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By Lauren Huff
December 21, 2019 at 11:00 AM EST
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Warning: This article contains spoilers for Cats.

Describing to someone what it’s like to watch Tom Hooper’s Cats is a near Herculean task. This is because, however weird you think it’s going to be based on its internet-breaking trailer, it’s somehow even more bizarre than that.

Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running Broadway musical of the same name, the film stars the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Hayward, a group of actors playing cats that are essentially trying to convince their cat-leader (Judi Dench) that they should be the one to go to their version of heaven, the Heaviside Layer, and be given new life.

Anyone who watched the Cats trailer ahead of time was clued in to the weirdness of what the filmmaking team dubbed its “digital fur technology,” in which all of the actors were turned into humanoid cats with digitally added fur, tails, and ears. But the bizarre fun does not stop there — it goes much, much further.

Cats
Credit: Universal Pictures

Here are the most bonkers, what-on-Earth-did-I-just-watch moments from Cats:

Mice children and cockroach people
Yes, you read that right. Towards the beginning of the film, just as you’re still getting used to the cats of it all, Wilson’s character Jennyanydots sings a song about how she teaches mice and cockroaches to be less destructive, and it’s here that the film takes a full-on vacation into the uncanny valley. The mice are revealed to be played by small children with rotund CGI mice bodies, and the cockroaches are also tiny cockroach people with human faces. As if that wasn’t enough nightmare fuel, these creatures sing and dance, and some of the cockroach people even get eaten.

Jennyanydots unzipping herself
Speaking of Jennyanydots, at two different points in the film, she somehow physically unzips her cat fur to reveal a costume, which rests upon another version of cat fur (?). At both points, a woman in my screening groaned, “Oh noooo.” Oh no, indeed.

The clothes… or lack thereof
Some cats have clothes. Some do not. Some cats have shoes. Some do not. Why? Who determines which cats get clothes and which ones do not? And what in the world is Grizabella (Hudson) supposed to be wearing? And is Old Deuteronomy wearing a fur coat? So many questions…

Macavity
Speaking of clothes, for much of the film, the nefarious cat Macavity (Elba) is wearing a hat and trench coat, befitting of his devilish character. By the end of the film, for some unknown reason, he is no longer wearing clothes. The result is quite jarring.

Cats, but with human hands
The actors’ hands are completely normal human hands, mostly devoid of fur, despite the rest of their bodies being covered in costume and CG fur. It’s particularly noticeable in the slower numbers, such as Grizabella’s “Memory,” where Hudson’s very lovely, very human manicure is on full display.

Catnip scene
To kick off Bombalurina’s (Swift) sultry jazz number “Macavity: The Mystery Cat,” Bombalurina sprinkles catnip onto all the cats, essentially making them high. It’s quite a[n acid] trip.

Ian McKellen
If I had told you going into the film that McKellen would be the most believable feline as Gus the Theatre Cat, you probably would not have believed me, but here we are. He laps up water from a saucer! He paws at his own face! He actually meows! McKellen goes full cat, and it’s the most delightfully absurd performance of the year.

All aboard the hot air balloon chandelier to heaven
Versions of the Cats stage show feature Grizabella ascending to the Heaviside Layer in many different ways; however, in the film, the chandelier at the Jellicle Ball magically transforms into a hot air balloon, which somehow detaches from the roof and floats away into the sky. Just go with it, okay?

Cats, which truly needs to be seen to be believed, is now in theaters.

Related content:

CATS

Cats (2019 movie)

Tom Hooper directs a star-studded adaptation of the long-running Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

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  • Movie
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mpaa
director
  • Tom Hooper

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