Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Mike Myers as The Cat
Alec Baldwin as Quinn
Kelly Preston as Mom
Dakota Fanning as Sally
Spencer Breslin as Conrad
Amy Hill as Mrs. Kwan
Sean Hayes as Mr. Humberfloob/Voice of the Fish
Danielle Chuchran as Thing One
Taylor Rice as Thing One
Brittany Oakes as Thing Two
Talia-Lynn Prairie as Thing Two
Dan Castellaneta as Thing One/Thing Two (voice)
Victor Brandt as Narrator (voice)
Daran Norris as Announcer
Bugsy as Nevins
Frank Welker as Nevins (voice)
Clint Howard as Kate the Caterer
Paige Hurd as Denise
Steven Anthony Lawrence as Dumb Schweitzer
Paris Hilton as Female Club-Goer
Candace Dean Brown as Secretary
Stephen Hibbert as Jim McFinnigan
Roger Morrisey as Mr. Vompatatat

Special Features:
Seussville USA

Feature Audio Commentary

Deleted Scenes

Outtakes and more

10 Behind-the-Scenes Featturettes Including:

The Purr-fect Stamp

The Real Dr. Seuss

Dance-Along with the Cat

The Mother of All Messes

Music to A Cat's Ears

The Dirt on D.I.R.T.

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
English, Spanish, and French Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film is based on the classic children's book by Dr. Seuss.

While their single mother works all day, Sally and Conrad stay at home with a babysitter. Conrad spends the day destroying the house and generally getting into trouble. Sally is the exact opposite. She is bossy, ultra-organized, and a control freak. On this particular day their mother must host an important evening party at the house for her boss. The kids are left with the babysitter Mrs. Kwan with strict instructions not to cause any problems. Bored out of their minds, they soon find more trouble than they ever expected when the Cat in the Hat appears.

The Cat is a wild, carefree creature with seemingly magical powers. He's able to make fantastic machines and creatures appear out of nowhere at the drop of the hat (pun intended). His goal is to calm Conrad down and to get Sally to loosen up. Unfortunately, his methods tend to cause mass destruction in the house.

At one point in the party Conrad opens a crate that is the doorway between the real world and the Cat's magical world. If they don't recover the crate's lock (which is on their lost dog's collar), then the house will be transformed beyond repair. Thus begins a chase to catch the dog, recover the lock, and put the house back to normal before Mom finds out. Their only obstacle is their Mother's evil boyfriend.

The Cat in the Hat is rated PG for mild crude humor and some double-entendres.

The Movie:
As a kid I read all of the Dr. Seuss books, so I was interested in seeing how it would be adapted on the big screen. My daughter has also recently become interested in the books, so she was very excited to see the film. I had pretty high expectations for the movie and they were not met, but my kid thoroughly enjoyed it. There's no doubt it's a crowd-pleasing film.

Mike Meyers is pretty good as The Cat. His performance is a mix of the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz and the lady from the Coffee Talk sketch from Saturday Night Live. Overall it's a mixed bag, but he is pretty entertaining. Jim Carrey was better as The Grinch, but the characters are unique. Meyers is most funny when he spins off into side performances. His infomercial bit (as seen in the trailers) is one of the funnier moments in the movie. Another scene when the Cat is mistaken for a piñata at a birthday was also hilarious. A performance as a hippie activist is also a high point of the story.

Meyers works very well with the children played by Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin. While both of the children are excellent, Dakota Fanning particularly stands out as Sally. Her no nonsense attitude and bossy nature are perfectly realized by the pint sized actress. Amy Hill is also pretty funny as the seemingly narcoleptic Mrs. Kwan.

The sets in The Cat in the Hat are quite impressive. They aren't as wild as the ones in The Grinch, but they are a mix of the familiar and surreal. It's just enough to be appropriately Seussian.

While The Cat in the Hat was entertaining, I still had some problems with it. First of all was the adult humor. All of it went over children's heads, but it still seemed inappropriate for a kid's movie. At one point The Cat yells out "Son of a bi...!" before he's cut off. At another point he tells the children the name of his car which has the acronym "SH*T". At another point he looks at a centerfold of the mother and his hat rises up. Alec Bladwin also yells out "Judas Priest!" (That might be a line from Green Eggs & Ham, though I could be wrong.) There are several other things along the way that you'll hope your kid won't understand. You don't want your kid telling their cousins at Thanksgiving, "My favorite part in the movie was when The Cat yelled, 'Son of a bi**h!'" That will probably have Dr. Seuss rolling in his grave.

And often, despite looking like a Dr. Seuss book, it didn't always feel like it. For example, there's almost no rhyming in the movie. The Cat even flat out says early in his appearance that he won't rhyme. I liked the fact that The Grinch used much of the original book's text in the movie, but The Cat in the Hat seems to use very little of it. Other things don't seem Seuss-like. At one point the Cat and the kids run into an underground dance club to get away from Alec Baldwin's character. Why people are dancing in a club under a suburban town in the middle of the work day is beyond me. The Cat even busts a move with Paris Hilton who has a cameo role. (I guess she was taking a break from starring in her other feature films, now playing on the internet near you.)

The Extras:
First off, I have to say that Universal DVDs annoy me because they force you to watch all of the trailers. You can't skip ahead to the menu at all. You either have to watch them or fast forward through them and it is quite inconvenient. On top of this the menus have the two children from the film nagging you to make a selection. It's kind of annoying as well.

As for the bonus features, most of them are geared toward the kiddies. The "Dance-Along with the Cat" feature is a prime example of this. It has a dancer in a Cat costume teaching dance moves (with his back to the camera) to children. Once kids learn all the moves, they can do a whole dance number with the Cat to the Smashmouth tune from the credits. I can't imagine adults getting a big kick out of this. There are also a whole ton of "Making Of" videos covering a variety of subjects including the creation of Seussville, the Kids, the Hat, the Cat, the Fish, the D.I.R.T., the Music, the real Dr. Seuss, and more. They feature interviews with Mike Meyers, the kids, the rest of the cast, director Bo Welch, and the other crew members. The videos are definitely geared towards children, but they do have some interesting information in them. They show the Cat makeup process, real footage of Ted Giesel (Dr. Seuss), some bizarre Seussical instruments made for the soundtrack, and more. There's even a short video on the making of the U.S. postage stamp for Dr. Seuss. Each of these videos is 5 minutes or less in length.

Here are a few of the other bonus features included on the DVD:

Feature Audio Commentary – The audio commentary included on this DVD is by Alec Baldwin and director Bo Welch. It's not a terrible commentary, but it would have been a whole lot better with Mike Meyers and the children participating. I don't know why they weren't included. Welch throws out all sorts of info about the filming of the movie while Baldwin plays more the role of spectator on the commentary. He asks questions, throws out a few of his own anecdotes, and other stuff.

Deleted Scenes – Sixteen deleted scenes are included on this DVD. They range from very short in length to very long. One of the most notable is an extended sequence in the dance club where the Cat does a big dance number with Paris Hilton. Another notable sequence takes place in a TV shop where the kids and the Cat attempt to rescue the dog while Alec Baldwin's character buys a TV. In a funny move Cat pretends to be a rug on the floor and proceeds to get stomped royally by people (and even a hockey team). There's also a series of sequences where Thing 1 and Thing 2 attempt to delay Mom with a flood across a road. One of the flood sequences implies that all the water is one of the Thing's pee, so it's probably left on the cutting room floor. Another deleted scene shows a cut line from the Cat's musical number where he utters yet another near profanity. Then another scene later on shows the Cat sliding on a Slip N Slide while looking at a centerfold. As if the movie didn't have enough adult material, these deleted scenes show that they intended more.

Outtakes – There are 20 outtakes included in the extras. They are all extremely brief and generally feature Meyers, Baldwin, and the kids flubbing their lines. Baldwin is shown repeatedly yelling out profanities in front of the children when he screws up. Spencer Breslin is also shown tripping and falling hard with the dog during a running scene.

The Bottom Line:
The Cat in the Hat is worth checking out once, but your enjoyment of the film may depend on your attitude towards Mike Meyers, the original books, and whether or not you have to explain to a child why the Cat sang about getting his balls cut off.

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