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I have a confession to make: I don’t particularly care for the theatrical endeavors of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Don’t get me wrong, I tear up at “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” as much as the next musical theater nerd, but the rest of Weber’s repertoire I can do without. “The Phantom of the Opera”? Overrated. “Jesus Christ Superstar”? Sacrilegious. But nothing compares to the knighted composer’s anthropomorphic affront to the aesthetic categories of music, theater, and musical theater: “Cats.” Celebrate the release of Tom Hooper’s 2019 film adaptation by watching one of these five superior flicks about cats instead!
The Lion King (1994 or 2019)
Let’s start with the obvious. If you’re looking for a movie that includes cats, music, theater, and intrigue, look no further than “The Lion King.” Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” this Disney classic follows Simba (Matthew Broderick) on a quest to avenge the death of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). The 2019 remake features Jones (again), Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the one-and-only Beyoncé Knowles Carter — none of whom are depicted incessantly licking their unconvincingly feline, meticulously CGI-ed rear ends.
Puss in Boots (2011)
“Puss in Boots” also stars an anthropomorphic talking cat, but in much more elaborate footwear. The titular feline (Antonio Banderas) sets off on a quest for the magic beans of “Jack and The Beanstalk” fame. Along the way, he encounters love, action, and betrayal. Banderas’s Puss in Boots and Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) form a ruffian power couple, which is more than can be said for “Cats”’s (cat)womanizing Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo).
Pet Sematary (1989)
If “Cats” has soured you on movies that focus solely on cats, consider “Pet Sematary,” in which you can watch a plain ole’ non-anthropomorphized cat named Church be hit by a car and then resurrected in (you guessed it!) the aforementioned, incorrectly spelled animal graveyard. The rest of this bone-chilling adaptation of Steven King’s 1983 horror novel has very little to do with cats, but makes up for it by somehow still being less haunting than the image of Taylor Swift, James Corden, and Sir Ian Mckellen as imagined by furries.
An American Tail (1986)
This one is technically about mice, but it does, by proxy, include cats. The cats in question are the feline companions to the real-life Cossacks, who force the Russian-Jewish family of the protagonist mouse, Fievel Mousekewitz, to flee their home for America. The tale (pun intended) is an intense, unapologetic, and ever-timely one. Let the masses watch Jason Derulo douse his feline body with milk — you, my friend, can support the proletariat by cheering for Fievel as he fights to find his family and rescue his community from violence and economic exploitation.
The Aristocats (1970)
If you haven’t realized this yet, there are not many movies that center solely on cats. Mice and rats center frequently in media, ranging from Mickey Mouse cartoons to Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.” In this context, “The Aristocats” is the closest thing there is to a cat movie magnum opus. It is essentially the cat-version of “Taken,” in which the heiress aristo-cat Duchess and her kittens are kidnapped by their human butler in an effort to extort the fortune their human owner is leaving them. In this economy, it might be upsetting to watch an aging socialite leave her fortune to her cats, but it’s probably less upsetting than watching Rebel Wilson peel off her own feline skin in order to dance with cockroaches.
— Staff Writer Allison J. Scharmann can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @allyscharmann.
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