A Seuss Strike Out pt 2: The Cat in the Hat

cat in hat

There are some movies that are just bad ideas from the start.   A live action Cat in the Hat was one of those movies.  Unlike the Lorax where we have a fairly strong narrative with a fable-like story, the lovely Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is basically a story about having fun on a rainy day.  There’s just not enough heft there for a feature film.

But nevertheless they made the attempt in 2003 and what you got was one of the worst movies ever made.  I have yet to hear of anyone that likes this movie.

The story of Cat in the Hat is 2 kids Conrad and Sally bored on a rainy day.  Their Mother is gone and they have nothing to do when in walks a cat with a hat who is determined to show the kids some fun.

“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how”

This fun consists of balancing a lot of stuff on a ball while the kids fish complains he is making a mess.  When that doesn’t work he unleashes 2 creatures called Thing 1 and Thing 2 who fly a kite in the house and make a mess.  Eventually the Cat helps them clean up and everything is good.

That’s it.  That’s the story.

What does the movie do with said story?  They turn it into a ghastly looking, shoutfest, with double entendres, potty humor, and a general mean spirited nature.  Part of the problem is the film confuses chaos with fun.  Characters shouting and making messes is not in and of itself pleasant to watch or entertaining.  Or maybe it is for 1600 words but not for 82 minutes in a movie!

Mike Myers is the lead cat and it is one of the most ghastly makeup jobs and creatures ever put into a movie.  I’m sure someone could redo the film and turn it into a horror movie.  In the book the cat looks more lean and lengthy but here it is awful.

cat in hat7Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning are the kids and they mostly scream at the Cat for making a mess and getting them in trouble. Again, not fun to watch.

cat in hat2The fish is there but like most things in this movie looks very disturbing instead of cute.

cat in hat9Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive and don’t just fly kites but end up taking kids on amusement park type ride and destroy the house.  It’s not funny or interesting just exhausting.

cat in hat10Then they add plotlines with the kids Mother played by Kelly Preston and her horrible boss played by Sean Hayes.

cat in hat6She also has a horrible boyfriend played by Alec Baldwin who of course hates the kids and wants to send Conrad to military school.   I guess they were trying to add some kind of villain into the mix but it isn’t funny or compelling or fun in any way.

cat in hat5The worst of all is their nanny Mrs Kwan is a narcoleptic who they mock throughout the movie.  Some of it I found to be kind of racist and it is all thoroughly mean.  She’s treated like a human doll to beat up on and I suppose if she was some awful person that would be one thing but she pretty much sleeps the whole movie.  It’s not funny to see a woman treated like that.

cat in hat4Then to top it off we get a rave party scene with Paris Hilton making an appearance.  You know who you always want in your children’s movie- Paris Hilton in a skimpy party number. What were they thinking?

cat in hat8The Cat in the Hat creators need to spend more time with kids to understand what fun is for a child because their attempt to create it falls flat every time.  Nothing is funny and nothing is fun.  When a kid plays they are random but not usually complete chaos.  They may combine their Star Wars and GI Joe characters together in an epic story dominating Barbies (random) but they aren’t just flailing about throwing their toys around the room and if they are they don’t do it for 82 minutes.

That’s what was so ingenious about the Lego Movie.  They captured the randomness of a kids mind better than any movie I’ve seen.  You had the pirate, Harry Potter and Abe Lincoln all together but there was a story and an inventiveness that worked.  It wasn’t just madness all the time.

I suppose the writers were trying to take Myers Shrek style of comedy that was so successful at that time and apply it to this movie.  The problem with that is at least with Shrek (not a big fan of those films) there was an actual story and more than one performer to bounce the humor off of.  The little asides and adults only jokes are obnoxious in Shrek but I’d watch all 4 of those movies on repeat rather than sit through Cat in the Hat again.

cat in hat3Everything doesn’t need to be a movie and Cat in the Hat should have been stopped at the idea stage.  Some of the sets look bright and colorful but in total it feels like an assault to the senses so even that isn’t pleasant.

Badly done Hollywood!!  Seuss deserves better than this atrocity.

Overall Grade- F