The Cat in the Hat (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/03/2004

One out of Five stars
Running time: 82 mins

Sadly, for fans of the great Dr Seuss, The Cat in the Hat film just isn’t much use…

After the success of the live-action version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood set its sights on Dr Seuss’ other most famous character, though this was a big fat flop in the States (it opened to disastrous reviews and did equally cat-astrophically at the box office)…

Likeable child actors Spencer Breslin (who acted Bruce Willis off the screen in The Kid) and Dakota Fanning (from – woah, coincidence alert - I Am Sam) play Conrad and Sally Walden, two kids who are left alone with their sleeping baby-sitter while their single mum Joan (Kelly Preston) goes off to work. Just as boredom is setting in, the Cat in the Hat appears and tries to teach them how to have fun, with extremely messy results.

Myers Is Major Problem

That’s not enough plot for yer average Hollywood Suit, however, so there’s also a lot of other stuff shoe-horned in that involves: the kids trying to make Joan see her sleazy would-be suitor (Alec Baldwin) for what he really is; the house needing to be spotless for a corporate party; and Conrad under threat of being sent to military school if he doesn’t behave.

The biggest problem with The Cat In The Hat is, unfortunately, Myers himself. He’s much more concerned with shoe-horning in his own excruciating cat-chphrases (such as “Oh YEAH!”) and generally mugging for the camera than he is with actually playing the character – he could really have learned something from Carrey’s Grinch. By the end of the film, even the way the Cat walks is irritating.

The other performances are fine – the kids are both excellent (particularly Breslin, who has a face that is perfectly designed for Comedy Sulking), Baldwin is on good sleazy form and Sean Hayes (from Will and Grace) has fun as both Joan’s obsessive-compulsive boss and the fun-sucking goldfish. However, the characterisation of Mrs Kwan (Amy Hill), the large, dozy baby-sitter, is borderline offensive and the jokes at her expense are all horribly misjudged.

Production Gorgeous, Script Terrible

Though the production design of the film is gorgeous, with bright colours and strange shapes (a Dr Seuss film must be a production designer’s dream come true), the movie is ultimately let down by a terrible script and the fact that most of the jokes and visual gags just aren’t funny. There are also several unintentionally amusing continuity errors – watch for the still-dirty house once it is supposed to have been cleaned.

The best part of the entire film is the beautifully designed opening credits sequence, which plays out in the style and colours of the original drawings. Unfortunately, after five minutes in the Cat’s company, you wish that the entire film had been animated and that Myers had been booted off the project completely.

In short, though it looks good and has the occasional burst of manic energy (for example, when Thing One and Thing Two show up), this is a huge disappointment and, frankly, it’s all Myers’ fault. Let’s face it, the man has a lot of making up to do, so Shrek 2 had better be good…

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The Cat in the Hat (PG)
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Content updated: 14/12/2017 20:32

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