Cats the Musical: 2019 ‘Live Action’ Movie trailer [SLYT 2min 41sec]
July 18, 2019 3:14 PM   Subscribe

“ MEEEEEEEEEEEEMORY! .. ..” It’s a trailer, for the Live Action Movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical about Cats.

Dancing!!
Cats?
CGI!!

And James Corden for some unknown reason.
posted by Faintdreams (256 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
The major reactions from twitter have been

“They built huge sets they could scamper around in! They are taking this deadly seriously! If nothing e,see this should be an entertaining disaster!”:

And

“...Which Furry was behind this?”
posted by The Whelk at 3:20 PM on July 18 [12 favorites]


It's not that it's all CGI instead of spandex and leg warmers.

It's that the CGI IS BAD.

Faces are just floating there on too small heads.

And that last shot, of them all together, outside, in the sunlight? It looks like the cutscene from a PS3 era MMO.
posted by thecjm at 3:20 PM on July 18 [16 favorites]


DIGITAL FUR TECHNOLOGY 🐱
posted by rather be jorting at 3:22 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I just closed my eyes and listened to Jennifer Hudson sing.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:23 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


I saw this trailer pop up on a social media feed earlier today, and it prompted me to walk over to my wife's office and pre-emptively declare that as much as I love her and our son, and as flexible as I try to be about our movie selections, there is absolutely no way on God's green earth that she's going to get me to watch any permutation of Cats ever again, and that perhaps we should all just start coming to terms with this now before it becomes an issue later this year.
posted by vverse23 at 3:23 PM on July 18 [30 favorites]


Forget that, I’m going to see The Amazing Alexander again.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:25 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Once, when I was 5, I had a terrible viral infection and ended up with 104 fever and was in the hospital, completely hallucinating and crying.

AND OH MY FREAKING GOD THIS WAS MY EXACT FEVER NIGHTMARE.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:26 PM on July 18 [30 favorites]


What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:26 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


I'm so in. I'm going to stock up on recreational Benedryl and watch the crap outta this.
posted by mochapickle at 3:26 PM on July 18 [22 favorites]


The trailer for Top Gun Too also came out and the CGI in it is excellent. The detail on those jets, especially all of the contrails, is top notch. (Unless the US Navy actually let them put Tom Cruise in an F-18 and fly it over some mountains)
posted by thecjm at 3:27 PM on July 18


The Muse yesterday: Will Cats Be the Greatest Movie of Our Generation?
The Muse today: This Is Obscene
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:29 PM on July 18 [15 favorites]


Why can't I stop rewinding James Corden's little "here we go! ha ha!" tummy bump
posted by theodolite at 3:30 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


There's going to be a lot of pornography of this. I mean. there's probably already a lot, but there's going to be a LOT.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:30 PM on July 18 [31 favorites]


I imagine there was a point in the production everyone knew this was a disaster but it was too late to stop it.

It looks terrible in a way I didn't expect it to look terrible (and I was expecting it to look terrible). I don't even know what I just watched or who decided any of this was a good idea. So many choices were made and all of them were wrong!

I admit to being excited by how bad this looks because I am a bad person. I do really feel bad for everyone who has to spend the next 5 months promoting it, though.
posted by darksong at 3:32 PM on July 18 [14 favorites]


Why did the make Dame Judy Dench’s face so teeny tiny?
posted by Faintdreams at 3:33 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


I can't wait til someone edits Mike Myers into the trailer.
posted by Catblack at 3:34 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


The best response I've seen is Lindsay Ellis's, and it sums up my thoughts so much more eloquently than I ever could:

GET ON THE COCAINE-FUELED ROCKET TRAIN TO UNCANNY MEOW MEOW TOWN CHOO CHOO MOTHERFUCKERS
posted by tclark at 3:34 PM on July 18 [48 favorites]


You haven’t really seen Cats until you’ve experienced it in the original dinner theater format.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:34 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


This trailer is like the alien invasion in Watchmen - a terrible, desperate way to unite the warring nations of Earth against a single foe.
posted by adrianhon at 3:34 PM on July 18 [23 favorites]


There are many better musicals out there in basically every other possible way, but give me an entire musical of cats singing about being cats, and yes, I will go see whatever version of it is available, even though I don't even follow pop music enough to know who most of these people are. It's not that I think it will be good. I just know I'm going to see it. Because it's Cats.
posted by Sequence at 3:34 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


I'm just here for the inevitable "400 animators remake the film in wildly disjointed 15 second segments" remake in 5-10 years.

There's going to be a lot of pornography of this.

I mean really the impressive thing is that there's a this now of all that pornography.
posted by cortex at 3:36 PM on July 18 [18 favorites]


Every day we stray further from the light of the lord
posted by adrianhon at 3:38 PM on July 18 [25 favorites]


The only thing I love about this is that the Top Gun sequel also appeared online today, but all anyone I know can talk about is the Cats trailer, so T. Cruise must be FUMING that he’s been upstaged by a bunch of terrible CGI cats, in a Live Action musical, based on a long form poem, from 80 years ago!
posted by Faintdreams at 3:38 PM on July 18 [26 favorites]


I haven't seen Cats and I don't really like musicals, so I feel pretty well qualified to not like this, but there's so much not liking to do I'm glad there's a lot of other people willing to help me.
posted by aubilenon at 3:39 PM on July 18 [13 favorites]


This looks so terrible. I will definitely listen to the Jennifer Hudson single of “Memory.” Other than that I don’t even want to see the preview again. In the stage show, was the set oversized so that the cat-people were cat-sized? For some reason I always imagined it as human-sized-cats in terms of scale.

Just...WHO ASKED FOR THIS?
posted by sallybrown at 3:42 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


I chose "The Naming of Cats" for one of my oral interpretation assignments in theatre class and climbed down off the stage on all fours and walked across my classmates on the armrests while reciting it, so I am extremely here for this. (Yes, eponysterical.)
posted by jocelmeow at 3:43 PM on July 18 [29 favorites]


It's a collection of poetry, not long-form. The surprising part is how much ALW didn't fuck up the original poems, though he did definitely funk them some.

Also, here's an unpopular opinion about this largely maligned show: "Memory" stinks. I'd rather listen to literally any other song from that show. I've felt like that since I was, like, ten. Granted, I learned The Addressing of Cats, Gus the Theater Cat, and, I think, Bustopher Jones on the piano around that age too, so, in conclusion, my upbringing was weird I guess.
posted by Caduceus at 3:44 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


I think it's important to remember that this isn't for us, really. It's for horny 13 year olds who need a safe outlet. In other words Jason Derulo cat can get it.

In the stage show, was the set oversized so that the cat-people were cat-sized?

IIRC usually the set is abstracted, but definitely oversized, garbage.
posted by muddgirl at 3:45 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER MUST ANSWER FOR HIS CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
posted by um at 3:45 PM on July 18 [17 favorites]


There are at least one or two self described furries on the site. Maybe not be jerks?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:53 PM on July 18 [21 favorites]


Oh, I remember what it is that's making this feel so familiar. Remember the Sonic The Hedgehog trailer? That's why this conversation is giving me deja vu. I think the best way to fix this movie up is to swap in the Sonic The Hedgehog 3d model. For ALL the characters.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:56 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Whole lot of stuff to goofily dunk on about this media spectacular, but, yeah, let's not make crapping on people just for being furries part of that.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on July 18 [18 favorites]


This looks so bad it might retroactively redeem Baz Luhmann’s entire career.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:57 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


halp
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:58 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


There's going to be a lot of pornography of this. I mean. there's probably already a lot, but there's going to be a LOT.

Cat-Scan Jammer 1: I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:59 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


This looks terrible, yet I will end up paying money to see it.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:59 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


OMG

NORMALLY MY OPINION OF CATS IS THE ONE IN UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT BUT THIS HAS TAYLOR SWIFT YALL!!!!!!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:01 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Honestly this is how they should have done the Lion King movie.
posted by RobotHero at 4:02 PM on July 18 [22 favorites]


Also: the dancing looks legit, they better not pull a fast one on me and give me shit dancing à la Chicago.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:02 PM on July 18


WELL!

I see they have made some decisions!

Yessirree.

Made some... choices.

With gusto.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:03 PM on July 18 [42 favorites]


TS invented modernism so we could have this. Be grateful you unworthy mice.
posted by Think_Long at 4:08 PM on July 18 [24 favorites]


So I know it ran for, like, forever and a day in London and NYC but... is Cats actually all that good? It's kind of schmaltzy but maybe that's the expect vibe for a Lloyd-Webber musical.

I mean, I get that the songs are themselves good, but as a whole is the musical actually good as opposed to merely popular?

Also, yes, the effects in this are in the uncanniest of valleys.
posted by GuyZero at 4:09 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Nope.
posted by biscotti at 4:09 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Okay, so I went and watched the Top Gun Deux trailer and there's a quick cut shot to an actress who looks a teensy bit like Aubrey Plaza (she's wearing a helmet, and it was only a second before I realized my error, and sadly it isn't her but if it were could you just imagine?).

And so between this and a too-briefly yet gloriously imagined Top Gun where Aubrey Plaza inexplicably but inevitably becomes deadpanning best friends with Tom Cruise ("Uggh, the same aviator shades and motorcycle schtick for 30 years, Mav? Aren't you long overdue for at least an inkling of character growth by now? Even for you, loser? I'm so BORED."), I was getting pretty excited to buy me some movie tickets.
posted by mochapickle at 4:10 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


And I wonder if they just straight filmed this with Snapchat or that new FaceApp or something. Why bother with post when you can get it right in the camera the first time?
posted by GuyZero at 4:11 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


“...Which Furry was behind this?”

Nonsense. Furries are in the business of making animal characters that look cute and fun (and sexy). Did you see any of that in the trailer? I sure didn't. Nobody in this production has even heard of a furry before.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:14 PM on July 18 [21 favorites]


> "The surprising part is how much ALW didn't fuck up the original poems"

I heard that he literally wasn't allowed to under the terms of his deal with Esmé Valerie Eliot.
posted by kyrademon at 4:15 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


> "... is Cats actually all that good?"

No.
posted by kyrademon at 4:16 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


no
posted by Reyturner at 4:16 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I think the thing that makes me most angry is like, they have human hands and feet? So they could have just worn costumes/makeup? But then maybe none of those stars would have agreed to sit in wig/makeup for 3 hours every morning?
posted by muddgirl at 4:19 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I was too cool to go see Cats on Broadway when I was 20, but streaming? ...fuck yeah, why not?
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:19 PM on July 18


My question is, is there a way they can show this...at the Wintergarden Theater?

...now and forever...
posted by cobaltnine at 4:19 PM on July 18 [11 favorites]


1. This looks really hilariably not good.

2. Fact number one did not stop this trailer from making me cry my eyes out, though. This fucking musical was my mother's jam FOR FUCKING YEARS (I namechecked it in her obit) and I guess I just hadn't really thought about it or heard it in the three years since mom died.

3. I hope Judi and Ian got large piles of cash.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:21 PM on July 18 [14 favorites]


Not great, not terrible
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:22 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Are we calling every film that isn't 100% animated "live action" now?
posted by Brocktoon at 4:22 PM on July 18 [11 favorites]


“...Which Furry was behind this?”

Nonsense. Furries are in the business of making animal characters that look cute and fun (and sexy). Did you see any of that in the trailer? I sure didn't. Nobody in this production has even heard of a furry before.

As an official card-carrying furry, and speaking at least on behalf of my small twitter crowd: We have thought at great length about how to make anthropomorphic animals cute, sexy, or at least not falling into a terrible uncanny valley. It's what we do.

There is no evidence of such thought here. It makes me want to start a consulting service.
posted by solarion at 4:24 PM on July 18 [94 favorites]


Behind the Scenes Featurette!

(Vulture calls it "deadly earnest." NYT: "widely mocked.")
posted by mochapickle at 4:31 PM on July 18




I've been seeing the same flavor of knee-jerk reactions to CATS, all the way back to 1981, when this whole thing started. the original stage production got some of the most bilious, vitriolic reviews I've ever read, yet it ran for 21 years in London and 18 on Broadway, and it's STILL running in Japan after 35 years. People have dunked on it in every conceivable smug, shrill, condescending, hateful way imaginable, yet it just keeps on going. They've made movie versions before, and this one is just the latest. It's not going to go away. Ever.

I wish people could learn to just let shit go and let people like what they like.
posted by KHAAAN! at 4:31 PM on July 18 [20 favorites]


I mean, I get there are a lot of negative hot takes floating around, but some of the early reviews are pretty positive:

"...loved it...better than Cats (the play)...see it again and again!"
posted by The Tensor at 4:32 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


The cats look too much like naked human people. Instead of CGI maybe they should have gone with a more lo fi thing similar to the costumes in the musical.
posted by sallybrown at 4:32 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


Dunking on Cats is a proud and storied tradition going back generations. Why would we all stop now?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:33 PM on July 18 [30 favorites]


"Where the hell are the singin' cats?" Don't bother, they're heeeeeere...

Trailer looks fine to me, heads are normal, it just looks weird because they just shooped off the hunan ears.

And Rebel Wilson as a happy plump little kitty is delightful.

Now if they could add a comic-relief scene like this but with Dame Judy, I can die a happy lil' zaixfeep.
posted by zaixfeep at 4:35 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Cats has one of the strangest trailers I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their mo-cap rigs, or why.
posted by adrianhon at 4:39 PM on July 18 [15 favorites]


Simone de Rochefort for Polygon explains: What the hell is Cats. "We do not yet know the long-term effects of Cats on the children who discovered it on VHS, but speaking only for myself, it made me bisexual."
posted by Caduceus at 4:44 PM on July 18 [23 favorites]


Memory is a bad song, and I never want to hear it again.

Back in the day I sent around the world to other Cats fanbois to collect CD bootlegs of the soundtracks from half a dozen different productions, including Japan (in Japanese). I had the book. I've seen the show live twice in two different productions. I've seen the video at least 50 times. I followed the blogs of a touring group. I wanted to play Munkustrap.

And Memory is a bad song, and I never want to hear it again.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:45 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


I am here for this; I love musicals; I'm simultaneously happy that it's happening and looking forward to a good-natured "dunk on Cats" situation, but I will say this: heaven save us from musicals directed by Tom Hooper. Jennifer Hudson is one of the greatest singers of our generation, and the "Memory" take that they used for this sounds... not up to her normal standards? It's making me worried that he did the "vocals recorded on set" thing like in Les Miserables, which IMO was a giant mistake that led to vocal performances that were less than their theoretical best. Does anybody know what approach they took for this one?
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 4:47 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I unironically love my original cast recording. You can pry my ALW musicals from the cold dead hands of my inner 12-year-old. Haters gonna hate.

there is still no reason for this particular movie to exist tho
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:48 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I am REALLY looking forward to it.
posted by diane47 at 4:51 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


and it's STILL running in Japan after 35 years

True, my daughters saw it in Osaka last year and loved it. I've mostly been an anti-musical dude growing up, and Cats is a particularly weird one, but I was finally won over on Cats this spring when we took the girls to a local Japanese elementary drama club's free performance of the play. They did full costumes, full stage sets, and a couple of the 6th-grade leads seriously nailed their songs.

Seeing through kids eyes, and maybe particularly in Japan where they're a bit more sincere and less cynical, I get that it doesn't need a story and is just a positive exploration of imagination using animals and random sets to explore complex ideas about family, life and death, etc, not unlike My Neighbor, Totoro (which I also used to dislike for not having any real plot but have since learned to love).
posted by p3t3 at 4:53 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


People have dunked on it in every conceivable smug, shrill, condescending, hateful way imaginable, yet it just keeps on going.

yeah I get it and honestly I don't want to dunk on Cats just for the sake of competitive dunking, but I just don't get the appeal. It's fine for people to like it, I don't think it's not possible to like it, I just don't completely get why it's the most popular Broadway musical of all time. Like I'd take anything by Rodgers and Hammerstein over Lloyd-Webber but whatever, chacun à son goût.

Did people just go see it because it was really popular and ended up being confused but with really good...

MEMORIES

ALL ALONE IN THE MOONLIGHT

...
posted by GuyZero at 4:55 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


I was in a children's choir, once, a long time ago. We performed "Memory" almost every single show. And practiced it a whole lot. For YEARS. 4 years of practicing and performing the musical equivalent of warm soup.

I hate that f'ing song.
posted by fiercekitten at 4:55 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


The uncatty valley.
posted by nickggully at 4:56 PM on July 18 [13 favorites]


This looks *exactly* as what I imagined Cats to be, which is why I've never seen cats.
posted by dobbs at 4:58 PM on July 18 [11 favorites]


66 Questions About the ‘Cats’ Trailer. First question: What fresh hell is this?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:59 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


> "Haters gonna hate."

Technically, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.
posted by kyrademon at 5:09 PM on July 18 [44 favorites]


Andrew Durso tweets:
my take: the cats trailer is how musicals look to non-theater people all the time and this is all the theater people realizing that and having an existential crisis
posted by tzikeh at 5:10 PM on July 18 [67 favorites]


I REALLY don't like CGI butt-crack tails.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:10 PM on July 18 [17 favorites]


re: Top Gun, I found the trailer freakin delightful because at a certain point is was so silly and over the top 80s that I just started imagining it as a play by Max Fischer in Rushmore and when Cruise at the end says "Maybe so sir, but not today." all I could see what Jason Schwartzman in aviator glasses and it was glorious.
posted by gwint at 5:11 PM on July 18 [10 favorites]


I grew up in a family that loved musical theater, and learning to love them too was as much a part of my upbringing as learning to love macaroni and cheese. But I never warmed to Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. It's not just Cats, honestly can't really stand any of them. There is a lot to appreciate and even respect, but nothing there for my heart to like. So even if this was a brilliant, flawless production, I'd still give it a miss just because of that. (And regardless of that, I do not think less of any of you for loving ALW musicals dearly.)

Now, with that said and my biases clear: I looked at some screen grabs of the trailer. They have left me with a lingering thought of, "People were paid to do this?"
posted by ardgedee at 5:20 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


The ONLY thing I want from the Top Gun: Maverick movie is a brief explanation for how Maverick avoided the "up or out" promotion system in the US military (like seriously, there are no 50 year old captains in the US Air Force). I just want to know that some producer gave the writers a note on this plot hole and those poor writers had to sit down and figure out some dumb way to lampshade it.
posted by muddgirl at 5:31 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


It's too bad this looks so terrible, because there are some extremely interesting dancers in here, including one ex-New York City Ballet principal (Robert Fairchild) and two current Royal Ballet principals (Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:31 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


(or rather, there are no 50 year old captains with a stellar 25-year air force career)
posted by muddgirl at 5:32 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I would argue that the original cartoon version of this was better.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:33 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]




“This holiday season... You will believe.”

Okay, but believe what?
posted by nickmark at 5:39 PM on July 18 [12 favorites]


Given the absolutely bonkers lengths Tom Cruise went to in Mission Impossible: Fallout in learning how to stunt-fly a helicopter all in the name of 30 seconds of footage in which you can see what is clearly him stunt-flying a helicopter I wouldn't put it past him to now be an actual jet pilot too.
posted by um at 5:40 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


“In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find“

Oops... wrong Mungo Jerry.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:42 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


Tonight in trailers, I saw Top Gun II: A New Wrinkle. Then I saw Cats, and I agree with every word of this thread.

And then I saw this. The trailer for the Banana Splits movie.

I have been a life-long proponent of legal pot. Having seen what it has wrought in less than three years in Hollywood, I recant and abjure my wayward stance forthwith.
posted by Devonian at 5:44 PM on July 18 [12 favorites]


And then I saw this. The trailer for the Banana Splits movie.

...the Banana Splits were humans in costumes. WTF is this moving saying about the Banana Splits? I mean clearly it's a FNAF property that they hastily reskinned without any thought at all.
posted by muddgirl at 5:48 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I wanted to be able to like this, but holy CGI uncanny valley, I am unnerved.
posted by pemberkins at 5:53 PM on July 18


Live-action “Starlight Express” is gonna be ON FLEEK!
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:56 PM on July 18 [13 favorites]


>And then I saw this. The trailer for the Banana Splits movie.

When they reboot Uncle Croc then you know the end times are near.
posted by Catblack at 6:06 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Needs moar Tituss Burgess.
posted by Frayed Knot at 6:16 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


If Danny John Jules doesn't have at least a cameo in this, it had better be because he turned it down, and not because the filmmakers didn't offer him a role.
posted by cheshyre at 6:28 PM on July 18 [16 favorites]


Yiiiikes.
posted by yeahyeahrealcute at 6:51 PM on July 18


Also: the dancing looks legit,

The dancing does look legit, and yet, by virtue of the whole uncanny valley naked people with thinly and weirdly applied digital catness superimposed upon them thing, the dancing is somehow more creepy to me than the dancing in the Suspiria remake, where dancing = grisly murder spells.
posted by yasaman at 6:54 PM on July 18 [7 favorites]


I saw a touring production of Cats as a kid. Kinda creeped me out (I've always had a phobia of heavy makeup. Like an early version of the uncanny valley. Halloween is my enemy). I fell asleep pretty early in the second act, but my dad bought the soundtrack and I used to play it in his car quite a lot. Rum Tum Tugger. Macavity. Bustopher Jones was my jam. It's been years and I have no particular desire to see it again. Especially this monstrosity.
posted by downtohisturtles at 7:01 PM on July 18


I watched the new trailer for “It: Chapter 2” and then this immediately after and I think “It: Cats” is a movie I really want to see.
posted by kerf at 7:06 PM on July 18


So I know it ran for, like, forever and a day in London and NYC but... is Cats actually all that good?

It really, really is not. I saw it recently and commented on it somewhere, and I don't even know that I want to revisit it. Suffice to say: it is a musical that basically has no plot (you can find the tiniest one if you try real hard but it's so thin as to be transparent) and is mostly an excuse for a bunch of disconnected dance numbers that aren't very good.

My wife literally turned to me at intermission and said "what the fuck did we just watch?". Half the audience did not return for act 2, and we kinda wished we'd taken their lead.
posted by tocts at 7:08 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Not really being a musical theater person I was confused by the huge reaction, but I see others have summed it up.

This looks *exactly* as what I imagined Cats to be, which is why I've never seen cats.

my take: the cats trailer is how musicals look to non-theater people all the time and this is all the theater people realizing that and having an existential crisis


I was expecting something, I guess weirder, from the reaction but my thought after watching the trailer was basically "Isn't that what 'Cats' is and don't people really like it?"

posted by bongo_x at 7:12 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Another piece of note - most of the female characters are nude or nude-ish. The male characters are mostly dressed.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:14 PM on July 18 [15 favorites]


And then I saw this. yt The trailer for the Banana Splits movie.

Every day now I think "That's it, I'm done with this shit" and then every day it's a new WTF?
posted by bongo_x at 7:16 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


This trailer makes me excited for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie.
posted by parliboy at 7:24 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


I'm looking forward to this and I am not ashamed.
posted by lhauser at 7:28 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


There is a film adaptation of the musical Cats already out there [YT Playlist], and it's basically a filming of the musical. And it's fun if a bit clunky as such things can turn out to be. I'd recommend it, though.

Describing Cats even as a musical is a bit odd. It's plotless. It's basically a dance and song recital with a very loose frame. It's show off time for costumes, set design, and what people can do with their bodies when they know how to move them.

I've actually seen Cats 3 times in English and once in German. Back in the 80s when it was much more hip to like. And the songs are really great. Very catchy and fun. But there is no plot. Like, basically zero, none.

From what little I've read about this project, they've created a plot. I fear that is going to ruin the entire experience.

They are a little weird looking, but really they're pretty much in proportion, especially when shown in silhouette.

I haven't heard much from the furry community about this yet, but I'll keep my eyes open. They were all YAY for Pikachu and all ACK about Sonic... we'll see how they feel about this.
posted by hippybear at 7:31 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I know Top Gun in all of its forms is fascist propganda, but glenn powell without a shirt on makes me forgive many sins.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:32 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Tim Burton’s Avatar has more dancing than I would have thought.
posted by rodlymight at 7:35 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


The trailer for the Banana Splits movie.

Please note at the end of the trailer it says "Look for it on Blu-Ray and Digital," so I'm assuming this won't hit the theaters? Unless it already has and I somehow missed that fact?
posted by tzikeh at 7:38 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


BTW I will not be looking for it on Blu-Ray and Digital what the fuck what the fuck
posted by tzikeh at 7:38 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


I’m not, and never really have been a fan of musicals, though I get that people love them, so, well, okay. But it does kind of sadden me/weird me out that of all things this is T. S. Eliot’s most recognized and lasting work.

It’s like if Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for directing Speed 3, Monorail to Destruction (“this summer, action is on a rail... to excitement!)
posted by Ghidorah at 7:39 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


Lindsay Ellis (previously) did an excellent 41-minute video essay on why the Phantom of the Opera movie was so bad. The main conclusion was that Sir Andrew doesn’t understand film, but wanted to make the artistic decisions himself rather than let someone do it who does understand film.

(Ellis is also not a big fan of Les Misérables (2012), which like Cats (2019) was directed by Tom Hooper.)
posted by mbrubeck at 7:42 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


I am so close to volunteering to take all my friends' children. I think I am okay with either seeing Cats, or never babysitting ever again.
posted by mersen at 7:46 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


I have never seen Cats and as far as I know Memory is the only song from it that I know. People say that it's cheezy but isn't that just a playful sincerity and doesn't playful sincerity come off as assholishness most of the time? That's been my relationship with my cats. Maybe they nailed it. I wish that they had gone with ridiculous costumes and makeup rather than uncanny, but that's just one guy's opinion.

I do know that my Cat Lady group will be there on opening night in our cat shirts and pins, the same way we did to the International Internet Cat Video Film Festival and we will not be alone and we will have a grand old time however terrible the fim.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:52 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


In other cat news, my meez has been wanting me to toss crumpled pipecleaners but he doesn't understand that part of the game of fetch is actually returning said pipecleaner to the thrower.
posted by jjray at 7:55 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


The costumes and stuff are in my link earlier.
posted by hippybear at 7:55 PM on July 18


Oh oh oh! Don't just crumple the pipe cleaners, roll them around your finger into a little spring!
posted by hippybear at 7:56 PM on July 18 [6 favorites]


I’m not, and never really have been a fan of musicals, though I get that people love them, so, well, okay.

To be clear, I am a huge fan of musicals, and I go to them a lot. Cats is bar none the worst mainstream musical theater experience I've had in the 30 or so years I've been a fan of them. Hell, it's the worst even if I include non-musical live theater. It pains me to think of anyone seeing it as their first show, not understanding that it is not remotely representative of what the medium is capable of.
posted by tocts at 7:57 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


As another person who never got into musicals, it wasn't until I read the thread that I realized that this was seen as bad. I just thought that's what CATS was, and that people who like musicals would watch the trailer and think, "Looks awesome, can't wait!" So I'm kind of surprised to see the negative reaction. Not because I personally think it looks good, but because I assumed CATS fans would think it looks good.

Personally, I hope that either:
  • It's actually great, and people who like CATS love it. Because why wouldn't I want people to enjoy something?
  • It's actually so terrible that it's fun for people who dislike CATS to watch/make jokes about. Because that's also people enjoying themselves.
The worst would be if it were just kinda OK or kinda bad, not bringing anyone enjoyment.

Also, I would love love love love love to hear Paul F. Tompkins discuss the movie while in character as Andrew Lloyd Webber.
posted by Bugbread at 8:10 PM on July 18 [8 favorites]


The tiny slice of furry twitter that I have on my feed is entirely unsure what to make of the movie. They find the character design peculiar but they admire the tails and the concept if not the execution.
posted by hippybear at 8:16 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


What is the consensus about the human hands? Like, I think it looks super wrong based on the nine times I have watched the trailer so far, but then I think of paws instead and it's so much worse.
posted by mochapickle at 8:20 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


"The surprising part is how much ALW didn't fuck up the original poems"

Webber completely fucked up the rhythm of Macavity the Mystery Cat. I knew that poem from English O level and was shocked by the massacre.
posted by w0mbat at 8:27 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


Perhaps you had a very eccentric teacher?
posted by hippybear at 8:29 PM on July 18


"The surprising part is how much ALW didn't fuck up the original poems"

Webber completely fucked up the rhythm of Macavity the Mystery Cat. I knew that poem from English O level and was shocked by the massacre.


He also totally missed the characterization of all (most?) of the cats in the poems. From that perspective, he really did F it up badly.

My take on the trailer was it looked like something Tim Burton could have created after watching Avatar and smoking a shitload of catnip.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:35 PM on July 18 [3 favorites]


If Devonian or someone else doesn't make a FPP of that Banana Splits Movie trailer by the time I leave for work tomorrow, I'm doing it.
posted by hippybear at 8:46 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I’ve watched the trailer twice. Once before reading the comments and once after. I rewatched it to see if I could notice the remarked upon CGIness. Excuse my inability to see, but are the faces pasted onto CGI motion capture cat bodies, hence unreal? If that is the case then the human hands and feet could have been catlike, except for the apparent wearing of shoes and the likelihood of characters having to grasp something. Are the clothed cats actually people in costume since maybe they aren’t choreographically interesting to motion capture? The making of video showed what appeared to be actual oversized sets and props suggesting that this movie wasn’t just real people prancing about in a totally green space, ie the lion. Just looking at the trailer and trying to deduce the actual means of production leaves me just with a lot of questions. Many of which are courtesy of the 66 questions linked above. Simplest question though to ask is Why?
posted by njohnson23 at 8:51 PM on July 18


There was one production number in Mary Poppins Returns (a movie I found agreeable but non-memorable) which had my jaw hanging on the floor with its mix of life sets and CGI and sometimes what appeared to just be magic effects. Outstandingly well done.

Couldn't hum the tune for you to save my life.
posted by hippybear at 8:54 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


As a kid that grew up doing theatre in the 80s, i agree that “Memory” is shitty. The poem it steals from is better. But still no “Preludes”
posted by thivaia at 9:01 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Me:"The surprising part is how much ALW didn't fuck up the original poems"

Others: Webber completely fucked up the rhythm of Macavity the Mystery Cat. I knew that poem from English O level and was shocked by the massacre.

He also totally missed the characterization of all (most?) of the cats in the poems. From that perspective, he really did F it up badly.


Just to be clear, I'm aware of the space between Cats and the original poems. My comment regarding my surprise about the overall quality of the show stands; which is to say, I would maintain it could have been even worse. I assume that

I heard that he literally wasn't allowed to under the terms of his deal with Esmé Valerie Eliot.

is the explanation for why it wasn't.
posted by Caduceus at 9:04 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


Dunking on Cats is a proud and storied tradition going back generations.

It's also the name of my new band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:08 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]




Oh I do not care for that at all
posted by Mchelly at 9:18 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised the cat allowed it to happen long enough to be photographed!
posted by hippybear at 9:23 PM on July 18



(or rather, there are no 50 year old captains with a stellar 25-year air force career)


muddgirl he's a naval aviator, so I'm pretty sure there are 50 year old O-6's out to there. It's a lot easier to write oh get the senior officer back in the cockpit than avoiding the up and out.
posted by Carillon at 9:38 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]


LOL I should know better than to "well ACSHUALLY.' Thanks for the correction.
posted by muddgirl at 9:51 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


This trailer looks wonderful and the characters look wonderful and my only worry is there won't be enough dancing.
posted by one for the books at 10:16 PM on July 18 [4 favorites]


I saw the original Bway cast in 1982 (?) and I liked the show. I saw it years later and didn't like it at all! What changed? No idea, my tastes?

I just watched the clip and all I can think is: where are the costumes?? I recall that the costumes made the show for me the first time.

Also the set was intimate. This set is outsized and fake, and while the dancing seems lovely the "cats" seem to have been "skinned." It's more than just naked! Ugh!

No thanks.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 10:24 PM on July 18


Someone on my twitter just said "I watched the trailer for Cats. Also I'm bisexual now." Which is obviously a joke, but it's a joke that contains some truth, I think. It's a sort of sexy kind of body look which is also a bit more androgynous than perhaps the producers expected.
posted by hippybear at 10:34 PM on July 18 [1 favorite]




I wish you could buy futures in Google Trends for "what is a jellicle?" for when the movie comes out, because "Jellicles do and Jellicles can / Jellicles can and Jellicles do" is not an adequate explanation for a term that gets sung over and over. Yes, I am familiar with "The Jellicle Ball," and all that does is introduce the further confusion of "WTF is a Jellicle Moon?"
posted by zachlipton at 11:01 PM on July 18 [5 favorites]


Much like being in a very upscale jewelry shop or looking a furniture in a non-discount house... if you have to ask, you can't afford to know.
posted by hippybear at 11:11 PM on July 18


WHY ARE SOME OF THEM WEARING FUR COATS
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 11:13 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]


They do this in the stage musical too.

I'm guessing longhairs vs shorthairs.
posted by hippybear at 11:17 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


PEOPLE PRETENDING TO BE CATS IS FINE AND COOL BUT IF SOME SORT OF HUGE ANIMAL WANTED TO PRETEND TO BE PEOPLE THEN EVERYONE IS ALL “PLEASE LEAVE THIS BANK” @SICKOFWOLVES 3:40pm 18 Jul 2019
posted by hippybear at 11:28 PM on July 18 [9 favorites]




I have voluntarily seen Cats multiple times in theatre, and this is CGI hell. I guess they were going for making the famous actors recognisable? I can see not going with the cartoonish theatrical makeup but the answer is not fully human faces on CGI-deformed bodies. There's such a lot of brilliant things that can be done with makeup, why avoid it entirely? Going with bigger wigs and symbolic makeup like the Polish production might have carried over well to film.

(The secret to a good Cats production is actors having fun, because the show allows for a hell of a lot of improv, especially for character and ensemble actors who normally don't get solos. I've had fans and opera glasses nicked, narrowly avoided a Tugger in my lap, and on one memorable occasion had my hair entirely messed up by a bored Mistoffelees because Old Deuteronomy stopped to chat to some pals.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:00 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


like seriously, there are no 50 year old captains in the US Air Force

But he's in the Navy, which makes his Captain rank equivalent to an Air Force Bird Colonel. A 50 year old Colonel isn't really uncommon.
posted by tclark at 12:12 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I want to see what they filmed before the cgi, like, did they put them in cat costumes, or were they all wearing those insane looking mocap suits? because if so I'd like to see that instead?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:57 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I don't normally have much time for musicals (except for that time when I got really into Hamilton; make of that what you will), so I don't know much about all that, but I know this: the release of this trailer has been the most fun twitter has been in ages. (People are getting downring lyrical in expressing their bewilderment and horror. Certainly is has left no one untouched. I quite like the version of the trailer where they switched out the songs with Rains of Castamere.)

I apologize to all the musical fans who love this sincerely, and to all the musical fans who are dejected by the idea that this is what non-musical fans think all musicals are like more or less anyway, and I apologize to the furries who resent the idea that they would be into that, and I apologize to the furries who resent the idea that it would be weird to be into that, but during this relentless onslaught of news to be genuinenly horrified about, the opportunity to be mock-horrified about uncanny CGI cat-human hybrids is a balm to my soul. I can only speak for myself of course, but please know that in my dunking at least there's an element of awe. I think this concotion looks absultely unholy and I mean that in the most loving sense.

Also, I don't know the first thing about musicals, as I said, but plot is generally overrated, and I'm sure a lot of them could do with a lot less of it.
posted by sohalt at 1:02 AM on July 19 [11 favorites]


One thing I find really baffling about this is that it's lit like a horror movie. That 'replace it with the Us score' video above really displays it, but I thought it before I'd even seen that.

Go watch it on mute, and it's startling. Did Tom Hooper pull a fast one, and this is an IT crossover?
posted by pseudonymph at 1:20 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine makes costumes for a living. Mostly Cats costumes, though she branches out into cosplay when she gets inspired. She's very good at it too - they used her costumes in that Kimmy Schmidt episode. I've seen photos of various stages of production. Lots of fancy scribbles on fancy spandex with fancy markers. Lots of knitting. The wigs are very complicated. She has a device that uses acid to get dye into synthetic material. It's quite a process.

I feel so bad for her after watching this. People are going to go to Etsy, search for Cats costumes, and pelt her with demands for something resembling this uncanny valley of CGI body paint.
posted by cmyk at 1:36 AM on July 19 [9 favorites]


> "He also totally missed the characterization of all (most?) of the cats in the poems."

This has always unreasonably annoyed me. Macavity isn't a thug, he's a sneak. Jellicle Cats are a specific kind of cat, small tuxedo cats, not just a generic word for cats in general. And also, Magical Mr. Mistoffelees IS A FEMALE CAT! THAT'S THE JOKE! HOW CAN YOU READ THAT POEM AND NOT NOTICE THIS? WHY IS THAT CHARACTER MALE IN THE MUSICAL AND THE MOVIE? WHYYYYYYY???

It is possible that I am a giant nerd.
posted by kyrademon at 2:11 AM on July 19 [13 favorites]


I am banned by Mrs. Example and most of our friends from talking about Andrew Lloyd Webber because after a drink or two and about five minutes of talking about fucking Phantom the words "ANATHEMA UPON HIM" and "DAMNATIO MEMORIAE" start coming out.

I got strong opinions about theatre and am massively overeducated is the general gist here.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:20 AM on July 19 [8 favorites]


I can't hate Andrew Lloyd Webber entirely because Jesus Christ Superstar is very very good. But looking at his later work, this seems to be mostly the influence of Tim Rice.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:34 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


That Top Gun Too trailer was nice - but it has me waiting for a new Hot Shots trailer now...
posted by DreamerFi at 2:50 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


If Danny John Jules doesn't have at least a cameo in this, it had better be because he turned it down, and not because the filmmakers didn't offer him a role.
Danny John-Jules in cat costume. (I hadn't previously clocked he'd played this cat)
posted by edd at 3:53 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


The Guardian has a Q&A on how to understand your response to the trailer: Feline queasy: eight urgent questions about the Cats trailer.

If you saw the Cats trailer last night, you won’t have slept and may still be shaking. Here, we begin the process of trying to understand what happened...

8. What am I doing with my hands?
Oh, that’s right, I’m involuntarily peeling the skin off them because apparently that sensation is preferable to looking at any more footage of screaming, digitally augmented, uncanny valley feline hell-mutants. This trailer made me vomit, and wet myself, and now I’m peeling the skin off my own hands. Are you happy now, Tom Hooper?

posted by Major Clanger at 5:08 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I saw cats at about 8 and love it, though I don't actually listen to the songs anymore, it holds a place in my heart. My grandfather loved musicals in general and also loved this musical as well. I know what the problems with it -- and with ALW generally -- are and I do not care. I was probably going to see this in the theatre before the preview and, though the trailer is terrifying and certainly pushed a lot of people off the fence from maybe I will see it, I probably still will. I've never been cool, I'm still not cool, I no longer give a shit about this.
posted by jeather at 5:09 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I keep reading Tom Hooper as Tobe Hooper
posted by emjaybee at 5:13 AM on July 19 [10 favorites]


This is horrifying and I must conclude I have died and am being punished for my sins.
posted by Justinian at 5:24 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


Don't get me wrong, I love ALW. I still have very fond spots in my heart for Joseph, JCS, and Phantom. I also think much of the music in Cats is fine. But the show itself ... I walked out and was thinking, "he must have made this after all his hits because how could he have a career afterwards?" and looked it up and saw he convinced someone to fund Phantom 5 years after Cats and I was shook.
posted by tocts at 5:27 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


pelt her with demands

I see what you did there.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:11 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


tocts: It's even better. He got people to fund Phantom after making a show that started off as his attempt to adapt "Thomas the Tank Engine" and ended up with the whole cast on roller skates.

So, I'm just waking up to the world and am as yet uncaffeinated, but I've finally watched the trailer after seeing great twitter snark about it yesterday and it's ... not as bad as I was actually expecting? The CGI looks pretty uncanny-valley-meh and will look like even bigger crap in a few years, because that's what happens with most 'realistic' cgi'd humans. But there's some solid casting and Blankenbuehler is a hell of a choreographer, so I'm hoping Hooper's direction lets it shine through. And if Hooper is making his way through notable musicals of the 1980's, perhaps Chess will get the remake it deserves, hewing closer to the original British structure but definitely keeping "Someone Else's Story" in.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:14 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


a show that started off as his attempt to adapt "Thomas the Tank Engine" and ended up with the whole cast on roller skates.

Now THIS I would watch.
posted by sallybrown at 6:21 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I tried to watch this all the way through, but was viscerally unable to. It must be triggering something at a very deep level somewhere in my brain.
posted by carter at 6:32 AM on July 19


Wait--I figured out the problem, or one of them. It's a matter of mass and volume. Human bodies don't have the same proportions as cat bodies, but if you want to realistically and recognizably shrink a human to the size of a cat, the body needs to occupy the same volume of space as a feline body. The bodies in this trailer are too small; they look more like rats or ferrets than cats. This is why some of the larger-bodied performers, like Rebel Wilson, look a little better: because they occupy more space.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:51 AM on July 19 [14 favorites]


The anatomical and animation choices around the tails are so viscerally weird and gross to me. That’s the part that really squicked me the most. It's like... Absolutely nothing about my actual cat's tail says "tentacle" to me, but for whatever reason, the independent motion of the tails in the trailer make my brain go BUTT TENTACLE NOPE.
posted by merriment at 7:01 AM on July 19 [14 favorites]


Has no one called all these comments catty because it's just too obvious?
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:01 AM on July 19 [2 favorites]


“...Which Furry was behind this?”
posted by The Whelk at 11:20 PM on July 18 [+] [!]


Going off this article in the London Review of Books, my theory is that the biggest furry involved with Cats might be the Old Possum himself, T.S. Eliot:
The way Eliot names himself is much more complicated than the way he names Emily. He signs himself variously in these letters: ‘Mr Possum’, ‘T.S.E.’, ‘T.S. Eliot’, ‘Tom’, ‘Herlock Sholmes’, ‘Uncle Tom’, ‘TP’ (short for ‘Tom Possum’ or ‘The Possum’), ‘T’, leaves a deliberate blank, ‘Possum’, ‘POSSUM’, ‘Tp’, ‘Secretary’, ‘Tom Eliot’, ‘T.S.’, ‘Th. Eliot/of Somerset’, ‘TP’, 'THE MAN IN WHITE SPATS’, ‘Tom S.’, ‘UNCLE TOM’, 'ANNOYED’, ‘O. Possum’, ‘T. Possum’, and ‘O Possum’ and, while masquerading as other Faber colleagues in spoof reports on his own book, ‘R. de la M.’, ‘A.P.’ and ‘H.R.’ – hardly a shocking number of self-presentations over 1100 pages, but suggestive of a certain fluidity of identity.
posted by rollick at 7:19 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]




> "Now THIS I would watch."

Starlight Express is still a huge hit in Germany and informs much of the German perception of musical theater.
posted by kyrademon at 7:43 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


Go watch it on mute, and it's startling. Did Tom Hooper pull a fast one, and this is an IT crossover?

Close, but not quite. When you consider the plot summarized as "one of them has to die," it's clearly an adaptation of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:57 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I'm having a crisis because I'd vowed to watch everything Idris Elba does and with this I just can't. I mean, my hatred for TSwift was already gonna make this a challenge but upon seeing the trailer... wooboy, that is some awful shit that's visually unappealling and illogical in like every way.

Like, I enjoyed the Cats musical when I was kid and saw it on broadway. The improv-y moments where the cast interacts with the audience or the set make it interesting. The dancing can be fun. It's fun to sing the songs on a roadtrip (famiy roadtrip tunes were always musicals as the "compromise" between everyone's personal preferences). But, like the Lion King, there is absolutely no need for this film. And Tom Hooper already done fucked up Les Mis, so I'm even more baffled why anyone would let him helm this. Like, now i'm worried we're gonna get supercloseups of the quivering lips on the TINY HEADS.
posted by TwoStride at 8:14 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Ok so I never saw Cats as a youngin, but was always mildly interested. I saw the teaser behind-the-scenes first and I thought wow, all these huge names all so thrilled to be in this thing! The dancing should be EXCELLENT. I watched the trailer. It looked fine. I would watch it. Some of the sets look really great. I thought the cats looked... mostly like I expected (But yes, the women are basically naked and the men are clothed wtf.)

THEN I read that people are horrified and creeped out, and came to get MeFi's take - also largely horrified. So last night I decided to look up reaction videos to this thing. There were lots, so I decided to try to watch most of the ones by not white males (with some exceptions). Anyway, there is a huge split between people who immediately are creeped out by seeing the white cat's face the first time, and it is hilarious. Then others (mostly theater fans/Cats fans, I think) were not bothered so much and many are looking forward to it.


tl,dr: Watch a few reaction videos. Some are hilarious! (Example from Lisa at Shine On Video)
Also support diverse voices on YouTube!
posted by Glinn at 8:16 AM on July 19


Huw Parkinson is an Australian national treasure who does amazing political parody videos, and that's all I could think of when I saw this.
posted by h00py at 8:34 AM on July 19


I feel like this is the only way it could have looked? I guess, yeah, it looks weird, but it seems like ... that's always what it was going to be? At least with CGI they can have body parts that move, as opposed to tails that are just limp tail rags hanging off a belt, which is basically what happens in the live productions. I didn't have much feeling either way, other than waiting for Idris, who is sexy, but I was like "YES!" when I saw ears move. In conclusion, life is a rich tapestry.
posted by Occula at 8:48 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


My first Broadway experience. I saw Cats at the Wintergarden in 1988. A weekday matinee. The actors were so very over it, they were practically having their smoke breaks on stage. Listlessly bouncing around the threadbare theater, in worn-out costumes, the slapdash makeup insufficient to hide the dead-eyed looks of weary resignation exchanged on this Stage Of The Damned. It was still the best thing I had ever seen in my life up to that point, and I still adore the show, for all of its faults.
posted by Optamystic at 9:24 AM on July 19 [13 favorites]


My MBMBAM Cat with a human face T-shirt is looking pretty cool right now but this freaks me out a little.
posted by PugAchev at 9:36 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I love Cats; it was my first Broadway show. I am looking forward to this film because Cats is totally wackadoodle and if you're going to do it, you just have to embrace it full-force. Frankly I would watch two hours of Idris Elba as Macavity just, like, catnapping all day, and I dance around with my black cat Mike singing "Magical Mister Mike-stoffelees", so yeah, I'm here for this.
posted by candyland at 10:03 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]


>Are we calling every film that isn't 100% animated "live action" now?

Doesn't "live action" usually mean that there's a prior version that was animated? Maybe there's a misunderstanding, and this is actually an adaptation of Thundercats.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 10:10 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


I’ve been sitting here thinking about how many of the Jellicle Cats appear to be clothed in some way in this trailer, and yet Bombalurina (as played by Taylor Swift) is, as cats go, naked... but for a pair of snazzy character heels. It’s just sort of stuck with me for the last day.
posted by angeline at 10:18 AM on July 19




Honestly, I don't care about how bad the CGI is, mostly because the biggest problem with CATS is Andrew Lloyd Fucking Webber.
posted by SansPoint at 11:17 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]


Please stop saying the plot of Cats is confusing. The plot of Cats is that they're cats and they introduce themselves until one of them gets permission to die.

Is this supposed to reflect the feelings of the audience?
posted by GuyZero at 11:43 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]


While Jellicles can and Jellicles do, perhaps Jellicles were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:48 AM on July 19 [14 favorites]


I love this, unironically. I love the dancing, despite the uncanny valley. I've always loved the music and (especially!) the lyrics, but I love this trailer, too.

I haven't wanted to see a fantasy film in so long - but I want to see this one.
posted by jb at 1:27 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


That said: Bustopher Jones is not supposed to be in a literal tuxedo - he's clearly a black-and-white cat with white markings on his feet just like spats.
posted by jb at 1:33 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I want to hate this, but it includes Francesca Hayward (link to 2014 Guardian article on her at 22) dancing (link to Hayward's page at the Royal Ballet).

I love her (2018 Guardian review of Giselle, praising Hayward's performance).

Here she is performing in Sink or Swim (content note: about living with severe depression).
posted by Laetiporus at 2:00 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


I also--James Corden was spitting on someone in the trailer, right? Bustopher Jones may be remarkably fat but he doesn't spit on other cats.
posted by TwoStride at 2:02 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


He got people to fund Phantom after making a show that started off as his attempt to adapt "Thomas the Tank Engine" and ended up with the whole cast on roller skates.

To be fair, even ALW has expressed some regret/dismay over Starlight Express. I can't remember where, but I know I saw an interview with him about his career where he said "Oh dear, my little children's musical has gotten quite out of hand." He really did write it to be a small children's show, but then director Trevor Nunn got involved, and...
posted by dnash at 2:03 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


My childhood best friend and I were obsessed with Phantom, which was a gateway drug to Cats and Evita and all the other ALW musicals. We had a compilation CD that had a Starlight Express song on it:

Starlight Express, you must confess, are you real, yes or no?

At which point we would lose our shit laughing because...if it said "no," it was still clearly real, right?

We were...strange children.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:51 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


It's a matter of mass and volume. Human bodies don't have the same proportions as cat bodies,

Yeah, after watching the trailer a few times, I think any technical quality issues with CGI are outweighed by the artistic decisions of what/how they were animating.

I assume they were all nuded up to show off the professional dancers, but it has the unfortunate side effect of the bad proportions. If you've given a cat a weird lion/poodle cut in summer, the result is similarly creepy. Maybe they could've found a happy medium by leaving the front/underside of the cats more trim and adding a few extra inches of hair everywhere else.

I'm sure my kids will love it regardless, but everything in the trailer suffers from curious and questionable aesthetic choices - a shame as the singing and dancing looks great.
posted by p3t3 at 4:07 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


tclark: "like seriously, there are no 50 year old captains in the US Air Force

But he's in the Navy, which makes his Captain rank equivalent to an Air Force Bird Colonel. A 50 year old Colonel isn't really uncommon.
"

Except that Tom's pushing 60 these days.
posted by octothorpe at 5:00 PM on July 19


I think I figured out the problem I have with the visuals. It makes me think of a kids' movie that's winkingly self-aware of how goofy and weird it looks. Especially the bit with the tiny cat lady and the giant cutlery.

I keep expecting the Mike Myers version of Cat In The Hat to roller skate by and offer up a pratfall or a quip.
posted by cmyk at 5:17 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Never saw Cats, and don't have any strong opinions about it as a musical; WRT the plot, well, my favorite musical, Godspell, doesn't have much of one. (There's the baptism and the crucifixion, but most of what's in between are various parables that set up the big musical numbers.) If you're a big Cats fan and are digging the idea or even what's seen of the execution, fine, cool. There's a little part of me that is still boggled at the idea that not only are there really good Marvel superhero movies, but that they're popular beyond thirteen-year-old me's wildest dreams, so your fandom should get its chance to strut too.

BUT. The way that they're done, with very realistic fur but no genitalia, is just weird. You don't get that uncanny valley effect with furries' fursuits, because they're not that realistic in any aspect. It's a little bit like a Barbie burlesque where the skin has realistic texture but otherwise they're as anatomically incorrect as the dolls. And, no, that doesn't mean that I want furry porn or something; the theatrical costumes and makeup are gorgeous and they could have gone with that. (Unless some of the bigger-name actors balked at being too unrecognizable.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:20 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


I'm just really happy for Taylor Swift. I'm not that familiar with her but even I know how much she loves cats, and becoming a famous one on film probably really pleases her and I'm just glad for her that she gets to do that.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 5:29 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]


A friend of a friend explains perfectly to the uninitiated: "It's five hundred songs about five hundred different cats basically just singing about what their name is. It's endless and all the music is bonkers and yes some of the songs (memory, I guess) are good, but most of them are ridiculous, but they will ALL noodle themselves into your brain and I can literally sing all of them from memory because as bananas as they are they are also memorable, but at the end of the day it's people frolicking around PRETENDING TO BE CATS and they all -- everyone in this movie and everyone who has ever done it on stage -- take it SO SERIOUSLY that it somehow transcends camp into this other layer of existence that WANTS to be taken seriously but almost CAN'T be and then they take it SO SERIOUSLY that it does actually become camp and then somehow it loses its campness again, and as soon as you're sick of one damned cat oh whoa here comes another one, and then suddenly one of the cats is a pirate, like LITERALLY A PIRATE, and it is a perfect musical for a child, it really is, I saw it when I was ten and it's one of the reasons I love theater, legitimately, I will give it credit for that, but it's also just kind of terrible because WHEN WILL THE CATS STOP SOMEONE STOP THE CATS HOW ARE THERE MORE CATS, and the thought of all of these amazingly talented people licking their paws and playing cats like Rumplesmoogus and Wallyrampteromus is just TOO MUCH and also somehow NOT ENOUGH, and I cannot wait, I cannot wait, I want to consume every second of this movie right this second, I hope it is a joyful nightmare and I expect to see it a dozen times and Andrea, I don't think I sent the evite to you, but I will, there's an evite, a Cats evite. Hi."
posted by jocelmeow at 6:24 PM on July 19 [24 favorites]


I for one cannot wait for Paul F. Tompkins to record a commentary track for the dvd.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 6:40 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


I want it to be the version where Tituss Andromedon just wangles himself into the show.
posted by allthinky at 6:45 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


WRT the plot, well, my favorite musical, Godspell, doesn't have much of one. (There's the baptism and the crucifixion, but most of what's in between are various parables that set up the big musical numbers.)

This is an interesting comparison on SO many levels. Stephen Schwartz didn't write his own lyrics -- all the songs in the show are new compositions for existing hymns. Schwartz didn't write his own story -- he used the Parables of The Book Of Matthew from The New Testament as his framework. Godspell has someone calling for people to assemble at the beginning and a death/ascension at the end. (There is no resurrection in Godspell - Jesus is merely carried off-stage, usually up the aisles and out of sight, and Grizabella's ascension is, at best, only loosely hinted at and while physical shown there is no "here's your new life" moment at the end of the show, she just ascends on a flying junkyard tire and disappears into the mist.

I'd never thought of the parallels between the shows before, and they keep expanding in my mind the more I think about it. What a strange thing! Thanks for mentioning it.
posted by hippybear at 7:15 PM on July 19 [3 favorites]


Rumplesmoogus and Wallyrampteromus

Aren't those the couriers in Hamlet?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:15 PM on July 19 [8 favorites]


The Fug Girls also have comments on the trailer and honestly, the whole thing is worth a read:
The fallacy of this approach to Cats is, I think… ALL OF IT. ALL OF IT IS THE PROBLEM. IT’S HORRIFYING. IT IS AN ACID TRIP OF A FEVER DREAM OF A NIGHTMARE WRAPPED IN BAD DECISIONS AND SPRINKLED WITH THAT TIME DEMI MOORE ROLLED AROUND ON A BED OF MONEY IN INDECENT PROPOSAL. It’s like Tom Hopper listened to the soundtrack while drinking absinthe and watching a Tim Burton movie on mute. My new hobby is going to be figuring out which actor will get stuck carrying the promotional load once the others decide they don’t want anyone to remember they’re in it; my money is on the newcomer who’s playing Victoria (I don’t even REMEMBER that cat; was she added later?) and Jennifer Hudson, because she’s going to gun for another Oscar for Belting It Out Loudly.
posted by TwoStride at 8:41 PM on July 19 [5 favorites]


Sequence: "but give me an entire musical of cats singing about being cats"

Now, I like cats, but let's be serious - the only thing a cat would *ever* sing about is being a cat.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:33 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


Ah, what the hell. I've done circled around and have decided I am now EAGER to see this film in its entirety once it hits the streaming/digital rental services. Until then, any preview clips or other promo material? I await with glee.

I was too young to really latch on to the Cats craze back in the day, but it was probably the first musical I became aware of as a musical theater production due to watching a Reading Rainbow episode about it as a kid, and ever since the 90s it's always felt like a randomly recurring part of my pop culture life. The best friend in Caroline in the City was a Cats dancer, PBS fundraisers kept showing that direct-to-video performance, the OBC soundtrack was at my library, the library also had Eliot's cat poems book... It's just part of my life regardless of personal preference at this point.

Bring on those funky little uncanny cat-sized human-handed Jellicles!
posted by rather be jorting at 9:37 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Honestly, having watched the trailer more than a few times now, I'm finding it not quite so alienating as upon first seeing it. I already grok the metaphor from the musical, here's a bit more literal. I think i won't find it so strange after watching it for more than a few minutes.

I do fear the idea of "plot" however. I think they're going to just Plot It Up Like There's No Tomorrow and that possibly won't work well.
posted by hippybear at 9:42 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Oh, we're in this time line? Fuck. I really need to find enough beryllium to finish building the core matrix of the portal gun I've been working on ever since ol' Mangoface starting LARPing President.

I think they're going to just Plot It Up Like There's No Tomorrow and that possibly won't work well.

Well, my time machine works and I've seen the reviews. There is a plot and you're not going to like it. The cats are hired/drafted to fight terrorists. And not with song. Unfortunately. But there's sure a lot of singing while they do some serious ass kicking.

Apparently every single last one of the cats has some special, essential skill and-or toy-maker friendly gadget that helps plot the plot. Those skills are of course discovered and revealed along the way if not hamfistedly telegraphed with foreshadowing so cartoonish it's stolen from the plot of a children's cereal box and it's all terrible and obviously intended to sell about a thousand different collectible toys.

There will be a lot of controversy about the "sniper scene" as it is called, where Rumpleteazer takes a wild shot trying to rescue Rum Tum Tugger being held hostage in a stand off and, well, domes them both in graphic detail.
posted by loquacious at 12:05 AM on July 20 [4 favorites]


having watched the trailer more than a few times now, I'm finding it not quite so alienating as upon first seeing it.

A/K/A "Stockholm Syndrome"...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:07 AM on July 20 [7 favorites]




Magical Mr. Mistoffelees IS A FEMALE CAT! THAT'S THE JOKE! HOW CAN YOU READ THAT POEM AND NOT NOTICE THIS? WHY IS THAT CHARACTER MALE IN THE MUSICAL AND THE MOVIE? WHYYYYYYY???

So I'm honestly curious - what is it about the Mistoffelees poem that leads you to this conclusion? The idea that Mistoffelees did a magic trick resulting in pulling seven kittens from a hat? That seems quite literal to me (excuse the pun). The entire poem refers to Mr. Mistoffelees as "him," and does so in nearly every line. Put in context with all of the other poems, especially considering that he was writing them for children, I don't think Eliot had a hidden joke here.
posted by tzikeh at 8:03 PM on July 20 [3 favorites]


> "That seems quite literal to me"

It isn't. Mistoffelees is a cat who was assumed to be a male cat but had kittens one day (which is a thing that occasionally happens; I know a person or two with a "male" cat that they discovered wasn't when this happened.) Male cats who are actually male cats do not suddenly and magically produce kittens. It's the big reveal joke at the end of the poem.
posted by kyrademon at 1:45 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


(Bear in mind that this was a much more common thing to happen before neutering pets was as routine as it is now, and that it isn't always easy to tell a male cat from a female cat.)
posted by kyrademon at 1:56 AM on July 21


The poem references "inventions," "patent monopolies," "illusions," and "confusions," all plural. If it was supposed to be a joke about Mr. Mistoffelees being a female cat, I think it would have been more along the lines of:

You ought to know Mr. Mistoffelees!
The Original Conjuring Cat--
(There can be no doubt about that).
Please listen to me and don't scoff. His
Invention is off his own bat.
There's no such Cat in the metropolis;
He holds the patent monopoly
For performing a surprising illusion
And creating an eccentric confusion.

...so that you're left with the impression that he has pulled a single amazing trick -- the seven kittens -- and that's where he got his reputation. With all those words pluralized, I think this is simply a case of him being a male cat that does magic tricks.
posted by Bugbread at 2:53 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


...and if you disagree, that's fine, I get it, but I don't think it's so intensely obvious that you need to go down the "anyone who doesn't understand this is an idiot" path with an all-caps "HOW CAN YOU READ THAT POEM AND NOT NOTICE THIS? WHY IS THAT CHARACTER MALE IN THE MUSICAL AND THE MOVIE? WHYYYYYYY???"
posted by Bugbread at 2:56 AM on July 21 [2 favorites]


My spouse, bemused, asked me if I am prepared to die on this hill, and my response was BY GOD YES I AM, I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL.

(I do apologize for insulting anyone who disagrees with the interpretation, however. Sorry. My anger was meant to be aimed at the musical, not you.)

So, a couple of comments:

1) In regard to that it's just one trick of many, it's the final one in the poem. It's the big finish and supposed to be a reveal.

2) In regard to this is a poem for kids, why would that be in it, allow me to paint for you a picture of a surprisingly common experience in Olden Times:
- You are a small child
- One day, your parents bring home a kitten
- There is no internet to tell you how to tell a male kitten from a female kitten, and your parents are not expert or experienced cat sexers; you certainly aren't
- You wouldn't bring the cat to the vet unless maybe the cat gets sick, and that doesn't happen
- You don't get the cat neutered; no one you know does that, why would you?
- You name the cat let's say Buster
- There is no particular sign as Buster grows up that he's been misnamed or misidentified
- Then one day, suddenly, Buster has kittens
- You don't know much, but you know enough to know that male cats don't have kittens
- MAGIC! (Or actually, your parents tell you Buster is female after all. But you keep the name Buster. That's Buster's name!)

The poem is meant (in part) to reflect an experience that a fair number of kids would either have encountered themselves or known about second-hand. It is not the *only* aspect of cat magic in the poem; it is also meant to portray cats who steal and hide small objects, cats who are mysteriously not where you think they are even though they were RIGHT THERE a second ago, you HEARD them there, etc. But mis-sexing cats was also A Thing That Happened (More Often Then Than Now), and Eliot put it in as the final joke -- ta-da! This magical cat is so magical that "he" can even have kittens!

You are, of course, free to disagree, and I once again apologize for any intemperate words, but I have been angry about that cat being male in the musical for years, and THIS HILL. ON IT. I WILL DIE.
posted by kyrademon at 3:30 AM on July 21 [12 favorites]


I have known the musical Cats for literally decades (possibly since the cast album was first released) and have known a lot of people who know Cats really well and even have met cast members from several productions in more than one country, and you are literally the first person ever I have heard say that Mistoffelees has to be female because of the kitten thing.

Is there some literary scholarship you're basing this on? Like, someone has found notes by Eliot from during the time he was writing and written up a paper on the discovery? Or some kind of annotated version of Practical Cats poems which alludes to this, in fact, being Eliot's intent with his writing?

Also, I'm left to wonder exactly about this narrative you paint about this Olden Times experience. Is this something that has been documented in diaries or other sources from the time which have been published? I would personally be shocked to learn that you, yourself, were alive to be Eliot's target audience when the book was first published. I'm wondering on exactly how you know this was a common experience of the time, and would welcome reading source accounts of this from the time, along with some sort of analysis as to how common this might be that the poem would be universally recognized to be about exactly this experience.

I do admire the strength of your belief in this interpretation of the poem, but I fear you may be the only person who believes this.
posted by hippybear at 4:17 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


Nah, sign me up, makes perfect sense. I never thought about it but it's delightful and perfectly fits Eliot's storytelling modality. Thanks, kyrademon.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:11 AM on July 21 [3 favorites]


I'm intending this to be my last comment on the topic, because it's clear that (1) a lot of people think I'm deranged, and (2) I can't imagine anyone else cares about this as much as I do. But I'd like to at least respond to hippybear, who raises some fair questions about my sources.

I do not have any evidence from Eliot's notes or anything, nor was I alive in 1939.

I did, however, spend part of my childhood in an area where it was not common to neuter cats or take them to the vet other than in emergencies. "Male" cats having kittens was, as I have mentioned, a thing that happened there to my knowledge, and it was regarded as "Ha, yeah, that's something that happens sometimes" rather than "That Is Unheard Of!" (My spouse, incidentally, tells me that when she was a kid, her family had a similar issue with a hamster.) This probably colored my attitude towards the poem, to the extent that when I read it I assumed that of *course* that was what it was getting at, and assumed (apparently incorrectly) that this would be the normal reading.

I do not have on hand documented evidence that this was a more common experience in the days (before the 1970's, roughly speaking) when spaying and neutering was less common in a wider area. However, I think it is a reasonable extrapolation from my own childhood experience, and I recall reading period books where this happened and was presented as a humorous but not impossible event. What were these books? I'm afraid I can't recall; I read them decades ago, and google isn't helping. Unsurprisingly, there do not seem to be any easy to find academic papers with titles like "Misgendering of pets in late 19th and early 20th century children's literature". I can understand if you don't want to take my word for it without cites, though.

From the responses here, I think part of the issue arises as to whether you think the poem is meant to be (1) a poem about things that some cats actually do -- hiding small objects, being in the wrong place, having kittens -- with some whimsical metaphorical anthropomorphic touches -- dice, cards, a hat; or (2) a poem about an anthropomorphic magician cat who does human style magic tricks -- with dice, cards, a hat -- with a few "felinish" touches -- hiding small objects, being in the wrong place, producing kittens in the final trick. This *might* (and I emphasize *might*) be affected by whether you encountered the poem or the musical first. In the musical, this is clearly a male cat who does human-style magic tricks, and I am not surprised that anyone involved in the musical never thought anything else. But having read the poems long before I saw the musical, I had always gone with interpretation (1), and was therefore surprised when the musical went with interpretation (2). It is, of course, entirely possible to read the poem, never see the musical, and still come out with interpretation (2) -- or think (1) and not think the kittens thing means anything much -- and I'm sure many have.

But I will think to my dying day that Eliot both meant (1) and meant Mistoffelees to be a female cat who had been taken to be a male, and well, HILL. DEATH. Etc.
posted by kyrademon at 6:29 AM on July 21 [7 favorites]


I feel like it was a pretty common trope in sitcoms and kids’ books and the like for a kid to realize “oh no! Mr. Whiskers is actually *Mrs.* Whiskers!” I’ve definitely seen that before, it’s not just kyrademon having an unusual experience.
posted by sallybrown at 6:59 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


I LOVE THAT THERE IS SUCH A SPIRITED CONVO ABOUT MAGICAL MR. MISTOFFELLEES.

Am currently #teammagicalmrmistkittens.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:06 AM on July 21 [5 favorites]


This is the best MeFi fight I've seen in years.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:14 AM on July 21 [13 favorites]


Oh, kyrademon, that does really make total sense to me! Mistoffelees' other magic tricks (poem here) are the sorts of things cats do, nabbing small items like cards, dice, corks, even silverware, etc. (you move the sofa and find the cat has a compiled a hoard of bits and bobs from all over the house), stealing a bite of this or that (fishpaste from a spoon), walking on a narrow ledge, being hard to find, being inside when you think they're outside, or vice versa, you think you hear them when they are not there ... but conjuring up seven kittens is completely different — unless he's a she. None of the other feats are actually stuff that cats cannot do, so after due consideration, I'm also on team Mama-Mistoffelees.

Also, the winking of "incontestable proof" in the poem. And it's such a good joke! The family thinks all the mischievous and stealthy feline behavior is like magic, so when kittens appear ... abracadabra, it's just more proof this is a magical cat, not that Mistoffelees is female instead of male. Very cute and clever.
posted by taz at 7:26 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


Having no stake in either poem or musical, I am enjoying this swerve into Wiggums-esque Vikingism a great deal and I'd like to thank everybody for their thoughts on it. In my own heart of hearts I'm swayed by kyrademon's take on it—that it makes a good dry joke that way panders to my own sensibilities—but I also like that the theatrical canon stands in such loud literalist opposition to that read. (I wonder if ALW would have kittens if pressed on the point.)

Tying it to real life, we were just talking with a neighbor, N, who is moving and who houses a feral cat in her backyard, that we may end up taking on since it spends half its time in our backyard anyway and their move is pretty far. And the cat has a specific orange coloring that is apparently overwhelmingly presented in males rather than females, which was a point of contention when N took it in to the vet a few years back because N said "here's this female feral cat" and the vet said oh, no, that must be a male cat. And N insisted, no, this is definitely a female. And the vet: no, this marking, you never see this with female cats. Definitely male. And it's a very feral cat, so no one was going to reach under and casually check. But N was able to win the argument in the end by pointing out that this definitely male orange cat had recently had a litter of kittens in the backyard.
posted by cortex at 7:39 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


If I was TS Eliot (I'm likely not) and I wanted people to know a poem was about a particular misgendered jellicle cat, I would have renamed the cat Mrs. Mistofelees exactly one time at the very end of the poem.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:03 AM on July 21


The human butts/ tails situation is bothering me a great deal. As are the human breasts.
posted by sarcasticah at 1:09 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


The human butts/ tails situation is bothering me a great deal. As are the human breasts.

This is actually a pretty good approximation of a TS Eliot couplet.
posted by Think_Long at 1:12 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Wow, I haven't commented because I always hated "Old Possum's Book" so I couldn't even get mad at ALW for spoiling it. But Kyrademon made me go back and reread Mr. Mistoffelees and I am totally Team Kyrademon on that interpretation.
posted by acrasis at 2:03 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


This actually got me to read the poem, and now I wonder whether the lines about the cat being in two places at once are a hint that there’s another cat around (to help do the kitten-making):
You would think there was nobody shyer--
But his voice has been heard on the roof
When he was curled up by the fire.
And he's sometimes been heard by the fire
When he was about on the roof--
(At least we all heard that somebody purred)
posted by sallybrown at 2:24 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


So, as is clear, I'm on Team Male Mistoffelees, but not to a Dying On A Hill degree.

My background - I've never seen CATS, nor had I read the poem before this thread. As such, I didn't have any preconceived bias going in. If anything, my bias would have been toward assuming he's female, because my first experience with Mistoffelees was the completely gender-neutral upthread comment "on one memorable occasion had my hair entirely messed up by a bored Mistoffelees because Old Deuteronomy stopped to chat to some pals" and my second experience with Mistoffelees was "And also, Magical Mr. Mistoffelees IS A FEMALE CAT! THAT'S THE JOKE! HOW CAN YOU READ THAT POEM AND NOT NOTICE THIS? WHY IS THAT CHARACTER MALE IN THE MUSICAL AND THE MOVIE? WHYYYYYYY???").

So, that out of the way, while I'm Team Male Mistoffelees, it all comes down purely to the pluralization, and if the nouns were singular, I'd be on Team Female Mistoffelees.

So, that preamble aside, I just wanted to say that I disagree with fellow team-mates about the unlikelihood of missexing. Whether or not it happened in Ye Olde Times, it's definitely a bit of a trope in modern entertainment to have a pet be given a male name and then to have kittens to everyone's surprise.
posted by Bugbread at 3:27 PM on July 21


I wonder if ALW would have kittens if pressed on the point.

ASTOUNDINGLY, THERE IS A TANGENTIALLY RELATABLE STORY ABOUT ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND HIS KITTEN:

Some of you may (or may not) know that ALW wrote a sequel to Phantom of the Opera which is called Love Never Dies. It is terrible. It is so terrible that English does not have words to describe its terribleness. I am a bona fide musical theater geek: grew up going to weekend matinees on Broadway, majored in theater with a concentration in music for my first degree, legit performed in professional musical theater and got paid to do it (the dream), etc., and I am telling you that Love Never Dies is garbage.

It would take a Westphalian-esque amount of text to lay out all of the facts (FACTS!) that support this conclusion. As kyrademon is willing to die on the hill of Mr. Mistoffelees' gender, so am I prepared to die on the hill that Love Never Dies is a landfill's worth of trash all crammed in to two-and-a-quarter hours' worth of Nope.

BUT.

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER HAD A KITTEN WHO TRIED TO SAVE US ALL.

From the Love Never Dies Wikipedia entry:
The Daily Mail announced in May 2007 that the sequel would be delayed because Lloyd Webber's six-month-old kitten Otto, a rare-breed Turkish Van, climbed onto Lloyd Webber's Clavinova digital piano and managed to delete the entire score. Lloyd Webber was unable to recover any of it from the instrument, but was eventually able to reconstruct the score.
YOU TRIED, OTTO. YOU TRIED. WE SALUTE YOU.
posted by tzikeh at 3:31 PM on July 21 [25 favorites]


My roommates male cat had to be spayed (have the ovaries and uterus removed). It was much for expensive than the planned neutering.
posted by jb at 5:10 PM on July 21


I re-read the poem for the first time in about 30 years, and I think kyrademon is absolutely right, the kittens at the end seems clearly to me to be describing the literal having of kittens - all of the 'magic tricks' the humans are reacting to are just a cat being a cat, and doing cat stuff. I do much the same thing with our cats - I'll regularly describe our cats as having 'teleported', because they move quickly and quietly, or 'talking with ghosts' when they're staring at a bit of dust or howling at a wall.

But the poem and the rest of the book has such a duality about how much of the descriptions are supposed to be the fanciful projections or anthropomorphism of the owners, and how much is supposed to be some sort of genuine fantastical cat world that actually exists (at least from the point of the book), that I think convincing arguments can be made for either, or both simultaneously*, depending on your perspectives.

*not a new situation for cats, famously
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:14 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


for those late to the thread the possibilities are:
* mistoffelees is a male cat that can perform actual magic
* mistoffelees is a female cat whose actions are subject to playful misinterpretations
* mistoffelees is two cats pretending to be one cat like a cat version of Christian Bale in The Prestige, and deliberately avoid being seen together
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON
posted by um at 8:53 PM on July 21 [8 favorites]


He does produce the kittens right out of a hat. I don't see any mention of giving birth anywhere.
posted by hippybear at 9:16 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


When left to their own devices, cats give birth in cozy places. Like a hat left on a dark shelf.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:20 PM on July 21 [5 favorites]


It would take a Westphalian-esque

That's it. I'm going to listen to Candide.
posted by mikelieman at 6:54 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


I mean, after reading the source poem it seems really unlikely that the cat is supposed to be performing *actual* magic. He or she is sneaking around, scavenging stuff and finding cat love on the DL with another sneaking-around cat, which ends up with cute little stowed-away kittens.
posted by sallybrown at 7:17 AM on July 22


I'm finding myself agreeing with kyrademon about Mistoffelees being female, but not that she should be portrayed as obviously female in the show. That would kind of give it away too easily, I think. Maybe somewhat androgynously, at most.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:10 AM on July 22


When I was a kid we had a cat named Rum Tum. We didn't name him. It's still a little hard for me to understand that in the play, Rum Tum is based on Mick Jagger because my Rum Tum was a somewhat round, white and orange tabby who mostly just wanted to sit on your lap for hours at a time. We also had two dogs whose names both started with M.

When we got a new kitten, we decided to combine the two naming themes - a name that starts with M, from Cats. Mister Mistoffelees fit the bill, but our kitten was female, so according to my parents she was ostensibly named Mistress Mistoffelees.

We called her Missy.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:08 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Kittens in a hat.
posted by taz at 11:27 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]




They should have hired a really clever choreographer to imagine what you could do with actually dancing cats, with all the realistic freedoms and limitations that entails, cgi'd that, and then put the human faces on them. I'd pay money to see something like that.

This looks terrible. I'll probably watch this streaming a few years from now at 2am in my underwear while eating saltines dipped in bleu cheese dressing right from the jar when my SO is out of town... I don't know, visiting her mom or something.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:54 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


They should have hired a really clever choreographer

I mean... Andy Blankenbuehler has three Tony Awards for choreography, one of them for Hamilton, so....
posted by tzikeh at 3:57 PM on July 22 [1 favorite]


It's the part of the sentence that follows that contains the point.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:18 AM on July 23


I'm not sure I enjoyed this trailer, precisely, but I don't regret having watched it.

I did enjoy today's Guardian article Cats trailer’s weirdness would have appealed to TS Eliot, suggests estate
posted by readinghippo at 1:51 PM on July 23


Yeah, I'm no fan of this particular musical, but I am a huge fan of Andy Blankenbuehler's work, so I'll be happy to just watch the dancing. (Also, as noted above, Jennifer Hudson has a great voice.)
posted by kristi at 2:30 PM on July 23


So my wife just sent me an email that was "This has Judi Dench and Ian McKellan in it. I think I want to see it" and a YouTube link.

I wrote back with "Is this the Cats trailer? It better not be the Cats trailer."

Reader, it was the Cats trailer. This fall, I think I'm going to be really glad that Canada has legalized cannabis. At least, I'm hoping it will help me cope with the horrible uncanny valley reaction I have to this instead of making it worse.

I hope that there is an audience that will love this (because we all need art that gives us joy); I just know I'm not a member of that audience.
posted by nubs at 9:13 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


There's now a trailer mash-up of "Cats" with "Pet Sematary": Cat Sematary
posted by rmd1023 at 7:52 AM on August 14


Last-minute shower thought: Cats is just A Chorus Line but with elaborate costumes.
posted by muddgirl at 6:14 PM on August 15


See, now, why put that disparaging "just" in that sentence?

Cats is A Chorus Line but with elaborate costumes.

(The other big difference is that the reward is going to heaven instead of being cast in a show.)
posted by Daily Alice at 7:28 PM on August 15


I read that A Chorus Line originally had the final 8 randomized every night, but audiences got extremely upset if the "right" ones didn't get picked, so they ended up with a fixed ending. Imagine a staging of Cats where after Grizabella sings Memories, a randomly chosen cat gets to ascend instead. It would be the ultimate audience troll.
posted by muddgirl at 11:20 PM on August 15


(Looking at Wikipedia I terribly botched that chorus line anecdote but I still think it would be hilarious to sometimes send another cat up once in awhile)
posted by muddgirl at 11:24 PM on August 15 [1 favorite]


Imagine a staging of Cats where after Grizabella sings Memories, a randomly chosen cat gets to ascend instead.

I have actually been thinking about this since I read your comment, it tickles me so. And let's make it a chorus line cat, not a named character.

Sorry, Grizabella, better luck being chosen as cat tribute next year!
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:39 AM on August 16 [2 favorites]


Better yet: make it literally any character from any musical, in a last-minute walk-on. Good song, Griz, but now we're sending Jud Fry to cat heaven.
posted by cortex at 10:33 AM on August 16 [5 favorites]


Obviously Angel Dumott Schunard.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:33 AM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Probably goes without saying that I'd like to go to cat heaven. I said it anyhow.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:52 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]


Patrick (H) Willems explores The Glorious Horror of Cats in which he touches on the design choices, the director's history, and a quick history of musicals in Hollywood while explaining why he expects this to be really weird and that he can't wait to see it.
posted by nubs at 6:54 PM on August 16 [1 favorite]


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