we?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Why, we’re at the Jellicle Ball, of course!
Mr. Mistoffelees: Oh, look! It’s Old Deuteronomy!
(Judi Dench in cat make-up shuffles in.)
Various Cats: I believe it is Old Deuteronomy
Well of all things can it be really
No. Yes. Ho. Hi. Oh my eye!
Victoria: Jesus Christ.
Various Cats: My mind may be wandering but I confess
I believe it is Old Deuteronomy
Victoria: Isn’t she supposed to be here to judge this goddamn thing and figure out who gets resurrected? Why are you all so surprised?!
Old Deuteronomy: Let the Jellicle Ball commence! First up, Gus, the Theater Cat!
Victoria: Oh, he’s also very old. Hmm.
(Gus sings about how old age robs us of everything we hold dear.)
Victoria, turning to Mr. Mistoffelees: Hey. This Jellicle Ball thing is about deciding who gets resurrected, right?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Indeed! The cats perform, and Old Deuteronomy picks who deserves it.
Victoria: Why doesn’t she pick the dude who’s closest to death?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Hmm?
Victoria: What’s the point of resurrecting cats who are in the middle of their lives? Why not just give it to the oldest cats?
(Gus’s song ends, and he’s kidnapped by Macavity offstage.)
Mr. Mistoffelees: Well, uh…hmm.
Victoria: Is there something special about this reincarnation that’s, like, better than regular reincarnation? Why are all these younger cats so into it? Why is everybody working so hard to die?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Uh…
(Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat gets on stage and sings about trains or some shit.)
Victoria: And wait a goddamn minute. What happens to the cats who don’t get picked? Do they just…die? Forever?
Mr. Mistoffelees: I guess I hadn’t thought about it.
Victoria: Does this old lady really have the power to resurrect people? If so, why doesn’t she just do it for everybody? Why make people perform for it?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Well, the cat needs to deserve it.
Victoria: By song? That’s the only metric by which a cat deserves an entirely new life or is consigned to eternal oblivion? Because if that’s so I heard Grizabella sing a bit of “Memory” a little while ago and she makes every other cat here sound like hot garbage.
(Macavity kidnaps Skimbleshanks mid-song and Bombalurina appears on the stage, sprinkling catnip everywhere)
Victoria, running as quickly to the catnip as possible: Oh thank fuck.
(Bombalurina’s song ends and Macavity appears. Victoria is pushing the catnip into lines and is snorting them.)
Macavity: Deuteronomy! I demand you choose me for the Jellicle resurrection!
Old Deuteronomy: Never, you vile cat!
Macavity: If you do not, I shall—
Victoria, slurring: Why do you have abs?
Old Deuteronomy: Huh?
Victoria: You’re fucking ripped, dude.
Macavity: Yeah, I’m Idris Elba.
Victoria: No no no. I mean, you’re a cat with a crazy-defined six-pack. The rest of us are pretty sexless. None of us have muscles. We’re all pretty smooth. Even us lady cats have our breasts taped down or something.
Victoria: Not that I’m complaining! I’m much happier than if the movie had tried to make us all sexy because that would make this nightmare like 20 times more disturbing. And I know this because you are obviously supposed to be a sexy cat man that people want to fuck, and it’s creepy as hell, and you by your sexy self are making everything five times more disturbing. Your sexiness is making everything so much worse the catnip is no longer helping and I hate you.
Macavity: I’m just going to kidnap Deuteronomy and go then.
Victoria: Make sure to take your abs with you.
(Macavity and Deuteronomy disappear.)
Victoria: If I start overdosing on catnap please no one reincarnate me.
(Mr. Mistoffelees teleports Old Deuteronomy back from Macavity’s boat, which was a thing he had for some reason.)
Old Deuteronomy: Now that I’m back, I can make the Jellicle Choice!
Victoria, from the back: Wait a sec!
(Victoria physically pushes Grizabella to the stage.)
Victoria: I was serious about Grizabella. She sings better than all of you and you’ve all treated her like shit for years. If anyone here deserves a new life, it’s her.
(Grizabella sings about how her life was briefly good but mostly sucked shit.)
Old Deuteronomy: Grizabella, you have sung the musical’s most beloved song, and thus, you are my Jellicle Choice!
Victoria: So, uh. Do we kill her now, or…?
Grizabella: Death would be a blessing.
Old Deuteronomy: You may ascend to…the Heaviside Layer!
Victoria: Wait, what the hell is a Heaviside Layer?
(The cats lead Grizabella onto a weird-looking chandelier.)
Victoria: Is that heaven? Is it cat heaven? Is it some cat purgatory where she gets reincarnated? Because it sounds like a really pretentious dance club or something. Which I guess would be on brand, actually.
(The chandelier starts to ascend. Grizabella beams beatifically on the cats below as they watch her rise into the air and through a hole in the ceiling.)
(The chandelier is now also a hot air balloon.)
Victoria: What the fuck?
(Macavity runs across a rooftop to grab at one of the balloon’s dangling ropes.)
Victoria: Is the balloon thing supposed to happen? Is this how the ceremony goes every year?
Mr. Mistoffelees: Yes!
Victoria: Where are you getting all these chandeliers and balloons?
(Macavity falls off the roof, presumably to his death. The balloon continues rising until it’s only a speck in the sky.)
Victoria: When does the magic happen?
Old Deuteronomy: Hmm?
Victoria: When does the magic happen? Like, when do you do the spell that reincarnates her?
Old Deuteronomy: This is the magic.
Old Deuteronomy: Yes?
Victoria: The balloon.
Old Deuteronomy: Yes.
Victoria: The balloon is the magic?
Old Deuteronomy: Yes.
Victoria: No it’s not.
Old Deuteronomy: It is.
Victoria: No. There’s been plenty of weird magic happening here, I’ll grant you, but that was just a balloon.
Old Deuteronomy: She’s traveling to the Heaviside Layer.
Victoria: No, she’s not. She’s just going into the sky.
Old Deuteronomy: That’s where the Heaviside Layer is.
Victoria: Nope. That’s where clouds are.
Old Deuteronomy: The Heaviside Layer is in the clouds.
Victoria: It very much is not.
Old Deuteronomy: Look, you’re new here, so—
Victoria: Have you ever met any of the cats that were reincarnated?
Old Deuteronomy: I probably have.
Old Deuteronomy: I mean, they don’t know about their past lives, so it’s not like they can tell me who they used to be. But I probably have.
Victoria: You are straight-up shooting cats into the sky to asphyxiate to death.
Old Deuteronomy: Well, that’s rude.
Victoria: Is it rude? Is it rude of me to point out you’re a cult leader who murders one of your followers every year?
Old Deuteronomy: Again, you’re very new here, so I wouldn’t expect you to understand all—
Victoria: Oh, I definitely don’t understand. This is utterly bananas, and given that we’re all freakish monstrosities who can perform actual magic and change size randomly, that’s really saying something
Old Deuteronomy: Frankly, I don’t think you’re cut out to be a Jellicle cat.
Victoria: FUCKING GOOD. YOU’VE MADE MY FUCKING DAY.
(Old Deuteronomy harrumphs, and looks directly into the camera.)
Victoria: I STILL DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A GODDAMN JELLICLE IS
Old Deuteronomy, addressing the two people in the theater: You’ve heard of several kinds of cat
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand our character
Victoria: NOW WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING
Old Deuteronomy: You’ve learned enough to take the view
That cats are very much like you
You’ve seen us both at work and games
And learnt about our proper names
Our habits and our habitat
But how would you ad-dress a cat?
Victoria: JUST CALL US BY OUR NAMES IT’S NOT A TRICK QUESTION
Old Deuteronomy: So first, your memory I’ll jog
And say: A cat is not a dog
Victoria: OH MY FUCK
Old Deuteronomy: Now dogs pretend they like to fight
They often bark, more seldom bite
But yet a dog is, on the whole
What you would call a simple soul
Victoria: DID YOU LITERALLY JUST TELL PEOPLE CATS ARE NOT DOGS
Old Deuteronomy: The usual dog about the town
Is much inclined to play the clown
Victoria: I CAN DO THIS TOO
Old Deuteronomy: And far from showing too much pride
Is frequently undignified
Victoria: HEY GUYS PIGEONS ARE ALSO NOT HOTELS
Old Deuteronomy: He’s such an easygoing lout
He’ll answer any hail or shout
Victoria: SNAILS ARE NOT WAFFLES
Old Deuteronomy: The usual dog about the town
Is inclined to play the clown
Victoria: HOW AND WHY ARE YOU STILL TALKING ABOUT DOGS
Old Deuteronomy: Again I must remind you that
A dog’s a dog, a cat’s a cat
Old Deuteronomy: With cats, some say one rule is true
Don’t speak ‘til you are spoken to
Myself I do not hold with that
Victoria: NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU THINK YOU MANIAC
Old Deuteronomy: I say you should ad-dress a cat
But always bear in mind that he
Victoria: WE’RE NOT EVEN REALLY CATS WE’RE TINY FURRY LOVECRAFTIAN HORRORS
Old Deuteronomy: You bow, and taking off your hat
Ad-dress him in this form: “O’ cat!”
Before a cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend
Victoria: NO ONE WANTS TO BE OUR FRIENDS WE DISGUST THEM AND RIGHTLY SO
Old Deuteronomy: Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream
Victoria: WHY WON’T THIS NIGHTMARE EEENNNNNNNDDDDDDD
Old Deuteronomy: A cat’s entitled to expect
These evidences of respect
So this is this, and that is that
And there’s how you ad-dress a cat!
Victoria: SOMEONE PLEASE DIRECT ME TO THE NEAREST DEATH BALLOON
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