Since July, I have been conducting a thorough scientific inquiry into What Is Cats? So far, I have only questions, no answers, as I try to determine What Is Cats, a question seemingly designed to boggle even the sharpest minds. My first hypothesis is that Cats is a coke-induced mania, but I am working on a second hypothesis that Cats is, in fact, some dark and arcane magic meant to destroy the souls of those who gaze upon it. A new trailer for Cats has dropped, I challenge you to watch it and not feel like it is trying to suck the soul from your body. I have one million more questions about Cats now that I have seen this second, terrifying trailer. Here are but a few:
How is it possible that the cat people look MORE naked as cats than they would if they were just naked human beings?
I still don’t understand why some cats wear clothes and other cats do not, is it because some of the cats have come to know shame?
How does a cat learn shame? Follow-up question: How can I teach my cat shame, and if I did teach her shame, would she act any better?
What is the story of Cats?
IS there a story? I have watched two trailers now and still have no idea what this is about beyond some kind of cat beauty pageant.
The cats are competing to be…reborn? Is that why they need our human souls, in order to revive a cat after some kind of ritual cat sacrifice?
IS THERE RITUAL CAT SACRIFICE IN THIS MOVIE?
Another question about Cats is why, exactly, it is missing the deadline for Golden Globes consideration. This movie is tailor-made for those batty starf-ckers at the HFPA, so it’s a bit weird Cats won’t be eligible for Best Comedy/Musical because it won’t screen on time for consideration (it’s not unusual for effects-heavy movies to be worked on right up until the last minute, I’m just surprised that Universal didn’t prioritize being ready for award consideration). Cats isn’t expected to be available for screening until mid-December, which means it is missing eligibility for the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, New York Film Critics, and National Board of Review. I vote in the awards granted by the Chicago Film Critics Association, and it’s missing our eligibility, too.
Not that I expected Cats to really nail award season, let’s be honest. This is a lavish production full of A-list stars, but outside the HFPA, is anyone really considering Cats a contender? It looks absolutely batsh-t insane. Maybe Taylor Swift has a shot for Best Original Song, maybe the Art Directors Guild will be won over by the bizarrely proportioned built sets for cat-scale POV and give it a Best Production Design nod. But really, is Cats a contender? Don’t get me wrong, I fully intend to see Cats and I bet it’s a helluva good time. But I bet it’s a good time in the way that bad movies are. Like I can’t wait for the “How Did This Get Made” episode on Cats. The fact that Universal is taking an apparently lackadaisical approach to award season says it all. If they thought it had a shot, they would have made sure it was ready in time. And they’re opening it against Star Wars, which previously seemed like a case of counter-programming, but the more I see of Cats, the more I think they might be burying the movie, giving themselves a built-in excuse for bad box office. I know Cats was a very popular stage show. I assume those fans will show up for the movie adaptation, as will Swifties. But if you suspect you can’t stand out, why not make sure you won’t stand out? Star Wars is going to swallow the box office on 12/20. Cats posting even modest numbers against Star Wars would be a win. The real question for Cats is if this is secretly a smart strategy for a movie that looks so strange and off-putting.