Written by Tom Moore
Of all the Broadway plays that I ever thought could be brought to film, I can’t say I ever expected to see Cats be one of them.
It’s not because it’s a bad show or that it doesn’t deserve it — it’s just not the easiest show to look at because of, well, people dressed as cats. It’s known for being a strange watch, so it would seem like a risky choice to create a film adaptation that audiences would feel weird watching, right?
Well, someone out there doesn’t think so and even believes that Christmas is the perfect time for Cats to make it to the big screen. Now, after seeing the trailer, I’m left feeling horrified yet oddly hopeful.
On first viewing, it’s incredibly easy to write off and make fun of Cats as the characters’ looks are pretty much begging the internet to make memes. I really don’t understand why they’re using CGI to create cats because the play isn’t like that and, personally, I think the cats look less startling there than in the film. Sometimes, the effects do look great, but in the case of certain shots of Jason Derulo and Jennifer Hudson, it looks like their faces are about to come off of their heads.
Also, as someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about or has even seen the show, I wish the film delved a little bit deeper into the character or the story to help soften the blow of how distracting the looks are. For instance, instead of just showing big names, like James Corden and Taylor Swift, they should’ve shown the big names alongside the characters they play so that fans can connect the two and so that newcomers won’t just look at this and say: “Oh, that’s what they look like as cats.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they banked on the fact that people would be interested just because of how cringe-inducing the characters look, but even with the images now forcibly ingrained in my mind, it doesn’t make me excited that this is in my near future—especially around Christmas.
Now, with all of that said, upon viewing the trailer a couple more times, there’s definitely a lot about Cats that shouldn’t just label it as a horrific mess. The choreography from Andy Blankenbuehler, of Hamilton fame, looks incredible and the set-design has the perfect amount of fantasy and allure to have me mesmerized. The world feels large in scale, yet still looks as if it’s being done on a stage and I kind of love that.
All the right kind of players are assembled with the likes of Ian McKellan, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, and Corden playing main characters. Even on the singing front, having strong singers like Hudson, Swift, Derulo and Rebel Wilson definitely shows that there is a lot of promise for fun musical numbers. Not to mention, Hudson’s performance of “Memory,” the show’s most well-known song, is great and perfectly scores the entire trailer.
Even having Francesca Hayward, who is one of the best ballet dancers at the world-renowned Royal Ballet in London, being a part of the production is a promising sign and she looks stunning in the trailer. I’ll even say that having Tom Hooper, regardless how you feel about him as a director, is a solid sign as he’s at least no rookie with musicals.
Overall, all I can say about Cats is what Pop Break writer George Heftler told me: “At least it sort of looks like Cats.” I think to say that this trailer shows that Cats is a horrific mistake is a bit of an early call and, if you can get past the eye sores that are the characters, there’s a lot of promise that could shape up to be a solid time. I wouldn’t say that this is a strong showing for the film, especially considering that it’s coming out the same weekend as Star Wars: Episode IX, and it has a lot of work to do in order to shake the shock of being a creepy cat movie, but I think that there’s something bold and risky about Cats that’s worth not writing it off just yet.