Written by Alec Berg & David Mandel
Running Time: 1:20
as The Cat
The Cat in the Hat was one of those films that I think will be hit or miss with adults, but kids should enjoy. I found the visuals to be stunning, but the story felt empty and as soon as I left the theater, I couldn't really remember anything worthwhile from the movie.
Sally and Conrad live alone with their mother (no idea where their father went). Mom is dating the man next door, Quinn, who appears to be rather nice, but is in fact, a loser, and bent on getting the kids out of the house so he can have Mom all to himself. Mom is supposed to be hosting a big dinner party for her co-workers, and all she wants is for troublemaker Conrad and bossy Sally to keep the house in one piece. But while they're left alone with the sleeping babysitter, from out of nowhere arrives the Cat in the Hat. Through his seemingly random acts of wanton destruction, he helps the two children learn valuable lessons, while at the same time, outing mean old Quinn.
The first thing you have to notice about The Cat in the Hat is the look of the film. It's totally straight out of a fantasy land, with big, bold, bright colors. Everything is large and totally out of proportion with reality. The costumes are a mix of 50's fashion and Edward Scissorhands. It almost felt like a Tim Burton film, except for the lack of heart, which I'll get into later. Green and purple were the dominant colors, and no one in the film had a stitch of red or black on them (save for some lipstick), except the Cat. So when he made his appearance, he completely stood out from all that surrounded him, simply because he was a different color. So from a visual standpoint, I thought the movie was fascinating and I never got tired of looking at the screen.
The acting was pretty good, especially from the supporting characters. The two kids, Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin, are already old hats at film, having appeared in over a dozen films between them. The biggest thing about them is that they know how to act. A lot of child actors get by on how cute they are, but these two already have great comic timing and voice work down. Kelly Preston was cool as the almost-too-hot-mom who always looked ready to just bust out of her work clothes and go crazy. And at the beginning I wasn't sure if Alec Baldwin fit into his role, but the slimier his character became, the better I thought he was. Which leaves the headliner, Mike Myers. His portrayal of the Cat reminded me a lot of Jim Carrey in The Grinch; it starts off being pretty funny, but after a while, it kind of wears thin. The problem with having a famous actor play these iconic roles is that you see the actor coming through all the time. I can't tell you how many times I was watching the Cat, but hearing Austin Powers or Fat Bastard or one of the countless other characters Myers has played in his life. I was never able to just see the Cat as a character, I always saw it as Mike Myers playing the Cat, and after a while, it became distracting. Some of the scenes were great, like the infomercial sequence, but some of it was just Mike being Mike.
The other problem I had was with the story. At its heart, the movie was supposed to be about teaching two kids how to even out their personalities so that they could make friends and not be a burden to their mother. But with an outrageous movie such as this one, the story gets lost behind the effects, and I thought they could have spent a little more time getting more into the story of the kids. The movie is barely 80 minutes long so adding an extra 5-10 minutes showing more of the destructiveness of Conrad or the bossiness of Sally wouldn't have been too hard, and it would have made the movie feel whole. I spent a while last night trying to come up with a good analogy, but I couldn't, so I'll go with the one I have. The movie was like an Easter egg, all painted up and looking really nice, but when you crack the egg open, it's like someone had taken out the insides. All pretty on the outside, but no heart on the inside, is how I felt about the movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I had mixed feelings about The Cat in the Hat. From a visual point of view, I thought it was pretty amazing, but from a story point of view, it was lacking. A more complete story would have made this movie a lot better, but if you have small children, I think they'll still like the absurd and exaggerated antics of the famous Cat in the Hat.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas/
Horton Hears a Who
The Cat in the Hat
(Original Television Episode)
Dr. Seuss Books
© 2003 Wolfpack Productions