Movie Reviews

Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 6 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

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Cast:
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

Summary:
The Cat in the Hat is a fun film, but many of the funniest scenes are in the trailers. Adult humor also may make some parents cringe if the kiddies are present.

Story:
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.

What Worked:
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 as did all of the other kids in the audience. 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.

What Didn’t Work:
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 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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