Cats has been an internet punchline since the first trailer was released earlier this year. The general consensus is that the movie looks creepy and weird. However, in a blockbuster landscape where big movies are designed to be as safe and audience-friendly as possible, Cats is a bold experiment that’s worth rooting for.
As my friend and colleague Jacob Trussell previously noted, the stage show has never been cool among theater purists. By extension, the movie probably won’t be considered hip among moviegoers. Cats is bound to divide folks, but the film is clearly marching to the beat of its own drum, and that’s commendable. That basically makes Cats cool.
Whether you think Cats looks clawful or purrfect, there’s no denying that it has people talking. Check out the latest trailer below and behold the cathletic and furmidable performances on display. You never know: purrhaps you’ll be more excited to go see the movie afterward.
The trailer opens with a shot of the city at night. The moon is full and purple hues light up the environment. This world is reminiscent of a ’90s Tim Burton movie, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The narrator (Judi Dench) reveals that “tonight is a special night.” On this evening, one of the cats will be chosen to ascend the Heaviside Layer and come back to life. The first creature that we’re introduced to is Victoria, who is played by Francesca Hayward in her feature debut.
Next up we meet Naoimh Morgan as Rumpleteazer. In the stage show, this kitty is a criminal who engages in petty thefts and mischief with Mungojerrie (played by Danny Collins in the movie).
Say hello to Bustopher Jones (James Corden), an Edwardian gentleman-esque fella who likes to visit private clubs, eat the finest foods, and live life to the fullest. Corden is inspired casting here, and this role will allow him to play to his strengths as a comic performer who embraces the absurd.
Here, we get our first glimpse of Idris Elba as Macavity, a master criminal with supernatural abilities who will serve as the villain of the piece.
Dench is Old Deuteronomy, a wise figure who has lived many lives in succession and is responsible for selecting which cat will ascend to the next life.
Glowing catnip? Well, we’ve seen it all meow. That said, this is a cool visual that adds to the strangeness of this world. This is what cinema is all about.
In this scene, Macavity appears and tells Victoria that “going to the ball could get dangerous.” Things have taken a sinister turn.
Here, we meet Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) as he springs out of a drawer carrying some oversized underwear. It remains to be seen if he plans on trying the garment on. Maybe he’ll use it as a parachute? The mystery is all the more reason to tune into this movie and find out what’s going on.
Taylor Swift is Bombalurina, and if you’re mad about this casting you need to calm down. Her character is a well-meaning cat with a mean streak, and she’s quite prone to engaging in flirtatious behavior.
Say hello to Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo), a rebellious cat who loves the limelight and wants to dance. Derulo appears to be having a freaking blast in this movie, and that energy is infectious.
Old Deuteronomy announces that she wants to choose a cat with soul. Macavity declares that he has “plenty of soul.” The look of shock on Elba’s face here is undoubtedly similar to the one he had when he found out that he’d been given this role of a lifetime.
Say what you will about this movie, but the message lit up in the sign above is admirable. This dream-chasing mindset is what led to movies like Cats being made in the first place.
“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” This movie can’t resist a good cat pun, which is fitting since it’s a film about cats. However, as the wise Liz Baessler pointed out in our Slack channel debate, “If one cat says to another cat “cat got your tongue?” in a society ruled by cats, what is it really saying?” Purrhaps this will make the cats look dumb. Or maybe it will explore some deeper existential themes.
Cue all the social media comedians making jokes about Corden finding the Cats script in a similar garbage can. But will they still find it funny when Corden and Cats are laughing all the way to the bank?
Jennifer Hudson and Ian McKellen are also in this movie. Hudson plays Grizabella, a cat who seeks re-acceptance to the tribe. McKellen, meanwhile, portrays Gus the Theater Cat, a shabby old fella who no longer scares mice or rats.
Rounding off the impressive cast is Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots. The character is a lazy cat who comes alive at night, and we can bet on her doing some tap dancing. In the trailer, she refers to herself as “the crazy cat lady,” which poses another interesting question that Liz brought up: “If cat Rebel Wilson calls herself ‘a crazy cat lady,’ is she really calling herself a crazy lady lady, or a crazy cat cat?”
The trailer ends with Macavity smiling and saying, “I love it.” However, he might as well be speaking for audience members who give this movie a chance and let its charming powers overtake them.
Cats will hit theaters on December 20th and compete against Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for box office dominance.