Cats

Cats ★★★★★

It's December 2019 and I'm walking through the canopy of Christmas lights at the Glendale Americana. I'm meeting my three friends in the lobby of the Pacific Theatres to watch Cats, a movie none of us expect to be good at all. I bought cat ears headbands for all of us to wear. I anticipate many quiet whisper-quips and eye-rolling glances across the row while the premium nightmare juice is thrown in our faces. But instead something much better happens.

As we sit in our seats and survey our neighbors, it becomes abundantly clear that we are all here with the same intention, in the same headspace, with the same mix of morbid curiosity and post-irony glee. Before a single frame of footage rolls, we start chanting "CATS CATS CATS CATS"

We are whooping and screaming and groaning and guffawing and clapping and singing and dancing in the face of this act of cinematic malevolence. Each successive song unhinges our minds even further, a cumulative effect of joyful madness. We are sinking further into the abyss, with nothing to hold onto but each others hands on the way down, and we are holding TIGHT.

In this theater, we don't know it but we have created a new ritual that surely will persist in theaters across the world for years to come. A ritual in which people perform their distaste via absolute external ecstasy and emotional catharsis, rendering the distinction between "good" and "bad" a useless construct. This ritual is called CATSlighting.

We dance out of the theater floating on the contagious disbelief of how wonderful we all feel.

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CATS is without a doubt the greatest movie-going experience of my life. No words or grainy video or retelling of the tale could ever fully encapsulate the sensation of being fully alive and connected with 40 strangers in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Sometimes the goal of a film isn't to explain the world or interrogate your heart or exist as a monument to itself. Sometimes the purest value of film is as a mere pretense for being with people you want to be with. Maybe hell isn't such a bad place to go if we can all go together.

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