The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house.
All that cold, cold, wet day.
That’s how simple Dr. Seuss started his book The Cat in the Hat from 1957, which had 220 rhyming lines. The book was meant to both stimulate children with colorful images and teach them to learn to read at the same time. There never were any dirty jokes, never were there any product placements by Hollywood folks or even any “get your pet spayed or neutered” message.
When Seuss’ book was adapted into film form by director Bo Welch and screenplay writers Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer (all responsible for Seinfeld), The Cat in the Hat lost the warm innocence of a story about the imagination of two children stuck inside their house because of a storm. The book has been so outrageously twisted into something it was never meant to be, it becomes overwhelmingly infuriating.
Mike Myers, as The Cat, acts more absurd than he has as any character before.
It seems at points as though the movie is one long and painful, rejected skit from Myers’ earlier career with Saturday Night Live mixed with Austin Powers type jokes. Getting a hat erection from looking at a foldout of the children’s mother is hardly what Dr. Seuss had in mind for his Cat; he never said “dirty hoe” in the book either. Sure, jokes like this are intended to keep parents’ attention, but those parents’ likely read the book and expect more for their children.
Kelly Preston plays the mom, whom the film makes absolutely clear to be single. She works for a hand-sanitizing freak, Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes). Preston is quite attractive and the film capitalizes on this with an over abundance of shots showing off her body. Hayes doubles as the voice of the Fish. This was a rotten choice; for the Fish, there was surely a better voice.
As for the children, Dakota Fanning plays Sally, younger sister of Conrad (Spencer Breslin), her character is made out to be a control freak and a suck up. Fanning, who also starred in the big screen version of Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, fits this role perfectly. Breslin, whose character always does the opposite of what his mom tells him to do, fits the role as well as Fanning. It is a shame they had to be around this modernized version of The Cat though.
Alec Baldwin is Laurence Quinn, neighbor to the children, who wants to marry their mother for money and send Conrad to military school. Baldwin’s portrayal of a conniving slob out to rob the children’s mom is good, but does not have any real moral value for young viewers at all.
The well imagined Thing One and Thing Two are exciting throughout the film. The Things’ scenes have decent special effects. However, the original story is reduced by poor humor when Thing Two wants to be called “Chocolate Thunder” because it is not second to Thing One.
The makeup and special effects created by Steve Johnson are original and the world the film takes place in does look like some of Seuss’ original drawings. The set and the effects are by far the best part of the movie.
Albeit the film is almost hypnotic with its used of color and effects, but the movie adds so much that The Cat in the Hat only remotely resembles what it used to be. The additions, like a slow motion shot of Paris Hilton dancing and the words “Hang in there, baby,” make the film less entertaining and more upsetting. The adult humor is meant to be surreptitious, but borderlines on obscenity.