Reviewed by: Rosemarie Ute Hoffman
Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, might very well be disappointed in Mike Myers (“Austin Powers”) portraying The Cat in the Hat who does not incessantly chant rhythmic rhymes. Rather, his humor reflects the millennium culture today, and not the intent of the classic children’s book to introduce 220 new-reader vocabulary words.
The Cat is bleeped while announcing the expletive “Son of a ____” and accidentally chops his tail off with a butcher knife while he imitates an infomercial. This is unnecessary for underage impressionable children who will flock to see this mock. The use of acronyms, the slur of clowns with Hepatitis, and numerous immoral statements are spoken throughout. These add-ons taint Dr. Seuss’ pure rendition of a timeless masterpiece. However, the concept of imagination and the use of vibrant colors are certainly the highlights and click in this flick. No doubt, this is the stimulus as the story unfolds of meshing reality with childlike imagination.
Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and Sally (Dakota Fanning) are two siblings on opposing teams. Conrad is spontaneous, inventive, and a rule breaker while Sally is predictable, controlling, and quite obnoxious. Conrad obviously passed the grade with excellence on how to be a kid while Sally decided to skip out.
It is a rainy afternoon and boredom has set in with the lack of attention from a sleeping baby-sitter. This is when The Cat in the Hat comes to play, but not without a signed contract. The contract guarantees that they can have all the fun they want without anything bad ever happening. After the formality of initialing the contract, and the failing diagnosis from the Phun-o-meter, their first lesson learned is that you cannot have fun without “u” in the middle.
The Cat instantly entices both children to play in an off-limits room where their mother, Joan (Kelly Preston), who is employed by Humberfloob Real Estate is hosting a Meet and Greet with prospective clients that same evening. Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes) is a typical germaphobic with tyrant tendencies.
After an explosion of purple goop cupcakes in the oven, Cat introduces Thing 1 and Thing 2 from the big red crate—a transporter. These little hyperactive munchkins who speak a foreign tongue are quickly found out. They will only do the opposite of what is asked of them. It gets worse. Conrad breaks the Cat’s one rule. He opens the locked crate. The picked lock, which is an animated crab, has attached itself to the collar on their toy dog who has run away. The imaginary world is seeping out of the unlocked crate and the mission to find the dog and the lock is imperative. Therefore, they set out on foot with fun in store along the way.
Mike Myers’ signature characteristics are heard from beginning to end, especially when he is disguised as a piata hanging on a tree. After he is swatted in the crotch, the movie switches to a slightly different scene where he is on tree swing and the music “Easy Like Sunday Morning” by Lionel Richie plays before a scream identifies the pain he felt. However, if you are familiar with Mike’s filmography, you should not be surprised by his remark to Sally, “You’re a lone wolf. Live alone, die alone.”
The adventures are progressing along when Cat uncovers the S.L.O.W. car—replacing last years’ model the Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transporter. Up to this point the subplots meet at an intersection where the seedy neighbor and boyfriend (Alec Baldwin), who misrepresents himself as a caring individual, the runaway dog, the mother coming home to get the party started, and the house transitioning from reality to an imaginary state quickly. It all leads up to a most delightful ending, the house is cleaned and repaired, and Baldwin’s scheme to send Conrad off to military school and marry the mother proved unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the children did learn some valuable lessons. They came to the realization that they are family and in it together—even in the mother of all messes.
Rules are a vital part of a child’s life and so is fun. Both are necessary in early child development to bring about balanced characteristics into adulthood. Rules teach children boundaries and guide them morally, so that when they are old they will not depart from them. Fun on the other hand is quite the opposite. It utilizes imagination and creativity, but should be practiced with self-control.
The opening narration is quite authentic but the rest is merely hallucinogenic. Stay at home with the book and your kid. See to it that your parental teaching is not undermined—reversing all the rules you forbid!
Violence: Minor | Profanity: Mild | Sex/Nudity: MinorYear of Release—2003
Viewer reactions to this film were overwhelmingly negative.