The Cat in the Hat
Directed by Bo Welch
Starring Mike Myers, Spencer Breslin, Dakota Fanning, Kelly Preston, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes
Released on November 21, 2003
Running time: 1h 22m
Genre: Kids & Family, Comedy (you wish)
Rated PG? Really? PG? How? The amount of adult content in The Cat in the Hat is so high for a kids’ film that I am truly amazed that it wasn’t PG-13.
CAT: When a mommy cat and a daddy cat love each other very much…
CAT: Hummina, hummina, hummina … WHO is THIS? (CAT pulls back off of picture frame as if unfolding a Playboy centerfold. CAT squees, aroused. CAT’s hat extends like a penis.)
CONRAD: That’s my mom.
CAT’s hat goes back to normal.
CAT: Awkward. (CAT puts the picture down.)
CAT: There was this cat I knew back home where I was bred / He never listened to a single thing his mother said / He never used his litter box and made a mess in the halls / That’s why they sent him to a vet who cut off both his b-oh…buh…boh…BOY!
CAT imitates a plumber or a car mechanic, letting his pants hang down far enough to show off his buttcrack.
CAT: Yes, without those tortured animals and druggie clowns that have hepatitis!
CAT holds up the end of his tail and the tip, which he has accidentally severed with a butcher knife.
CAT: SON of a BI-
(CUT to still of a house cat wearing a red-and-white-striped hat hanging from a line. The words “HANG IN THERE, BABY!” are superimposed over the still.)
LAURENCE sits down on his easy chair, watching what I assume is as close as The Cat in the Hat dares get to actual porn.
CAT turns to look at the garden hoe he is holding.
CAT: Dirty hoe!
BIG KID swings his Louisville Slugger bat and hits CAT in the groin. CAT groans.
CUT to SLOW-MO of CAT wearing a white dress and a red bonnet. CAT is on a swing. There is a unicorn in the midground behind CAT. It is snowing.
CUT back to CAT groaning. KIDS are dumbfounded.
CAT: Yeah, it’s better than the original name we had for it: Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transport.
CONRAD: Oh, you mean –
CAT: (Cuts CONRAD off abruptly.) OOH! Quick to the S.L.O.W.! (Awkward guffaw.)
During the party in the kiosk, CAT runs into a scantily clad PARIS HILTON, who shakes her breasts at him. CAT is visibly aroused. CONRAD and SALLY drag him away.
Get my drift?
You know what? Let me rephrase that. The Cat in the Hat is too vulgar for anyone under thirteen, and is too idiotic and insulting for anyone over thirteen.
It is important to note that The Cat in the Hat was directed by Bo Welch, the production designer on a lot of Tim Burton movies and Barry Sonnenfeld productions. This shows itself throughout this movie, as Welch clearly knows how to design wacky, over-the-top sets, but he doesn’t know how to direct his actors.
We all know the story, but, of course, in live-action Dr. Seuss movies, we have to deal with weak, forced suburban commentary.
In the city of Anville (PUNPUNPUNPUNPUN), Joan Walden (Kelly Preston) a worker at Humberfloob Real Estate, is hosting that night’s annual company meet-and-greet party. She is warned by her boss (Sean Hayes) that
HUMBERFLOOB: If your house is as messy as last time, … YER FIRRRRRRRRRRRRE-DIH!
Oooooookay. Humberfloob is apparently a germophobe, as he FIRRRRRRRRE-ZUH a new employee simply because he thinks that the employee has dirty hands. Immediately after FIRRRRRRRRRRE-EEN-GUH the new employee, he lifts his jacket, exposing a hand sanitizer bottle that he carries around like John Wayne would carry a revolver. Humberfloob then proceeds to squirt a copious amount of hand sanitizer onto his hands. Even fundamentalist germaphobes know that you only need one or two squirts at the very most. Hell, I know that.
Humberfloob’s Real Estate’s slogan is “How can we make your dreams come true?” I got nothing.
Joan tries to be a good mom, but she has to deal with her two children. They are Conrad (Spencer Breslin), a nonconformist troublemaker, and Sally (Dakota Fanning), a control freak who is such a control freak that she is that close to being the female child version of Christian Grey, minus the BDSM. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you don’t need to expose yourselves to where I got that bit from. Conrad acts too young for his age – I think he is 12 or 13, but in one scene, he goes into the kitchen, dumps out a bunch of kitchen utensils, and throws them all over the kitchen. He then proceeds to make a set of makeshift body armor out of household objects, and luge down the staircase on a cookie sheet. Wow. On the other hand, Sally, who is too smart for her own good, acts like…well, a female Christian Grey. My earlier statement still stands.
SALLY: Today’s to-do list, number one: make to-do list.
Wow. Oh, by the way, Sally also carries a PalmPilot. Yes, indeedy, this is 2003.
We are then introduced to Laurence Quinn (Alec Baldwin), the eeeeeeeevil neighbor who is not only trying to marry Joan, but send Conrad off to military school. Good! Conrad could use someone to knock some sense into him! I mean, how bad can it get? What, will he be treated like Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket? Conrad could use someone like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to kick his butt…unless Spencer Breslin grows up to be Vincent D’Onofrio. However, as much as I support Conrad being sent to military school, Laurence, or Larry, as he is addressed by Conrad, is literally a tiny, wrinkly, dry, scaly, disease-ridden, impotent little penis. And, even though he wants to send Conrad to military school, he cannot execute a backwards march or a proper salute. OH, COME ON! I learned to do those when I was in NJROTC in high school! You’re an adult, Laurence! Oh, and even though he hates Conrad with a passion, he acts like he genuinely loves him whenever Joan is around. Way to lie to your future fiancée, Laurence.
I like Alec Baldwin as an actor, though he’s less than satisfactory as a person. I’ve seen him do some surprisingly decent stuff. Hell, he even tried to put forth good performances as Mr. Conductor in Thomas and the Magic Railroad and Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle in Pearl Harbor, but was ultimately put down by poor direction, with the two aforementioned films being directed by Britt Alcroft and Michael Bay respectively. Baldwin’s performance in The Cat in the Hat, under the direction of Bo Welch, is…subpar, to say the least.
After making a huge mess and ruining his mom’s groceries, Conrad is grounded. Strangely, Conrad actually tries to pin it all on Sally. GROW UP, KID! He and Sally are to be babysitted by Mrs. Kwan (Amy Hill) while Joan is at work.
CONRAD: I wish I had a different mom.
Well, Conrad, Joan did push you out of her vagina, so, yes, she is your mother, and will always be your mother. Deal with it, kid.
JOAN: Well, sometimes I wish the same thing.
Why, you ungrateful whore!
Mrs. Kwan invites Conrad and Sally to watch TV with her, but she watches the
CONRAD and SALLY: Taiwanese Parliament.
MRS. KWAN: Go get ‘em, Gwai Jung! No more big government!
Mrs. Kwan embodies the forced juxtaposition of the Asian and Elderly stereotypes. She turns out to be the most racist stereotype since Master Little from The King and I, and will continue to be so until Mudflap and Skids from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
After Mrs. Kwan falls asleep, Conrad and Sally sit in their chairs, staring out the window until they are visited by … GUESS WHO?! … a terrifying abomination of hell! Okay, it’s just the famous Cat in the Hat (Mike Myers), but he is SCARY! There is one thing I must mention – the costume. Aside from the fact that it is scary as all hell, it is…comparable to Jim Carrey from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Jim Carrey’s face is emotive enough to go through all of the green and furry makeup. Carrey also has enough bodily and vocal energy to become one with his costume. On the other hand…we have Mike Myers. Not only does Myers have only two facial expressions (that’s two more than Megan Fox): pedophile grin and HAPPY-HAPPY-HAPPY smile (sorry, Phil Robertson), but he looks like he is restrained by his costume.
But now to the actual character of the Cat. He can’t rhyme. Yes, you read that right. The most famous Dr. Seuss character cannot rhyme. Wow. He is a cat, but he is somehow lactose intolerant. He constantly makes pop culture references. He makes jokes ranging from ones that a three-year-old might giggle at to disgusting ones about bodily functions to some surprisingly dirty jokes that only adults will understand. I should know, because I am one. His recurring laugh fails to make him a three-dimensional character. He is apparently from another dimension. He breaks the fourth wall without warning (In the worst case, he blatantly comes out and advertises Universal Studios). He looks nothing like a cat. He is scary. He is weird. He is constantly out of breath. He constantly talks down to Conrad and Sally. Half the time, he doesn’t even look them in the face. He spouts lazy rhymes once in a while. And he is an absolute douche!
The Cat makes Conrad and Sally sign a big as hell contract, encourages them to jump on the couch (because that’s…fun?), and even turns baking cupcakes into a reality TV show not unlike the Food Network. This makes me long for the glory days of Paula Deen. The Cat introduces the machine known as the Kupkake-inator, which can turn anything in the kitchen into cupcakes. Of course, as you’d expect, the machine goes haywire and explodes, splattering purple goop all over the walls. The Cat attempts to wipe it up with Joan’s new dress, much to the fury of Conrad and Sally.
The Cat then introduces us to Thing 1 and Thing 2. They are also terrifying. Okay, Dr. Seuss could get away with not drawing an upper lip on the Things. However, this looks horrifying when this is directly translated to real life. I can’t possibly describe how horrifying these two hellspawns are. *shudder*
During this time, we are, quite literally out of nowhere, introduced to the Fish (another scary demon of hell). Though he is the only character in this movie that approaches likeable, he is as forgettable as that itch you just scratched and forgot about moments later.
In the book, the story is quite straightforward. The Cat introduces us to the Things, the trio messes up the house, the Cat and the kids learn their lesson, they all clean up the house, and the Cat and the Things leave just before the kids’ mother arrives.
How does this movie screw that up?
Well, it introduces a very strange subplot involving this red crate. Apparently it is a trans-dimensional portal that the Cat and the Things come from. Wait, so the Cat comes from another dimension? The crate is always supposed to be kept locked, and if left open, will unleash “the mother of all messes”. So, basically, this red crate is the Deus ex Machina that will end the world. Wow.
Conrad picks the lock, the lock somehow gets attached to the dog’s collar, and the Things toss the dog out the window. Conrad, Sally, and the Cat have to get the dog back while simultaneously avoiding Laurence. Throughout this scene, I couldn’t help but notice with amazement that apparently the populace of Anville is completely fine with a six-foot-tall cat walking around on its hind legs in full view of the public.
The trio makes it back to the house to discover that the crate has morphed the house into…a Universal Studios theme park ride. Don’t believe me? The Cat literally comes out and says it, breaking the fourth wall again.
CONRAD: This is amazing! This is just like a ride at an amusement park!
CAT: You mean like at (Everything stops except for CAT.) Universal Studios! (Laughs.) Cha-ching! (Winks.)
Wow. Just…just wow. Talk about being a whore of a corporation.
The trio makes it to the crate and shuts it, but the house is destroyed. Conrad and Sally FINALLY kick the Cat out of the house and prepare to meet their fate at the hands of Joan.
Of course, the Cat comes back and fixes everything within a minute or two. He even breaks the fourth wall again by flat out saying that they put in an upbeat pop song for the soundtrack. He quickly leaves just before Joan arrives at the perfectly clean house. Joan is pleased, Joan dumps Laurence, the party goes swimmingly, and they all live happily ever after.
OR DO THEY?!
Well, now that Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’s wife, threatened lawsuit if any more live-action movies of her husband’s work were made, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back will not be made.
So, yes. They live happily ever after.
BUT I DON’T!
This movie is truly astounding with how bad it is. It truly has to be seen to be believed. This has not happened to me since The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure and Food Fight.
The story of The Cat in the Hat book was decent enough, but the movie’s story was botched by pointless subplots, injokes, advertisements, forced morals, adult jokes, and sexual innuendos. It is a hokey amalgamation of corporate pandering to focus groups, terrifying imagery, and the promotion of the sick side of humanity.
The adult humor makes it more childish. Modernizing the dialogue makes it a blatant, flagrant product of the times rather than a timeless classic.
Dr. Seuss’s books are not just typical kids’ books. They are classic stories that we are reading to this day. They shaped our childhoods by teaching us valuable life lessons through well-thought-out writing, wacky, clever, and child-friendly humor, stunning, imaginative, and surreal artwork, and endearing morals. They are, surprisingly, much more adult than they are given credit for. And in the years and decades to come, these books will continue to be read to children long after this movie quietly recedes into the darkest corners of human memory.
And the idea of this highly inappropriate train wreck possibly shaping someone’s childhood is sickening. Even The Last Airbender movie had the redeeming factor of at least being appropriate for kids.
Good stories and artwork don’t come from polls, statistics, and whatever minority is popular at the time. Dr. Seuss said what he wanted to say, not what focus groups wanted to hear. He wanted to show us the world through his eyes. He wanted to intimately and honestly show us his own personal paradigm and teach us how to truly contribute to is and make ourselves better people.
I don’t care that Dr. Seuss was a liberal Democrat who supported FDR’s New Deal and Japanese internment camps during World War II. I care that he truly loved children.
I feel warmth inside my heart having given this mini speech about Dr. Seuss.
God rest his soul.
Let us all stand for a moment of silence as I play “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.
Final Verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.