"The Cat in the Hat" Review
The Fish: This cat should not be here he should not be about! He should not be here when your mother is out!
Beware: Spoilers (and horrible rhyming) may follow. Boy does this movie make you feel hollow.
There was once an author known as Dr. Seuss. He wrote many children’s books where imaginations ran loose. His most iconic read was the Cat in the Hat. It was fun, imaginative, and not a single part fell flat. It had a good moral and a unique way of showing it; as long as you don’t take it too far, it’s all right to break the rules a bit. In 2003, a film adaptation of the beloved book came out. And it caused Seuss fans to scream and shout. It failed to understand the heart of the book and left audiences and critics alike feeling somewhat shook. Where, where did this movie go wrong? Well let’s dive right in. Let’s move along.
Our two main children, Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad Walden (Spencer Breslin), are left at home with a comatose babysitter (Amy Hill) and nothing to enjoy (and yes I know in the movie she merely fell asleep, but she never wakes up till the end and honestly it kind of gives me the creeps). The Cat in the Hat (Mike Myers) visits them and turns their lives upside down. He tries to teach them to have fun and in the process causes trouble all around.
On paper it sounds like the movie sticks close enough to the book. You’d be wrong. The movie simply uses this to get you hooked. The movie is riddled with pop culture references, needless adult jokes, forced morals, and other subplots. This along with other things causes the movie to suffer a lot.
In the book the children were normal, well-behaved kids. They let the cat in and got invested in his hijinks because they were bored and simply wanted to have fun. This goes to show that the potential for rule breaking can be inside just about anyone. In this movie Conrad is a rule-breaker and Sally is a control freak. Not only is this unnecessary, but it makes the message confusing and takes away from what made it balanced and unique.
Dakota Fanning as Sally and Spencer Breslin as Conrad both give performances which to be frank are bad. Most of their dialogue delivery makes them sound bored. In regards to their characters, refer to what I said in the paragraph before.
Alec Baldwin plays the kids’ evil neighbor named Lawrence Quinn. But honestly, this character and his motivation just feel shoehorned in. He wants to marry the mother and send Conrad off to military school. But by the end of the movie, he winds up making himself into a complete fool. We’ve seen this character before in lord knows how many flicks. And he doesn’t add anything to the story; he’s just in it to cause a rift between the mother and son and create a forced conflict.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 may look the same as they do in the book. However this movie shows that the way characters are drawn in animation may translate rather scary to a real life look.
Mike Myers as the Cat is horribly miscast. Aside from his creepy look, laugh, and expressions nothing about this character has proven to ever last. Nothing about his personality feels like a delight. Heck, half the time he doesn’t even get the kids’ names right. He doesn’t feel like the whimsical character in the book that we all know. Halfway through the movie he directly advertises Universal Studios. He doesn’t have much of any character, motivation, or any idea how to execute it. He just spends his time making unneeded adult jokes and dated pop culture references in every bit.
The Cat in the Hat is to be frank a horrible Dr. Seuss adaptation. The TV special that came out back in 1971 is a way better illustration. I’m glad that a film adaptation of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was saved. Because this movie alone causes Dr. Seuss to continuously spin in his grave.