Cat in the Hat

Year: 2004
Studio: Universal
Director: Bo Welch
Producer: Brian Grazer
Writer: Dr Suess/Alec Berg/David Mandel/Jeff Schaffer
Cast: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Dan Castellaneta

Mostly hated by critics, generally accepted by moviegoers to be an earnest try but a low point for Mike Myers and mostly forgettable. As with everything in Hollywood, all the subtlety is lost on the money men and executives who okay these things. Dr Suess was a modern Aesop, and every one of his stories had something to say (The Lorax, an environmental statement before its time, was a classic example). So all we get is an hour and a half of seemingly pointless destruction with a Disney moral thumb-tacked to the end of it.

When Sally (Fanning) and Conrad are left alone at home on a boring, rainy day, a six foot tall talking cat turns up in their house to show them the true meaning of fun, taking them on all sorts of adventures throughout the house and their neatly manicured town (which is just waiting - in its perfection - to be trashed).

The downfalls are plenty. First, Mike Myers won't be able to perform any other character for the rest of his career without reminding us of the characters who made him famous; you can't help seeing Dr Evil, Austin Powers or Fat Bastard in too many scenes despite his eagerness.

The script also tries to infuse the tale with adult-friendly humour in the Pixar vein, and mostly fails, instead plugging holes to stretch a fifteen minute poem into a multimillion dollar feature film (as do the trips beyond Sally and Conrad's house to the outside world).

The special effects are at times cheap and shoddy, and the creatures/children playing Thing 1 and Thing 2 would give me nightmares if I was under 10. In fact, it's the worst piece of literature to adapt to a live action movie - everything about Suess' drawings was otherworldy and uniquely their own style. The Cat doesn't look like he's supposed to and neither does the house (despite some very creative cinematography that tries for a comic book feel like Dick Tracy did all those years ago).

The one part of the movie that comes close to the spirit of the book is the final scenes where the world starts to look like something out of a Dr Suess book, but mostly it's an expensive and misfired attempt to adapt the unadaptable.

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