That’s one reason you might want to see
Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” the on-screen adaptation of “Cats,” directed by Tom Hooper. Or maybe the trailer scared you off — and if that’s the case, we can’t blame you. We, too, experienced night terrors after watching the 107 seconds of footage that set social media ablaze back in July, and that prompted us to come up with this list of 34 pressing questions.
Having now seen the film, we can tell you that “Cats” isn’t as horrifying as it seems when compressed into a two-minute trailer. Sure, the musical still centers on a cultlike group of animals who compete for the chance to die by floating into the sun, but at its core is a rather traditional story about an outsider who finds community and then extends that goodwill to others. In short, it could be nuttier.
Still curious? Below, we answer — to the best of our ability — the questions we once asked ourselves. (Note: Several of the original points have been combined with others for maximum efficiency.)
Why do some cats have clothes and some cats not have clothes? Who is the tailor for the cats with clothes? Why do some have hats? Why would someone make a hat for a cat?
The clothing seems to be an outward marker of privilege, if anything, as some better-off Jellicles such as Rum Tum Tugger (Jason Derulo) have fluffy coats while others, such as abandoned newcomer Victoria (Francesca Hayward) do not. Then there’s Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson), who has a nice coat because she was once successful but who now lugs it around as if it weighs a million pounds because she is filled with sorrow.
It’s unclear who makes the clothes, but we wouldn’t be surprised if there were a Tippledeedoo the Tailor Cat hidden among the Jellicles. The cats have hats because — in the movie version, at least — their society seems as advanced as one set in old-timey England can possibly be.
Do the cats gain some higher sentience that allows them to walk upright, freed from the chains of walking on all fours?
Apparently, as the cats can switch between walking upright and on all fours whenever they feel like it.
Some of the lighting is cat-size, suggesting these cats have an intellectual grasp of electricity and basic mechanical skills. Is there a contingent of working-class cats who are responsible for the upkeep of this secret cat world while the upper class just runs around, singing whenever they please?
As mentioned previously, there is an element of privilege and class struggle in this particular cat society. Those who are pets have a more comfortable life, but they sometimes feel trapped — which is why Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson), for example, expresses a desire to become a scrappy Jellicle.
So, yes, there are working-class street cats. But they get to sing whenever they please, too.
How can anyone do anything from here on out, knowing they could be watching the “Cats” trailer instead? How angry are the folks behind “Top Gun” for releasing a trailer on the same day as “Cats?"
It’s truly a wonder any of us, let alone the “Top Gun” folks, were able to recover from the “Cats” trailer.
Do dogs exist within the “Cats” universe? How do the cats feel about them? What about birds? If there are birds in this world, are they sentient, as well? Are all of these cats basically murderers?
Yes, dogs do exist. Victoria breaks into a human household with near-identical burglar cats Mungojerrie (Danny Collins) and Rumpleteazer (Naoimh Morgan), and the humans happen to own a dog. We never see it, but we hear its loud bark. That frightens the cats, suggesting they are the weaker species.
No birds to speak of, but we encounter mice who are also played by real actors. The cats are murderers.
Why do the cats have human lips and noses? And if they have human mouths, do they clean themselves? Do they take showers, or are there cat tongues in there?
This is still a great question, and our best guess is that it would’ve been either a) too much work to get the visual effects artists to transform the actors’ faces into authentic cat faces, or b) too weird to see a human voice come out of a real cat’s face. Imagine Hudson belting “Memory” like that!
Unfortunately, the cats do lick themselves with their human tongues — and, perhaps more unfortunately, James Corden licking himself is how we know this. His tongue is much smaller than a cat’s tongue would proportionately be, so the cats in this world are either very stinky or they shower as we do.
Do these cats have retractable claws? Where do the claws go, and, if so, how do their fingers still work with claws in them? Or are they all like Wolverine?
There is a scene in which one of the cats — either Grizabella or Bombalurina (Taylor Swift), but memory fails us — makes a hissing sound that would suggest she also got her claws out, but she just has long, manicured fingernails. Sadly, the cats are not like Wolverine.
Why can the cats have human teeth, but Sonic the Hedgehog can’t? How are the Sonic the Hedgehog animators doing, anyway?
This is also a good question, and the answer seems to be because the people at Paramount and Sega care a whole lot more about online outrage than those at Universal do. Plus, the reactions to “Cats” being insane — which, to be fair, makes up a lot of this post — seem to work in its favor.
But wait, if the world is human-size, does that mean there are humans?
It would seem so. While we never see the humans, just as we never see the dogs, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer’s entire song is about messing with the things that belong to humans.
If there are humans, then why aren’t the humans freaking out that there are a bunch of clothes- and hat-wearing bipedal cats who look vaguely like humans and sing show tunes all around London?
We’re choosing to interpret this as a “Toy Story” scenario, where the cats sing and dance when the humans are asleep, and then, the minute they hear footsteps, they return to their regular meowing state. Ignorance is bliss, fellow humans, and everyone in this fictional realm is a fool.
There is a scene with two cats dancing on a dinner table. On the table is a bowl of peas. The bowl of peas is as large as the cats themselves. So if the cats are living in a human world, does that mean the humans are giant or the cats are tiny?
The humans are giant, probably. But, then again, we never see them.
Are the human Milk Bar chain and the cat Milk Bar chain both owned by Christina Tosi? Or is there pending litigation over this matter? Or is Christina Tosi also a cat in this world?
We paid great attention to the Milk Bar and can report that it is called Black and White Milk Bar, suggesting the name is just a coincidence. The “Cats” version also sells sandwiches, after all. We hope with all of our heart that there is a feline Christina Tosi but cannot confirm this.
Is there a cat economy that allows them to pay for things like hats with holes, milk and sometimes clothing?
In terms of food and shelter, the “Cats” characters largely live as we would expect them to: The pet cats are regularly provided with milk and treats by their human owners, while the street cats obtain the bulk of their food from humans’ trash cans. The clothing is a mystery.
Why is James Corden in this? Is he going to win an Oscar before Amy Adams?
Corden is in this because, when you think about it for a second, it makes perfect sense for him to play an English cat named Bustopher Jones. “Beautiful Ghosts,” the original song Swift wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the film, did not make the Oscars shortlist, which could be indicative of the academy’s distaste for “Cats.” Plus, Corden would have to beat Brad Pitt to win best supporting actor.
We’re not saying he won’t win before Adams, because the world is cruel. But it won’t happen this year.
Do the cats listen only to show tunes, or do they enjoy other musical genres and stylings?
Show tunes dominate, but Rum Tum Tugger sings with pizazz.
Isn’t it illegal for Jason Derulo to be in something without announcing his own name first?
You’d think so! Unfortunately, the American government has other priorities.
Is Idris Elba’s involvement in this film consensual? (We can’t tell from this trailer.)
What dirt does Hooper have on this guy? Elba’s performance as bad guy Macavity doesn’t convince us that he wasn’t blackmailed into being in this movie, nor do his appearances on the “Cats” promotional tour. After Stephen Colbert asked him to describe the plot, for example, Elba responded: “It’s one cat’s journey toward what is essentially cat heaven. And the idea is that we all aspire to get [to] cat heaven. There’s this young cat and she gets sort of taken on this story of how to get to cat heaven and what you should do to get into cat heaven. How am I doing? Does anyone know what the story is?”
Do the cats work out?
If all the gyrating and tail-wagging counts as working out, then yes. Rum Tum Tugger and Bombalurina are both depicted as sexy cats — don’t blame us for this blasphemy, we’re just the messengers! — so there’s a good chance they’ve both signed up for a feline Equinox membership.
There’s a scene where a cat is in a bed with goose-feather pillows. Are the cats not horrified by the idea of humans using animal parts for their own comfort? Do they not think they could ever be slaughtered and used for bedding?
Cats rank above birds on the food chain, so they probably aren’t too bothered. The better question might be, whose fur is used to make the cats’ coats? It wouldn’t surprise us if Rum Tum Tugger were a cannibal.
When the Rebel Wilson cat falls, jumps up and begins scatting, we see another cat look down on her with disdain. This cat is sitting on a leather chair. Why are the cats so cavalier about other animals being killed and turned into furniture? Do they connect more with humans than other animals?
The Rebel Wilson cat has a name, and it’s Jennyanydots. Actually, scratch that, “Rebel Wilson cat” it is. There’s a good chance the cats are stupid and don’t know what the leather chair is made of. They are, after all, competing to die via hot-air balloon when there are much easier ways to get to cat heaven.
The Judi Dench cat is wearing fur. Which animal did this fur come from?
IT LOOKS LIKE HER OWN. Old Deuteronomy (Dench) is the most disturbing cat of them all, not only because she persuades the other ones to join her death cult but also because she most definitely coughed up a bunch of hairballs and then knitted them all together — or had Tippledeedoo do it.
The Taylor Swift cat is liberally pouring out catnip the way one might pour out their drink in solidarity of a late friend. Is catnip the same as alcohol in this world? If so, why isn’t it a Catnip Bar instead of a Milk Bar?
The cats act really weird every time Bombalurina sprinkles catnip on them, which suggests it does, indeed, have some sort of mind-altering property. The Milk Bar might serve catnip? We need a menu ASAP.
Why do the cats speak English? All the signs are in English, including the cat-size signs. Does this mean cats can read and write? How did they learn these skills? And why?
The cats speak English because they are in England, duh. We said earlier that they are stupid but perhaps they can read, or Hooper translated their cat-language signs for the viewers’ benefit. Thanks, Tommy!
What happens if we put a laser dot in there?
In one scene, the cats dance in a theater. On the wood planks making up the theater’s floor is what appears to be a pentagram. Do the cats worship Satan?
Might we redirect you to the part about how Judi Dench is leading a death cult? These Jellicle cats claim they want to get to the Heaviside layer, but what/where even is that, really? It could be hell.
Why does this trailer end in Trafalgar Square? Aren’t they in New York? How did they get to London?
Nope, they’re in London the entire time! Bustopher Jones even chastises another cat for mispronouncing the name of the Thames.
This holiday season, will we truly believe?
Believe the devil is real? Sure.