Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Cat in the Hat

MPAA Rating: PG for mild crude humor and some double-entendres
(probably should have received a PG-13)

Reviewed by: Rosemarie Ute Hoffman
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids
Genre:
Comedy Kids Family
Length:
1 hr. 22 min.
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
 

Starring: Mike Myers, Spencer Breslin, Dakota Fanning, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes | Directed by: Bo Welch | Produced by: Brian Grazer | Distributor: Universal Pictures

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.

Copyright, Universal Pictures

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: Minor

Year of Release—2003


Viewer Comments

Viewer reactions to this film were overwhelmingly negative.

Negative—We went to see this because we wanted to go to a movie on Thanksgiving weekend and this seemed like the best choice. I wish we had stayed home. There were two exceptionally offensive scenes: Where the cat lusts after a picture of the children’s mother, and where the cat finds a hoe in a garden and acts like a pimp saying “You dirty ho(whore)!” Besides the tasteless humor, the overriding feeling I got from this movie was “BORING!” The vast majority of the gags were tasteless, but more than that, they were just not funny and seem inserted into the movie for no particular reason. In the end the special effects in Cat are good enough, but it ends up just being tasteless, not for small children, and very, very boring!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Stone Engelbrite, age 49
Negative—We’ve just seen this movie and feel that, what could have been a very fun, feel-good movie was turned into a sophomoric, crude waste of time. We cannot believe that tripe like this gets written and produced. You leave the theater feeling as if you want to hit someone. Don’t take your kids; it will ruin a very good book.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Jane Jeffries, age 42
Negative—My 13-year old daughter and I just returned from seeing “Dr.Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat”. We were so disappointed with the bathroom humour and sexual inuendo and some down-right rude stuff. Sure the visuals were good, but not any better than The Grinch or “Pig in the City”. By all the talking and crying around us in the theatre, we guessed that most children aged 3 to 6 were overwhelmed with the visuals and the sounds. If your children are 7 years old and up, I’d say they would find the antics hackneyed and boring, e.g., “been there, done that.” The scene between the brother and sister making amends at the end is contrived. The movie is not uplifting or fun or funny for that matter. Judging by the comments we heard as we left the theatre, I’d say: don’t waste your time or your money.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Diane Nation, age 53
Negative—Dr. Seuss is rolling over in his grave. This was probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen on the big screen. It was worse than a “disappointment”. It was horrible. It couldn’t decide if it was Cat in the Hat, Cat in the Hat Comes Back, or The Wizard of Oz. Mike Meyers was obviously mistaken on his classic cats. He thought he was playing a political agenda-ed Cowardly Lion. It had bad potty humor, bad sexual humor, bad political humor, bad acting, a bad script, and bad special effects. It was very Un-Seusslike, not fit for either kids or adults. The theater was packed, and there was little laughter. Just some sporadic embarrassed and/or pity giggles here and there. About 15 minutes into it my 10 year old son turned and said, “This is stupid. Can we go home?” I said, “No, we’re stuck with it. We might as well watch it.” About 20 minutes later he said, “Is this OVER yet?” I felt the same way.

The 13 year old just slumped and sighed through the whole thing. They even stopped the entire movie for a blatant—I mean the absolutely most blatant I’ve ever seen—commercial-plug. While riding the babysitter down a purple-goo waterslide: Kid: “This is just like an amusement park ride.” Cut to Mike Meyers still close-up with Universal Studios tickets in hand: “You mean like Universal Studios??! Cha-Ching! (wink).” For real. What an insult to audience intelligence.

The only consolation was that I got to see Alec Baldwin type-cast. Too bad I didn’t find out some of my money was going to him before we got into the theater. I would have vetoed it on those grounds alone. I should research a movie a bit more before I actually spend money on it. I used to do that. I just took it on assumption that this movie would be equivalent to “The Grinch” (which we liked very much). My bad—The Cat in the Hat IS BAD! VERY VERY BAD! Thought I’d share my experience so I may save another from the same dismal fate. Really—don’t waste your time or money. This one wouldn’t be worth it in the $2.00 video bin.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Pam, age 42
Neutral—Once again, Hollywood can’t resist adding unnecessary content to the movie. In one part of the movie where the cat cuts off his tail with a butcher knife he says, “Son of a ___,” and then they bleep it out. Another part of the movie the fish says OH MY COD! There is a scene where the cat is a dancer with predent breasts that he grabs as well. I really just wish they would make a good movie and leave out the trash. 5 or 6 places keep it from being a straight-up movie.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—BiG Orange, age 31
Negative—Never have I felt so outraged by a film. Sexual innuendo, vulgarity, implied blasphemy and swearwords. All associated with a children’s classic book endorsed by schools. Please watch this movie in adult-only company and decide for yourself before taking the children. Three out of four that I took, left in tears having watched their childhood illusions shattered.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Sarah, age 37
Negative—I agree with the critics comments… Though the special effects, etc. were very good. This movie is totally inappropriate for children and a huge disappointment. It would have been a much better film without all the rude, crude and nasty “adult” humor that film-makers seem to think they need to add to make it acceptable for adults to qualify spending their time taking their children to see a movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Deb, age 44
Negative—I have two daughters ages 9 and 13 who both had nothing good to say about this movie after we struggled to sit through it the weekend it opened. The entire movie had an overwhelmingly “creepy” feeling to it. Beyond the first 5 minute setup that stuck pretty close to the original storyline, I couldn’t recognize much of Dr. Seuss’ endeering book. Mike Myers as the Cat in the Hat character did nothing but push every limit of a PG rating. And Alec Baldwin as the porno watching neighbor made me want to throw something large at the screen. I am an animal lover and a Dr. Seuss fanatic (I teach preschool), but this cat should be put out of its misery!!!
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—PJ, age 38
Negative—I am so disappointed by the smut in these kids movies. WHY?? The things that I noticed was this: He says “Son of a _____” then he yells where the expletive would be. He sees a hoe (a garden tool) and says you dirty hoe. And then kisses it like a girlfriend. And says, “Oh, I’m sorry.” He has some kind of a contraption that spells out S(something)H(something)I(something)T (something) That was all I could remember. But I saw some young teenagers maybe preteens come out with the parents saying oh I knew what that spelled. And they were laughing. It’s so sad. Why can’t they make a kids good decent movie. A kids good decent movie?
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/1]
—Lora, age 35
Negative—I was so thrilled to hear they were making the movie the “Cat In The Hat.” I must have read this classic children’s story at least 20 million times over the years to my three children, that we could recite it together verse by verse. It was such a disappointment to see that they used adult comedy to portray this wonderful children’s story. Please advise all parents that is is rude, disrespectful and done in poor taste. My children even commented that they wish they did’t see the movie. I wonder what Dr. Seuss would have thought of his story put in a movie such as this.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/5]
—Kathy Wooton, age 44
Negative—I took my 4 and 5 year old daughters to see this movie. I wasn’t overly impressed with the literary license that was taken in the story. I feel Dr Seuss’ work should just be left alone. Oddly enough his books don’t seem to lend themselves well to cinematography. Compared to other children’s movies this one was probably similar in quality, however.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/2]
—Bob C,, age 40
Negative—I was looking forward to seeing this movie. …I was really dissapointed because I believe that the script that the movies makers decided to use is was contrary to what what Dr. Seuss actually wrote. I believe that for people who have not known Dr. Suess will consider him a very bad author concerning kids’ books! I do not recommend this movie.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Carmen, age 31
Negative—My 6yr old and I were invited to a fish dinner. The bones were supposedly removed. But they missed one. And my son nearly swallowed it. So, I started “picking” at each piece before I let it go into him. I think we forget that children are like little sponges. They will absorb what they see and hear and, like seeds, it will reap a harvest later in life “junk in/junk out.” So, for you parents who care, “keep on pickin.” Morals are not “old-fashioned.” There’s no expiration date on Goodness. People are expiring every day for a lack of it.
My Ratings:
—Mar’Cia
Positive—I personally found very little wrong with this movie. It was just plain funny. My 7yr old loved it and didn’t catch any inuendos. Only thing he didn’t care for was when the bad neighbour got sucked into the blue goop. But really folks. I thin k today we over-analize movies to death. Lighten up and just get some joy out of movies without picking it to death.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Sally, age 36
Positive—I went to see this film with my husband and 2 boys, ages 14 and 11. A couple parts of the film do deserve at PG-13,the scene went over my 11yr olds head and probably would most children. We thought the movie was funny. Mike Meyers and the rest of the cast were entertaining. The movie doesn’t follow the book to the tee and if you were looking for a movie that follows the book totally you would be disappointed. We give this movie 2 thumbs up.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—KKHeap, age 39
Comments from young people
Negative—I am 16 years old and was expecting to go see a light hearted film that my younger cousins would enjoy and would be fun to watch. While sitting in the movie theater I found myself cringing at a lot of the lines in the movie. It has horrible humor and is nothing like Dr. Seuss. My whole family was so dissapointed. I think it is not worth the money or the time and I’m very upset to have a great Dr. Seuss classic ruined by a vulgar movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Claire, age 16
Negative—Not only is this NOT a kids’ movie, it isn’t an anybody movie. This movie just plain stinks. It has terrible writing, terrible acting, terribly crude humor, and is absolutely painful to watch. This, by far, is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen… almost as bad as Adam Sandler’s “8 Crazy Nights”. And possibly the worst career move that Mike Myers could have ever made. I was hoping it would be kind of a light, good-feeling movie to see with friends, and ended up truly disgusted that this is the type of trash Hollywood is aiming for children audiences.
My Ratings: [Average/1]
—Jaime, age 17
Negative—This movie was made for children. However, I would not take my 10-year-old sister to see it. Apart from the creativity of scenery, this movie was just a way for Hollywood to take a cute and entertaining childrens’ story and make it vulgar and corrupt. This film is not one that I will support by spending money on it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Jena, age 17
Neutral—This movie was some what offensive. The movie making quality was OK, but nothing I’d rush to the movie theater for. It had very funny parts, but not for immature kids. I would think twice about it before I brought younger kids.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Rebekah, age 11
Negative—This movie was HORRIBLE! It’s supposed to be a child’s movie, not a movie for grown-ups!
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Grace, age 13
Negative—This movie is not at all what I hoped for, If they would have followed the book it would have been a cute movie. But they ruined it. This movie was supposed to be for children, but there were many vulgar comments made meant for adults. While the kids in the movie did learn a lesson in the end, they didn’t listen to there mother and the Cat encouraged to do what she had told them not to promising nothing bad would happen, while in fact if you make bad choices bad things will follow. Also this movie was not very funny at all. I do not recommend this movie for any one!! Don’t waste your money on it!
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Hannah, age 15
Neutral—“The Cat In The Hat” was received with negative reviews because of its cut-off swears and innuendos. When I was younger I watched it and never recognized what any of the badness in the movie meant. Now, I’m older, and I re-watched it, now knowing what the objectionable content all means! The Cat explains in one scene about where baby cats came from with sexual humour, the Cat chops of his tail and almost swears, but he it’s bleeped out, etc. I really thought that this movie needed a PG-13 rating, too! So, overall, I liked this film, but the objectionable content was pretty bad!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Andre, age 15 (Canada)
Movie Critics
…It’s another overwrought clunker…
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…You shouldn’t have to add burps, farts and dog pee to Dr. Seuss…
—Marc Caro, Chicago Tribune
Although some clever and funny scenes in this movie and it is visually a wonder for kids to behold, there is still something “dark” that takes all of the fun out of it. It just doesn’t have the book’s charm or “feel good” quality…
—Holly McClure, Crosswalk
…Scatological jokes, a pin-up girl, double-entendres and the acronym for a vehicle that spells a profanity are a few of the things not found in the original story…
—Kerry Bennett, GradingTheMovies
…pretty thin story for anyone over 10… this movie is about letting Mike Myers riff like a madman. …barely veiled profanities and subtle humor involving sex, porn, urination and vomiting…
—Bob Smithouser, Plugged In
…The big-screen Cat represents everything corrupt, bloated, and wrong with mainstream Hollywood movies…
—Ty Burr, Boston Globe
…a vulgar, uninspired lump of poisoned eye candy that Universal has the temerity to call “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.” It is nothing of the kind…
—A.O. Scott, New York Times
…Yikes! This Cat is on drugs… What I didn’t expect was a movie about two kids who somehow ingest their mother’s supply of hallucinogens one afternoon and have a psychotic episode.
—Laim Lacey, The Globe and Mail
…at 85 minutes, [Mike Myers’] mugging and vanity may have grown-ups in doubt of their grip on their sanity
—Chris Knight, National Post