FIRST LOOK: Cats – What is Cats about?

Cats will be dancing, singing and clawing into theaters at the end of December. Are you ready? Will you be going to see this in the theater, waiting for it on streaming, or have no interest/curiosity in seeing at all?

What we know so far from the first trailer releases and previews about the plot is, well, mysterious at best. The musical play it is based off is not known for an amazing amount of plot structure, it is known for great singing and dancing.

Check this BBC article:

People had been hoping for a toe-tapping adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit Broadway musical, itself adapted from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Instead they found themselves gawping at a dark fantasy set in a dystopian netherworld populated by mutant cat-human hybrids.

BBC – Culture – The Cats movie trailer is much weirder than many expected
Is Cats a mesmerizing musical or taken from the … Twilight Zone?

When I think of T.S Eliot, my immediate thought is a classic master poet from the early 1900s. Poems by their very nature are a short, rhythmic art form, often filled with massive allegory and interpretation. Movies can be symbolic, too, but I’d argue that the average moviegoer public will not accept heavy symbolism films if the movies aren’t first and foremost entertaining.

Not trying to insult the average moviegoer, but arguing that most people don’t go to movies for agendas, lectures and deep intellectual reflection. Film reviewers and critics may often engage in this type of illuminating study, but Joe Every Man and Jane Every Woman are not as openly receptive.

Movies as Allegory

Let me add emphasis. Yes, art is subjective, but I don’t personally enjoy watching movies the same way i enjoy digesting poetry. Movies I don’t look primarily as an allegory, to receive political, social activism, and symbolism. Tell me a great story first. Recently, I had an interesting comment discussion on Queen & Slim because the commenter felt I didn’t interpret the film as an allegory.

Let’s see if Cats official trailer #2 tells us anything more about the story:

Cats official trailer #2

If Cats is a horror or mystery, this type of bizarre promotion would be good, but for a more festive, musical picture being released during the holidays (between Christmas and New Year’s), it is having more of a Willy Wonka weird effect on people.

Here is what Rotten Tomatoes shows for movie info:

Universal Pictures and Working Title’s Cats is a most-unexpected film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved smash musical “Cats” and the poems from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” by T.S. Eliot. Oscar (R)-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) brings astonishing new technology to transform his cast members. Acclaimed casting director Lucy Bevan is casting the film adaptation. The epic will be produced by Hooper and Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, as well as fellow Les Misérables producer Debra Hayward-who brought the idea to Working Title. CATS will be produced by Working Title Films in association with Monumental Pictures and The Really Useful Group and executive produced by three-time Oscar (R) winner Steven Spielberg, Lloyd Webber and Angela Morrison. Hooper and Lee Hall (Billy Elliott, War Horse) have adapted the story for the screen. One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, “Cats” received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981-where it played for 21 record-breaking years and almost 9,000 performances. The groundbreaking production based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” was the winner of the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983 the Broadway production became the recipient of s

Rotten Tomatoes Cats movie info as of 12/2/2019 — Cut off exactly as above

That movie info is filled a ton of words that tell us absolutely nothing about the story. Great, Cats was popular on the stage circuit and the poem was legendary, but …. what is this musical about?

Thank goodness we have Google to answer the riddle:

Google search for “what is cats about”

This description is a start. At least we learn this is about Jellicles and the night they ascend and are reincarnated(?) Maybe?


This mystery will make some moviegoers want to go see it more, but my guess is more will be waiting for the first wave of reviews to come back. If the song and dance are amazing, perhaps the seemingly wafer-thin plot will be less an issue. Those who don’t want to spend hard earned money watching that type of entertainment will pass.

It’s difficult, maybe even impossible, to make a poem into a full length movie. Just might not be enough meat to cover the skeleton. We’ll soon find out.

Cats opens wide in theaters on December 20, 2019.

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