NME Festival blog: Six troubling questions raised by the ‘Cats’ trailer that’s giving the world complicated felines today

How big is a cat? “Oh god, I don’t know?! A bit smaller than a knife and fork?!”

A new star-studded adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats musical hits screens in December. Helmed by Tom Hooper, director of the Oscar-winning film version of Les Misérables, the film also comes with an all-star cast, including Sir Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo and Rebel Wilson. On paper, there’s little that could go wrong. However, the first trailer is… quite something. Watch it for yourself now:

Prompting a unique blend of disgust and ridicule, nobody really knows what to make of this new Cats remake. Some people have compared it to George Galloway famously pretending to be a cat in Celebrity Big Brother, and Mr G’s cat performance in Summer Heights High. Others wondered if the film was a preview into the secrets housed within Area 51.

Trailers are meant to be a first glimpse into what to expect, but at the end of this one…. well. Let’s just say we have a few questions.

Why is Judi Dench wearing a coat made out of her own fur?

What on earth did Dame Judi Dench – a true national treasure – do in another life to deserve this fate? Dench’s depiction of Old Deuteronomy doesn’t just have normal fur, oh no. Like the original Old Deuteronomy, from T.S Eliot’s poetry book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Dench’s version wears a coat. However, this is where the twist arrives. She is wearing a coat made out of… cat fur. 

This is a very disturbing revelation, no matter which way you look at it. Are we to believe that she has sprouted a secondary layer of skin – sort of like a marsupial’s pouch – which she wears pulled around her shoulders like a fleshy cape or gigantic furry foreskin? Or, more sinister still, has Old Deuteronomy been skulking in the middle of the night and skinning members of the Jellicle tribe in order to sew together this sordid coat, piece by piece? The bottom line is this: cats just shouldn’t wear coats made out of cat fur. It’s like feeding a chicken a 20-pack of McNuggets. 

Cats musical film taylor swift 2019

Cats/ Universal Pictures

Why have they tried to make the cats sexy?

In some ways, it’s a blessing that director Tom Hooper has used a bit of creative license when it comes to turning his cast into cats. On top of everything else, just try to imagine this spectacle, combined with the added horror of all of the characters having semi-visible cat bumholes. With this in mind, it seems sensible to go for something a little bit anthropomorphic. Except – and let’s just cut straight to the chase, here – WHY DO THE CATS HAVE BREASTS?!

Is this meant to be sexy?! Are these strange beings, in fact, furries? And exactly how many boardroom meetings do you think were held to determine the correct amount of jiggle for these horrible cat breasts? Far too many meetings. 

If Hooper is so certain that all the cats in his film need tiddies, he should stop being such a coward. At the very least, do the job properly and give all of the female cats six to eight nipples in the name of realism. Change the title of the biggest show-tune to ‘Mammary’, and own it. 

Cats musical film taylor swift 2019

Cats/ Universal Pictures

What is Jennifer Hudson doing?

Because Jennifer Hudson plays Grizabella – a glamour cat who has fallen on hard times, and has been shunned by all of her cat pals – she is therefore tasked with performing one of Cats’ best known show-tunes. Now, if there’s anybody out there who’s up to belting out ‘Memory’ it is most certainly Jennifer Hudson – this woman has pipes. Being realistic, she’s probably the only vocalist on the cast capable of scaling the song’s climactic key changes. Peering into her eyes, they’re filled with sadness; she’s fully aware that she is carrying the entire production

Rising to the challenge, it sort of feels like Hudson’s going for the dramatic jugular, here, channelling the strife of a penniless street urchin sleeping underneath an elephant statue in Les Misérables, or Nancy dying to save Oliver from a ring of pick-pockets in Oliver! Except there’s not really much at stake here, is there – apart from a terrifyingly rendered CGI cat who has no mates. To be fair, I’d really like to erase this trailer from my ‘Memory’. 

Cats musical film taylor swift 2019

Cats/ Universal Pictures

Why is Bustopher Jones a rowdy lad?

Why does James Corden’s character nonchalantly spew all over fellow cast member and Royal Ballet dancer Francesca Hayward without so much as an apology? Why does he seem like the sort of person who might refer to said vomit as a “tactical chunder”? And thirdly, why on earth does he roar “here we go… ha ha!” with the fervour of a sesh lad downing four consecutive shots of apple sourz while chanting the rowdy hook from ‘Chelsea Dagger’ by The Fratellis? I don’t have any answers to this one.

Cats musical film taylor swift 2019

Cats/ Universal Pictures

Is Jason Derulo ok?

And will he begin every scene with his trademark catchphrase…. “Jassssooon Derulo”?

Cats musical film taylor swift 2019

Cats/ Universal Pictures

Has anybody involved ever seen a cat before?

As a kid I stupidly imagined that wombats were sweet little creatures, about the same size as a guinea pig. As I later learned the hard way, it turns out that wombats are wicked beasts who take every chance they can to try on piss all over your legs. They’re also MASSIVE UNITS. I can’t be sure, but perhaps whoever designed the cats in this film was subject to a similar kind of confusion. Maybe they knew roughly what a cat looks like, but in terms of how big? “Oh god, I don’t know?! A bit smaller than a knife and fork?!”

Cats musical film taylor swift 2019

Cats / Universal Pictures

It’s the only feasible explanation for these minuscule, gangly cats, who roll all over the set’s over-sized furnishings like a swarm of limber ferrets with grotesquely muscular bodies. Tiny, tiny, muscular bodies, with gnarled human hands, clutching at gigantic cutlery, and writhing around on enormous double beds. Shudder. 


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