For Taylor Swift, starring in the upcoming Cats movie was the cat’s whiskers. Posting a photo of herself covered in fur to Instagram on Friday, she purred: “I am a cat now and somehow that was everything.”
Was it, though?
Almost as soon as the Cats trailer dropped on the internet, jaws did too. And possibly reputations. Certainly memes. And questions.
At the top of the list: How could something with Steven Spielberg, Swift, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, James Corden and Ian McKellen attached be “scarier than It” without meaning to be?
Also, is it disturbing that cats have breasts, and why are some cats wearing dance shoes and hats and others are nude (Rebel Wilson among them, but it’s hard to say where Jason Derulo was at)?
Within hours of its debut, the video became the most derided in living, uh, memory.
“Heinous and ungodly”, said Pedestrian TV and Elle ran a ‘Five Stages to Dealing with the Cats’ trailer’ story as the clip shot to the No.1 trending spot on Twitter.
So agog was social media that in terms of pure reaction, Cats had it all over Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick when its trailer landed at almost the same time.
Scott Mendelson, film critic for Forbes.com, tweeted on behalf of everyone when he said the trailer is “appropriately terrifying and insane, like a drug nightmare. I can’t wait!”
Directed by British-Australian Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables), the musical is the first movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 unlikely hit stage show.
For those not across the Cats plot, the film is the story of the Jellicle cats, who fight to be selected to travel to a new life in the Heaviside Layer, according to IMdb.
What could go wrong? Technology, it seems.
Instead of cat costumes, the all-star cast is transformed with computer-generated pelts created by what Universal called “digital fur technology”.
And that freaked out film critics including The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde.
I mean, I despised his Les Miz with every fiber of my being, and that was based on a show I *like*. And it didn't look like a mash-up of Foodfight! and the 1.0 version of the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer.
— Alonso Duralde 🌹🌈 (@ADuralde) July 18, 2019
“Now we know why the last two Taylor Swift videos were so insane … she was preparing us,” said Kyle Buchanan, pop culture reporter for The New York Times.
David Erlich, senior film critic for Indie Wire, blamed the director, not the CGI:
from the twisted mind of Tom Hooper pic.twitter.com/6OzHWufvog
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) July 18, 2019
Vanity Fair’s chief critic Richard Lawson was succinct:
"Did I… make this?" – Terry Gilliam watching the CATS trailer
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) July 18, 2019
Then there was the raft of thoughts from the Twittersphere:
— Rebecca Daniel (@beccasfilmblog) July 18, 2019
Therapist: Nightmare James Corden Cat isn't real. It can't hurt you.
Nightmare James Corden Cat: pic.twitter.com/zqTOA8TG2g
— Mitch Feltscheer (@mitchfel) July 18, 2019
I can't believe the Cats trailer is scarier than the IT trailer pic.twitter.com/QPp7Jh7mWB
— Joe 🏳️🌈 (@JoePassmore) July 18, 2019
Me @ the trailer for Cats pic.twitter.com/7orMlHCuKI
— Laney (@TheLameLaney) July 18, 2019
Throughout it all, Ian McKellen pleaded for calm and a second chance:
From comments on the "Behind the Scenes" preview of @catsmovie I posted this morning, most of you are looking forward to it, many are curious, and others have their doubts. Come back Friday to watch the trailer for an even better idea of what you have to look forward to in Dec.
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) July 17, 2019
But back to Swift, who seemed delighted explaining how she embodied being feline in Cats under Hooper’s direction.
“As a cat lover, and a cat owner, he told me I was going to get to go to cat school every day. For work! What?” she said in a behind-the-scenes video.
Cats will be in cinemas on December 20.