Movies

The Rundown: The ‘Cats’ Situation Is Getting Out Of Hand

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — Help

Here’s the problem: I think I have to see Cats now. I did not expect to be in this position. I had no intention of seeing Cats. I did not even really know what Cats was or was about until very recently, beyond the standard “it was a long-running musical in which humans dressed up as cats” knowledge that one just kind of acquires by living in the world. But since then I have read the Wikipedia page for Cats and watched the trailers for the movie, the latest of which was released a few days ago and looks like this…

… and now I must see it. It looks so profoundly weird. And unsettling. The CGI human/cat situation is borderline horrifying and I can’t stop looking. And again, I really do insist that you read the Wikipedia plot description for the musical if you are not familiar with the story. You won’t even believe it. Here is one paragraph selected at random:

Then, as Rum Tum Tugger’s song fades, a shabby old grey cat stumbles out wanting to be reconciled; it is Grizabella. All the cats back away from her in fear and disgust and explain her unfortunate state (“Grizabella: The Glamour Cat”). Grizabella leaves and the music changes to a cheerful upbeat number as Bustopher Jones, a fat cat in “a coat of fastidious black”, is brought to the stage (“Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town”). Bustopher Jones is among the elite of the cats, and visits prestigious gentlemen’s clubs. Suddenly, a loud crash startles the tribe and the cats run offstage in fright. Hushed giggling sounds signal the entrance of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, a pair of near-identical cats. They are mischievous petty burglars who enjoy causing trouble around their human neighbourhood (“Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer”). After they finish, they are caught off-guard and confronted by the rest of the cats.

What is any of that?!

To be fair, none of this is any more unhinged than a crew of street racers getting recruited by a secret government agency to prevent a cyberterrorist with blond braids from hijacking a nuclear submarine in the arctic. In fact, that’s the point. Cats appears to have won me over with the Fast & Furious strategy of being huge and ridiculous in the face of reason and good taste. The more of a mess it looks like, the more hopelessly intrigued I am. It’s really becoming an issue. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Cats, is what I’m saying.

I have been spending too much time thinking about Cats, to be honest, which is not a thing I ever expected to say. Ever. In a million years. And yet, here I am. The other day I was just sitting around minding my own business and “WHAT IF WERNER HERZOG DIRECTED CATS?” came zooming into my brain at 100mph, just crash landing in my thought process and destroying any progress I was making on other tasks. And then I fell down a rabbit hole of Werner Herzog cat-related content. Here’s him narrating a video of a cat snuggling its owner while the owner plays the piano.

Here’s something he says in that video, which I have transcribed for you here because it’s too important to risk you missing it: “There’s something utterly, profoundly mysterious and hilarious about cats. They’re just going wild… and I love them for that.” Same, Werner Herzog. Same.

Or how about this. Earlier this week, I saw Phoebe Waller-Bridge did a By The Book interview at the New York Times and I clicked on it because I will click on any Phoebe Waller-Bridge content. And as I was reading it, I saw this…

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

That orgasms can be brought on by art, and vice versa.

Which subjects do you wish more authors would write about?

I wish more people would write from the point of view of tiny, witty animals.

… and now I want Phoebe Waller-Bridge to make a horny Cats. To be clear, I still have almost no idea what Cats is about, even after reading multiple plot descriptions and watching multiple trailers. I went from caring zero percent about Cats to having it ruin my entire life, all because it looks and sounds crazier than a sack of… well, cats. Dammit.

I am broken. This will not do.

ITEM NUMBER TWO — Bong Joon Ho gets it

NEON

The last time we checked in with Parasite director Bong Joon Ho, he was lying to Harvey Weinstein to prevent the now-disgraced Miramax boss from cutting the fish scene out of Snowpiercer. This was, and remains, cool. The policy of this column is to support all rascals in their rascal-y endeavors and few such acts are funnier than grifting goons with stories about fish. Good for you, Bong Joon Ho.

I bring this up again for two reasons: one, because I love it and wanted to tell everyone about it again; two, because this was Bong Joon Ho’s answer to the question “Would you ever direct a Marvel movie?”

I have a personal problem. I respect the creativity that goes into superhero films, but in real life and in movies, I can’t stand people wearing tight-fitting clothes. I’ll never wear something like that, and just seeing someone in tight clothes is mentally difficult. I don’t know where to look, and I feel suffocated. Most superheroes wear tight suits, so I can never direct one. I don’t think anyone will offer the project to me either. If there is a superhero who has a very boxy costume, maybe I can try.

It’s a fair point. And it brings up a good question: Why do superheroes wear such tight costumes? Superman wears tights with the underpants on the outside. Spider-Man wears spandex. Batman wears a form-fitting rubber sweatbox that can’t be comfortable at all. Captain America wears tights. Black Panther wears futuristic science tights. It’s madness.

You can fight crime just as well in, like, pajama pants and a zip-up hoodie. You might even fight crime better. Loose-fitting, comfortable clothes provide more freedom of movement. Better for roundhouse kicks and such. Hell, let some superhero wear cargo shorts. Use the extra pockets for gadgets. I really think we’re on to something.

Bong Joon Ho, make a movie about a superhero who dresses like a college sophomore. Change the whole game.

ITEM NUMBER THREE — Baby Yoda, debated

Disney+

THE CASE AGAINST BABY YODA

  • This is clearly just a ploy to sell merchandise
  • Disney and Star Wars are trying to manipulate us with memes
  • This is how they get you
  • I don’t even care about Star Wars
  • I should know better
  • Stocking-stuffer-ass muppet

THE CASE FOR BABY YODA

  • Look at that little guy
  • Look at his little face
  • Come on
  • I can’t be mad at that face

VERDICT

Baby Yoda is… good. I’m sorry.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR — The typecasting of Charles Dance

Netflix

On Game of Thrones, Charles Dance played Tywin Lannister, a powerful and imposing figure who commanded a large military force and became royalty-adjacent through a marriage involving a younger member of his family, which caused trouble as he attempted to exert influence over the actual governing of the kingdom in a time of political upheaval.

On The Crown, Charles Dance plays Lord Mountbatten, a powerful and imposing figure who commanded a large military force and became royalty-adjacent through a marriage involving a younger member of his family, which caused trouble as he attempted to exert influence over the actual governing of the kingdom in a time of political upheaval.

Both of them were later assassinated, too, albeit under slightly different circumstances. Mountbatten was killed in a boat explosion carried out by the IRA, whereas Tywin Lannister, as we all know, was pierced through the heart with the arrow from a crossbow while he was on the toilet. So the paths do diverge at some point. Unless The Crown decides to play very fast and loose with history. Which I would support fully. Add a dragon, too. See what I care.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE — They switched the samples!

Warner Bros.

Harrison Ford is coming to television. That’s the big news here. Harrison Ford is arguably — inarguably? — the greatest Movie Star in history. He played Han Solo and Indiana Jones. He once, in real life, crashed an airplane he was flying into a Los Angeles golf course and walked away from it. That last thing doesn’t have much to do with the first thing but I love it and will hammer it into any conversation I can. But Meryl Streep did a television show this year, too, so I guess nothing should surprise us anymore.

From Variety:

Variety has learned exclusively from sources that the iconic movie star is attached to star in a series adaptation of “The Staircase,” the docuseries that detailed the trial of American novelist Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife in 2001. Peterson claimed his wife died after falling down the stairs at their home, but police suspected he bludgeoned her to death and staged the scene to look like an accident.

Look, if you read that paragraph and didn’t immediately think about The Fugitive, I mean, God bless. Your brain works better than mine. Because I read that and a voice in my head immediately started shouting “I DIDN’T KILL MY WIFE” and “HE SWITCHED THE SAMPLES” over and over. It’s all right there. A husband suspected of killing his wife, confusion and controversy, Harrison Ford. I hope they cast Tommy Lee Jones as the local police chief and Julianne Moore as an emergency room doctor. I hope they solve the decades-old Staircase murder by revealing a one-armed man did it. Or a one-winged owl.

I don’t ask for much.

READER MAIL

If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at brian.grubb@uproxx.com (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

Joe:

Did you know Walton Goggins was in Major League 3: Back to the Minors? And that he plays a character named Billy “Downtown” Anderson (downtown because he hits the ball really far). And that in the film, he is the hot young prospect that gets called up too early and then has to go back to AAA to learn from Scott Bakula?

I remember seeing this movie when it hit video store shelves in the late 90s. And I remember Anderson being introduced as “#1 in your scorecards, and #1 in your hearts: Billy ‘Downtown’ Anderson!” But I only recently found that it was Goggins all along. That Downtown was Goggins and Goggins was Downtown. It blew my mind and you felt like the right person to tell.

BABY BILLY “DOWNTOWN” ANDERSON!

I either forgot about this or never knew it but it is very true and very exciting. Here, look at the trailer. Look at Baseball Goggins.

This was a good email. I am learning so much today.

AND NOW, THE NEWS

To England!

Just before 5 a.m. on Sept. 14, a fully-functioning toilet made of 18-karat gold was stolen from an art exhibition at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

There has been no trace of it since.

Ladies and gentlemen, not only do we have a gold toilet heist on our hands, we have a gold toilet heist MYSTERY.

This is the only thing I care about now. Please tell me more about the toilet mystery.

The police may not know what has happened to the toilet, but residents of Woodstock, a town near the palace, have plenty of theories.

Oh, hell yes. I am very much here for local theories about the missing gold toilet. The only thing that I don’t love about this is that another writer got sent to Woodstock, England to ask locals what they think happened to the missing gold toilet. I’m so jealous I could puke. This is like my dream assignment. Jesus Christ.

I’m fine. It’s okay. I’m fine. Please continue.

Martin Thomas-Jeffreys, an antiques dealer, said he was sure those theories were wrong. The toilet would have been melted down, he said. By some estimates, the gold could be worth $4 million. “Whoever did it, definitely planned it,” he said. “It’s not like slipping a tiara in your pocket, is it?”

Nobody had offered a gold toilet to his store, he added.

What I like about this guy is that he’s definitely thought about stealing a tiara. You don’t just jump straight to “slipping a tiara in your pocket.” That’s too specific. You have to have that already bouncing around in your head. Like, at some point in his life, he had to have seen a tiara and thought “I could just slip that right in my pocket and walk out with it.” This is why you always interview locals. There’s gold in those hills. Possibly from a melted down gold toilet.

“I very much doubt anyone’s stolen this because it’s art,” said Richard Ellis, former head of the Metropolitan Police’s art and antiques squad who is now a consultant on art theft, referring to Mr. Cattelan’s work. Rather, he said, “It’s because it was a big lump of gold.”

Here’s a fun visual to take you into the weekend…

Picture some guy dragging a solid gold toilet into a pawn shop — struggling to hold the door open with his foot as the gold toilet clangs and scrapes through the frame — and all the way up to the counter. Picture the owner of the pawn shop just watching him do it, barely looking up from his newspaper. Then picture the pawn shop owner lowballing him and thief trying to drag it back out in a huff.

I demand weekly updates about the gold toilet.

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