james corden in cats

Remember Cats? The nightmarish film adaptation of the hit musical feels as if it hit theaters 100 years ago, but it was actually only six months. Since then, real-life horrors have superseded those of the digital fur variety, but that doesn’t mean Andrew Lloyd Webber is ready to let bygones be bygones. The composer recently recorded a commentary track for the filmed 1998 stage version of Cats, and in the process, had some less-than-charitable things to say about the recent movie adaptation – specifically James Corden‘s performance as Bustopher Jones.

This story starts off on a bit of a sad note: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s cat Mika was run over and killed last month. Sorry, sorry, I know that’s bleak, but context is important. Anyway, Webber decided to record a commentary track for the filmed 1998 stage version of Cats in Mika’s memory, during which he threw some shade at James Corden’s comic relief portrayal of very fat cat Bustopher Jones. Corden is clearly doing a lot of off-the-cuff improv in the part, throwing out one-liners and quips that never quite land. And Webber took exception to that.

“Bustopher without interruption, as I wrote it,” Webber said, referring to the 1998 version of the character. “Do not be beguiled by other versions. Other versions with unfunny interpolations which I begged to be cut out. I did manage to get the worst of them removed. I cannot tell you how absolutely un-[T.S.] Eliot it all was in this song.”

Webber doesn’t mention Corden by name, of course, but it’s very clear who he’s referring to. To be fair to Corden, I don’t think the terrible Bustopher Jones performance is really his fault. A good director would’ve noticed how badly the constant quipping was going over and trimmed it down. But Tom Hooper was apparently all-in on whatever Corden was doing.

Corden has commented on the notorious film in the past. “I haven’t seen it, I’ve heard it’s terrible,” Corden said on a BBC Radio 2 show around the time of the film’s release. Later, Corden added that while the movie may have failed, he has good memories of making it:

“So, 1 is the least and 10 is the most. Well, here’s the thing, I had the loveliest time making that film. It took me six days and I loved every single second of it. So, I think you’ve got to be careful not to… you’ve got to decide things on your own personal experience, and I had a really great time. So, I don’t regret doing it at all because I decided to do it in the same way I decided to do many things. Some have worked, some haven’t. So, I’m gonna put it at a solid 5… 4.5, 4.5.”

That’s fair. But you know who doesn’t have good memories of the Cats movie? Andrew Lloyd Webber, that’s who. At the time of the writing of this story, Webber had yet to comment on how horny all the cats were in the Cats movie.

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