The 'Cats' Trailer Has Sent the Entire Internet Down an Existential Spiral of Despair

This is how I feel. | Universal Pictures
This is how I feel. | Universal Pictures

When I was a child, I longed to be a cat. Not an actual cat. (I lived in more of a dog home.) But a cat from the musical Cats. If you spent any time near the New York Tri-State area in the 1990s, you were bombarded with local ads for Andrew Lloyd Webber's spectacular when it was playing "now and forever at the Winter Garden Theatre." The old Cats advertisements held so much promise, were nearly as memorable as the actual show, that when I actually went to see the show with my grandmother and great aunt, finally experiencing, "in a word, cats," I lost my goddamn mind.

But now, a Cats movie is on the way and yesterday evening, everyone on Twitter collectively went wild upon seeing the first deranged footage of Tom Hooper's new cinematic adaptation of the show that ate Broadway. Good old-fashion cosmetics have been replaced with "digital fur technology." The cats have boobs and human hands. Whereas I once wanted to be a cat, now I never want to let a cat near me, lest it curse my soul. (I made my boyfriend film my reaction to my first viewing in an airport lounge.)

Universal Pictures

Let me be clear, I absolutely love this monstrosity. Rarely do you get to see something that seems so hilariously misguided come to life. But, at the same time, what were they thinking???

As far as I can tell, the movie, which comes out December 20 opposite the new Star Wars, will adhere to this same general structure of the play -- basically, it's about cats sharing their personal stories at a Jellicle ball after which one of them will go to the Heavenside Layer, aka die, probably -- except it bulks up the role of Victoria (played here by dancer Francesca Hayward). On stage, she's just a ballerina; here, she's the ingenue with dialogue, new to this world of milk-loving creatures and oversized furniture. 

But, honestly, there are more pressing issues. Like, for instance, the fact that the lady cats have boobs, for which someone should clearly be punished. If the same person is responsible for making the tails come out of the butts the way they do, they should probably be sent to jail. Also: Why does Taylor Swift's catnip-dousing Bombalurina wear tiny little shoes? 

And what about Judi Dench, who was meant to be in the original stage production before she dropped out because of an Achilles tendon injury, which seems like a sign that she should just have not been in Cats ever? JUDI DENCH, ARE YOU OK?????? BLINK TWICE IF JAMES CORDEN IS HOLDING YOU HOSTAGE. 

JUDI ARE YOU OKAY? | Universal Pictures

Screaming reactions to the trailer was swift -- no pun intended. Some people thought that the only way to fix it was to add appropriately spooky scores from other movies like Annihilation's creepy riff or Us's remix of "I Got Five On It." 

Others let their minds go to the darkest possible place. (We checked Deviantart. Luckily, we've been spared... so far.)

For a brief moment, the Cats trailer united anyone with eyes. We were all powerless to process what was in front of us. Look no further than this mess of tweets:

Cats has always been weird. But whereas its weirdness once felt quaint and -- yes, I'm going to say it -- magical in its professional-but-also-sort-of-DYI bizarreness, it now feels plumbed from the recesses of a miserable acid trip. And while these deeply, upsettingly strange visuals may be off-putting in an extreme way, I'm also obsessed. I can't look away. I'm like Grizabella the Glamour Cat clinging to my memories, but also ready to enter this brave new world.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.