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‘Cats’ trailer unites the Internet in abject terror

Universal Pictures/YouTube

Where were you when “Cats” destroyed the best minds of our generation?

The first trailer for Universal’s big-budget adaptation of the Broadway musical arrived Thursday, so collectively traumatizing Twitter that actor-comedian Seth MacFarlane may have summed it up best by posting a gif of Stewie from “Family Guy” rocking back and forth in silent horror.

Most negative reactions to the first look at “Les Misérables” director Tom Hooper’s latest movie-musical focused on its use of so-called “digital fur technology” to create uncanny cat-human hybrids.

In the trailer, actors like Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, and James Corden are covered head-to-toe in a weirdly form-fitting layer of fur and given pointy ears. The results, as many were quick to note online, are unnerving while begging more questions than they answer.


Among the most pertinent: Why? What? How? Who did this to Dame Judi Dench? Are some cats wearing the fur of other cats? If so, did they kill those other cats to wear their skin like ghoulish trophies? Does this mean, unlike “The Lion King,” “Cats” will be brutally accurate in its depiction of feline societal dynamics? Also, wait a minute, why do they have visible breasts? Why are their tails coming out of their rear ends? Are the cats all that small? How much did this thing cost?

“I don’t know what I expected from ‘Cats’ ’ ‘digital fur technology’ but the short answer is NOT this,” entertainment journalist Kristy Puchko wrote on Twitter. “My brain has melted. My eyes are bleeding. There is no god.”

Some compared the trailer to Mike Myers’s ill-fated 2003 “Cat in the Hat” movie, while others referenced the upcoming “Sonic the Hedgehog” film so roundly castigated after its first trailer that director Jeff Fowler later went online to announce producers were pushing back the release date to “fix” the character design.


Other savvy Twitter users decided to provide their own soundtracks to the “Cats” trailer. Comedian Ian Abramson discovered one song that perfectly synched up: the remix of ’90s hip-hop classic “I Got 5 on It” used in Jordan Peele’s doppelganger freakout “Us.”

Peele himself approved the dub, retweeting it while simply writing, “Yes.”

Another popular edit, from MTV News social director Bob Marshall, saw a discordant theme from last year’s sci-fi pic “Annihilation” play over the trailer, with ominous results.

Not all responses to the trailer were as damning.

“It’s not ‘Cats’ if it’s not tacky,” wrote critic K. Austin Collins on Twitter. “Frankly I could use more kitsch!! This is Andrew Lloyd Webber baby.”

Added filmmaker Josh Raby: “Listen, that CATS trailer is bonkers, and we need more bonkers, I regret to inform you: I dug it.”

“ ‘Cats’ had better be 3-D,” offered New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan. “I want to fear them.”

Louis Virtel, cohost of the “Keep It” podcast, voiced his (tongue-in-cheek) confusion on Twitter, writing, “I don’t know why you’re all freaking out over miniature yet huge cats with human celebrity faces and sexy breasts performing a demented dream ballet for kids.”

It’s true that the plot of “Cats” doesn’t exactly lend itself to a “normal” film adaptation.

“Please stop saying the plot of Cats is confusing,” tweeted Buzzfeed’s Louis Peitzman. “The plot of Cats is that they’re cats and they introduce themselves until one of them gets permission to die.”


Take a look at some other online reactions below. “Cats” opens Dec. 20.

Isaac Feldberg can be reached by email at isaac.feldberg@globe.com, or on Twitter at @isaacfeldberg.