Here It Is: The Exhaustive Breakdown of Every Shot In The CATS Trailer

Thanks, I… love it.

sarah james
Jul 19 · 11 min read

Yesterday, the Cats trailer broke the Internet. Between the uncanny valley, the cat breasts, and James Corden, there’s a lot that could go wrong, and yet — has anything ever been more right?

I’m so pumped for this movie. I love the musical Cats. Un-ironically, I might add. People like to act like they are visionaries or bold truth-tellers for hating this musical, and I want to stress most people hate this musical. Most theatre people, at least. Even people who think Rent is great (lol fuck Rent) think Cats is nonsense.

Which, let me stress, it absolutely is.

Cats the musical is utter madness. It’s messy, senseless, all spectacle, utterly brainless. And it works. This musical fucking works. It’s uniquely theatrical. It requires insanely talented performers. It’s joyously uncynical while also not feeling the need to point out every other song how uncynical it’s being. Cats knows what it is, and is that full fucking throttle.

That means it’s either your jam or it’s not. And if it’s not your jam, that’s fine, but you look a little stupid pointing it out like you’re smarter than everyone. No one likes the musical Cats because they’ve confused it for Twelfth Night. They just… like it.

Cats the musical is extremely my jam, and has been for seventeen years. This trailer, this movie, is my Star War. So let’s break it down shot-for-shot, nerd-style.


That sweet sweet “Memory” intro music plays as some cats scurry across a brick road.

The cats are partially cut out of the frame, so there’s only a hint of the horror to come.

The outline of light-colored cat (possibly Victoria?) from behind, looking out over the junkyard (presumably.)

Again, the cat is framed from behind, so it’s not clear what actual living nightmare is to come.

In an alley, a few cats scurry away from a car’s headlights.

Fans of the stage show will obviously remember the importance of the car onstage. I wonder what the novelty license play will be in the movie: T. HOOPZ?

On a street with a shocking amount of neon light, Victoria turns around to face the camera.

This is it — the first time we see Tom Hooper’s CGI catheads in full light. This is not your grandmother’s Cats. This is a furless, body-painted, human eyebrows but cat whiskers, lipstick for some reason, human/cat nightmare hybrid straight from those Animorphs book covers that have haunted me for 20 years.

There are children who will scream in terror at this movie. A whole generation scarred for life. But there will be other children, others who smile and whisper in a soft, hollow tone: “Kitty.” They are the ones to fear.

As Jennifer Hudson begins to sing MEMORY…

TEXT: ONE NIGHT

Whether this is in reference to the musical taking place in one night, or some sort of ominous warning, is unclear.

Mistoffelees and Victoria run through a street lit like it was discarded from Detective Pikachu.

Hey, couldn’t they get the Detective Pikachu people to do this movie? Those monsters were CUTE.

The pair run past a place called “MILK BAR” which posits that either some cats are small business owners, or Momofuku has finally made its way to London’s East End!

Misto & Vicki reach a gate with some other cats (unclear, perhaps Munkustrap?) behind it.

Maybe-Munku and Vicki grab the gate bars and leer at each other which is pretty stupid because they could easily just… walk through the bars of the gate. You know. Like cats do?

Now we’re in a graveyard. Maybe-Munku crouches behind a headstone as Victoria, looking a little unsure, ventures out into the moonlight.

Hey, I wonder if moonlight will be an important motif in this movie.

Munkustrap takes Victoria’s hand. Paw. Hand. Oh god, the hands.

This definitely looks like Munku in this shot — he’s more of that classic Munkustrap intense gray with dark stripes.

Also, Victoria has some mild stripe action going on, and I don’t care for it.

TEXT: ONE CHANCE

To die. If you don’t know what Cats is about, that’s what it’s about. The cats are competing for the chance to die. #2019 am I right?

EXT. STREET — NIGHT

ANOTHER shot of the milk bar, but this time the sign is different. THERE ARE MULTIPLE LOCATIONS OF MILK BAR. Who told the cats about franchise opportunities??

Old Dencheronomy says “I haven’t seen you before, have I?”

First of all, where’s the outrage over this gender-blind casting?! It’s almost like men’s right activists don’t enjoy musical theater?

Anyway, Dencheronomy is wearing what looks like a fabulous fur coat, which — I mean — I guess I’m glad someone gets some fur? But Tom Hooper knows most cats have fur? Right? Like. Kind of a standard cat feature, really.

Now, those familiar with the plot of Cats might assume that “I haven’t seen you before, have I?” might be said to Grizabella, who is not part of the gathering of eponymous cats, and has been around the block so much that it takes a minute before she’s recognized.

But it looks like Dencheronomy is speaking to Victoria — which means — oh god — I think Tom Hooper is trying to make a plot around the sexy white cat who does nothing in the stage show but get ravished by an ensemble member (it’s not Mistoffelees anymore, at least not in the US 6th National Tour — we’ll come back to this) in the first ten minutes of the show and then ravished again right before Intermission and then do literally nothing else.

Victoria, Mistoffelees, and some other cats, look at us in earnest.

Oh god Mistoffelees looks so fucking stupid. He has a top hat, and his ears poke through the top hat. I mean. Where did he get that? The stupid fucking hats for cats store? He’s also wearing a sequined blazer with the four playing cards suits on the lapels. He would fit right in in that shot from Arrested Development of Gob and the magicians’ alliance saying “We demand to be taken seriously!”

they’re ILLUSIONS, munkustrap

I guess we can address this now… in the most recent tour, Mistoffelees is about as canonically gay as a cat can get in a show that’s… about cats. He descends from the ceiling in a jacket that lights up rainbow, then streams rainbows all over the place, and when he and Rum Tum Tugger embrace it is… there’s tension, people. There’s tension. That and the fact that he’s replaced in the aforementioned ravishment of Victoria during “The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball” and, well, Cats finally has an out-and-proud gay cat (only 15 years after I put it in my fanfiction you know what nevermind)

But this Mistoffelees… *exhales* this is the straightest Mistoffelees I’ve ever seen. This Mistoffelees is aggressively straight. This Mistoffelees only wears basketball shorts and gets mad when you ask him to change before your friends come over even though you can see the outline of his whole dick and balls. This Mistoffelees plays fantasy football. This Mistoffelees wants to talk to you about the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.

Which leads me to my next concern… if they make Victoria the “lead” … are we gonna get a Victoria/Mistoffelees “romance”?

Tom Hooper… no. No, Tom Hooper. Bad!

Old Dencheronomy spins around in her fur coat with a flourish that I’m positive has been gif’ed already.

All the cats storm a door to… somewhere.

It looks like some kind of church, based on the stained glass doors… but there’s also weird sarcophagus things? Maybe a museum? Is this a famous building I should know?

Grizabella’s here!

Honestly, Jennifer Hudson is too young to be Grizabella. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked, and she sings the hell out of “Memory.” But I like my Grizabellas like I like my second act of a Sondheim musical: featuring a booze-soaked Patti LuPone.

Victoria walks into the church/museum.

Ugh. Her tail has so much gray in it. Did they even WATCH the stage show??!??!?!??!!!

TEXT: FOR A NEW LIFE

I’m deeply concerned with how much plot they seem to be trying to inject into this. I know, I know. “Movies have to have plot.” You sound like all my screenwriting professors!!! But the point of Cats is not the story. The point of Cats is you laugh because, haha, cats really be like that! And you see some good dancing and then you go home.

Victoria and Mistoffelees (sans jacket) ransack a rich lady’s house.

Isn’t this Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer’s thing? Stop stepping on Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser’s thing, y’all.

They’re joined by two other cats in a feather fuck-fest on the bed. These cats are wantonly destructive, y’all! Haha… cats really be like that.

Straight Mistoffelees humbly holds his stupid fucking hat.

“Please, sir, may I have some more Axe body spray?”

Victoria looks at Mistoffelees.

“it’s curious because white stands for purity and yet she super wants to fuck” — tom hooper probably

Fuck, Tom Hooper ships it.

A cat looks out the fancy window in whatever building this is.

Grizabella appears from behind a curtain.

Seriously, she looks fine. Straightoffelees looks more busted.

Victoria does her Invitation to the Jellicle Ball solo in the Graveyard.

“Graveyards have dead bodies in them. And yet, this is where the cats are, alive. Really makes you think.” — Tom Hooper probably

Old Dencheronomy is definitely talking to Victoria, says something like “Come, it’s about to begin.”

Probably the Jellicle Ball. Also this is the inside of that fancy building, and inside there’s… two chairs. That’s it. Like. There’s an exhibit at The Broad of some giant chairs and tables that’s more lush than this.

Rum Tug Derulo dances on the counter of what appears to be the Milk Bar.

Given the scale of the objects, it appears this is an establishment for humans. Is Tom Hooper gonna get sued by Momofuku? (PLEASE.)

The kittens watch Rum Tug Derulo shake his penis, their extremely human hands pressed up on the counter.

The hands… it’s the hands that get me. Never have human hands looked so disturbing. Can’t wait to discuss “human hands: are they just arm feet?” with my therapist.

Out on the street, Rum Tug Derulo is LETTING LOOSE. We transition to that upbeat Jellicle Ball music!

Now begins the EXTREMELY LONG LIST OF PEOPLE THEY BLACKMAILED I MEAN CONVINCED LEGITIMATELY TO BE IN THIS MOVIE:

JAMES CORDEN (Bustopher Jones)

His Bustopher Jones looks exactly like what you’d expect, which is to say, pretty much just like James Corden.

JUDI DENCH (Old Deuteronomy)

This is the one that baffles me the most, I’ll admit it. I could see Judi playing one of the stupid one-song cats just for the lolz but Dencheronomy looks like she’s in a fair amount of the movie. Dame Judi… u ok?

JASON DERULO (Rum Tum Tugger)

Ed Helms was robbed.

IDRIS ELBA (Macavity)

He’s also got a cat hat but he’s pulling it off. For the record? Still would.

JENNIFER HUDSON (Grizabella)

Like… was Imelda Staunton busy? Bernadette? Dammit, I want my diva!

IAN MCKELLEN (Gus)

These are the lengths you must turn to when you’re 80 and haven’t won your Oscar yet, kids.

TAYLOR SWIFT (Bombalurina)

Might I say, doing the best work of her career!

REBEL WILSON (Jennyanydots)

Rebel Wilson looks like she’s in a completely different movie than everyone else. This looks like a kid’s movie from one of those off-brand Pixars that you see a trailer for before an actual Pixar movie, one that’s called “Catz” with a z and features the voices of everyone from The Office.

God, the way the music cuts out so she can “tap” “dance” is… I mean… even the kids watching the Catz trailer aren’t laughing at that.

AND INTRODUCING FRANCESCA HAYWARD (Victoria)

The fact that Victoria, a character who says nothing in the stage show, gets an “and introducing” credit only adds fuel to my conspiracy, tentatively called “Victoria Watergate: Tom Hooper Got His First Boner During The White Cat’s Solo When He Saw Cats As A Child And That’s Been The Driving Force Behind His Whole Career”

I mean, it would explain The King’s Speech.

TOUCH MEEEEEEEE”

…okay? you look very clean.

TEXT: ACADEMY AWARD (R) WINNING DIRECTOR TOM HOOPER

“IT’S SO EASY TO LEAVE MEEEEEE”

If you don’t like this song you’re a monster or a dog person or both.

TEXT: DIRECTOR OF “LES MISERABLES” AND “THE KING’S SPEECH”

Ah yes, a perfect time to remind everyone you’ve already butchered one movie musical AND you’ve worked with Harvey Weinstein!

The shots are coming fast and furious now, so here’s a few highlights:

SKIMBLESHANKS!

He’s wearing pants, for some reason! IDK! Everything’s a fucking free-for-all!

CORICOPAT AND TANTOMILE!

I hope the movie stays true to their personalities as established in the stage musical!!

Straightoffelees jumps in the air holding up a giant bra and laughing.

If this isn’t some frat house bullshit…

Victoria pounds some silverware on the table.

Because that’s the one thing everyone knows cats have: functioning thumbs.

Bustopher Jones spits on Victoria and then they… eject him into the air?

Seems like a missed opportunity to use a catapult. ;)

TEXT: AND FROM ANDY BLANKENBUEHLER, CHOREOGRAPHER OF HAMILTON

“This is just like Hamilton.” — Tom Hooper probably

Never forget that the original choreographer of Cats died mad that they changed her work for the Broadway revival. Also never forget that I watched the DVD of Cats so many goddamn times that I could… (deep sigh) I could tell the new choreography from the old when I saw the tour.

TEXT: BASED ON THE LEGENDARY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER / T.S. ELIOT STAGE MUSICAL

Always thought “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” makes more sense as a musical. I mean “song” is right there in the title!

Victoria prances, flanked by what I’m almost certain now are Mungojerrie and Rumpeleteazser.

Hmm curious, I don’t *remember* Victoria being in that number! Victoria Watergate grows… just like Tom Hooper’s adolescent penis.

Munkustrap lifts Victoria’s chin.

Can almost guarantee there will be tumblrs of preteens horny for Munkustrap. Which is GOOD. He’s responsible, caring, and creative! Lust over him instead of Derulo, kittens. Lust over him!

Macavity stalks along in a fur coat.

Honestly wouldn’t that just be uncomfortable. That’s two fur coats. These cats are gonna be sweating balls, if they still have them! (Spay & neuter your cats!)

Mistoffelees pulls Victoria through the street.

I mean, look — (extremely deflated sigh). A lot of people in the Cats community ship it. Tom Hooper isn’t exactly pulling this one out of thin air. I might have written a fanfic or two where this is one of the pairings. But it’s expected. It’s boring. And Mistoffelees and Rum Tum Tugger are MEANT TO BE TOGETHER OKAY?????

As Hot Munkustrap looks on, Victoria says to Mistoffelees, “Are you going to try for a different life?”

He’s probably gonna answer, like, “Not without you” or some bullshit, huh.

A NEW DAY HAS BEGUN

Outside of the “Royal Claws Hotel,” the cats all silently… heil Hitler?

yeah i know this choreography’s in the show but you don’t see it… from the side…??

TEXT: CATS

TEXT: THIS HOLIDAY SEASON… YOU WILL BELIEVE

Believe in what? That cats exist?

TEXT: DIRECTED BY TOM HOOPER

Didn’t we… didn’t we already have this title card? You gave yourself… two title cards? Tom Hooper… you goddamn maniac.

I’ll give this trailer a standing ovation… just like little Tom Hooper gave… oh, you get it.


Sarah James named her childhood cat Eliot because her mom wouldn’t let her name him Mistoffelees. Find her online at thesarahjames.com or on Twitter at cryingbaseball.

sarah james

Written by

sarah is an editor at slackjaw. her writing has appeared in reductress, splitsider, the toast, and more. thesarahjames.com

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade