DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT

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Release Date: November 21, 2003

Starring: Mike Myers, Dakota Fanning,
Spencer Breslin, Alec Baldwin,
Kelly Preston, Amy Hill, and
Sean Hayes

Genre: Fantasy/Comedy

Audience: Older children to
adults REVIEWER: Lisa A.
Rice In THE CAT IN THE HAT,
Conrad and Sally Walden
(Spencer Breslin and Dakota
Fanning) are home alone with
their pet fish. It is raining
outside, and there is nothing
to do. . . until The Cat in
the Hat (Mike Myers) walks in
the front door, or, rather,
descends mysteriously from the
ceiling. He discerns that
Sally is controlling – and
no fun at all, and Conrad is a
rule-breaker, which could
really get him in trouble in
life. The cat’s job, though
he doesn’t tell the
children, is to lead them into
the world of imagination, and
through the harrowing
obstacles thrown in by his
magical hat, Thing One, Thing
Two, and their big red box –
actually a door to the world
of make-believe, the children
will learn teamwork, fairness,
and great life lessons. At
first it's all frenzy and
games, until things get out of
hand, and The Cat must go, go,
go, before their mom gets
back! THE CAT IN THE HAT has
incredible art direction,
reminiscent of such movies as
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
and STUART LITTLE – with
over-the-top, campy, bright
colors, fun, wild,
color-coordinated clothing and
sets, and even the gnarly
trees and gadgets seen in the
old Seuss books. (Seuss, by
the way, is pronounced
“Soice,” like
“rejoice,” and his real
name is Theodor Geisel. . .
You might need to know these
things if you’re ever a game
show contestant. If you win
big money, please send a large
portion of your winnings to
MOVIEGUIDE®.) The movie feels
amazingly like the book,
though the book was very
short, and the movie is a
feature-length 82 minutes
long. The screenplay adds a
grouchy next-door-neighbor
man, played by an overweight
Alec Baldwin, as well as a
lame babysitter, Mrs. Quan,
who gets hung in the closet
and then later used as a
toboggan (it’s complicated).
There are car chases downtown
(didn’t even know the Cat
had a car!), wild rides
through imagination-land, or
the Cat’s real world, and a
look into the mom’s (Kelly
Preston’s) whole world of
selling real estate under a
persnickety, intimidating neat
freak boss. Overall the movie
is more fast-paced than fun.
The story structure is
terrible, however, as the cat
never undergoes a
transformation – a major
faux paux in the world of
screenwriting rules. In fact,
the director too often shoots
the Cat as if he’s a second
rate, borscht belt, stand-up
comic rather than a character
in a story. This undermines
the dramatic flow of the
relationships and conflicts in
the story, especially since
many of the Cat’s jokes are
not at all funny and a few are
unnecessarily lewd. The
children transform, however,
which is satisfying, though a
couple important elements
(like Sally’s sadness at
being left out of a birthday
party) are never resolved. The
other major problem in THE CAT
IN THE HAT is a notable
handful of questionable humor
elements. At one point, the
Cat stumbles upon a muddy
garden tool, which he
addresses as “a dirty ho,”
then quickly adds, “I’m
sorry, baby; you know I love
you!” Other issues include
some gay-looking prissing
around that the Cat does,
including decorating comments
about the curtains. There are
also some beginnings of
obscenities started, only to
be finished by other, more
acceptable words. Things like,
“Oh, no, I’ll fall on my
ahhhhhh – we’re
falling!” There are also
numerous moments of body
humor, such as when the cat is
fishing around in the living
room, suddenly dressed like a
repairman, donning a plastic
rear end with an obvious
repairman’s crack showing.
The Alec Baldwin character is
gross. He pulls off a stomach
girdle at one point to reveal
a nasty, rotund, bulging,
hairy stomach, and he picks
his nose and naval without
hesitation. The babysitter is
rather gross, too, with her
obesity, heavy makeup, and her
encouragement of the children
to watch TV without telling
their mother. As for worldview
elements, there’s a scene
where the Cat pretends to be
an animal rights activist, and
he tells the Alec Baldwin
character that dogs should be
called Canine Americans,
making fun of political
correctness. The final issue,
and perhaps it’s a personal
one, is the fact that during
most of the movie, the house
is a disastrous mess. I
remember feeling nervous about
the mess upon mess upon mess
in the children’s book, and
the director skillfully but
irritatingly brings that same
feeling into the movie. Get it
cleaned up, and get that Cat
out of there! In general,
despite its potty humor and
adult humor in some areas
(which will go over
children’s heads for the
most part but offend a
significant number of
parents), younger children may
enjoy THE CAT IN THE HAT more
than some of its competition,
including the frantic LOONEY
TOONS, the pagan BROTHER BEAR,
and the occult-looking HAUNTED
MANSION. Concerned parents and
Seuss purists may want to find
some better ways for their
children to spend their
leisure time, however. Please
address your comments
to: Stacey Snider,
Chairman Universal
Pictures Ron Meyer,
President/COO Universal
Studios 100 Universal City
Plaza Universal City, CA
91608-1085 Phone: (818)
777-1000 Web Page:
www.universalstudios.com

Rating: PG

Runtime: 82 minutes

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Director: Bo Welch

Executive Producer:

Producer: Brian Grazer EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Eric McLeod, Gregg
Taylor, Karen Kehela Sherwood,
and Maureen Peyrot

Writer: Alec Berg, David Mandel, and
Jeff Schaffer BASED ON THE
CHILDREN’S BOOK BY: Dr.
Seuss

Address Comments To:

Content:

(Pa, B, Ab, Ho, PC, L, S, N, V, A, M) Mixed pagan worldview with some moral elements such as a rebuke of lawlessness and a rebuke of lying by one character, yet another character’s lying is not rebuked, and children learn the importance of playing responsibly and cleaning up after themselves, with some slight homosexual allusions, such as protagonist prissing around like a gay decorator, and movie makes fun of politically correct protestor who tells people that dogs are “Canine Americans”; mild language issues with the beginnings of about five obscenities; light, comedic violence such as cat hitting child with tail, cat cutting off his tail, bad guy slimed with purple ooze, babysitter used as a skateboard down some stairs, large human-size cat hit in groin with bat, etc.; a few sexual innuendoes, including cat lusts after pretty women and children’s mother; upper male nudity, reference to rear-end exposure of blue collar handymen, and female cleavage; alcohol use; no smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality such as lying and meanness by adults, some rebuked and some not, and babysitter falls asleep and covers it up with lies.

GENRE: Fantasy/Comedy

Pa

B

Ab

Ho

PC

L

S

N

V

A

M

Summary:

DR. SEUSS’ THE CAT IN THE HAT, starring Mike Meyers, is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s book about two bored children and an exuberant, very messy cat. With award-worthy art direction and some frenetic scenes, the movie is questionable for some audiences due to its poor storyline, dull jokes, body humor, and double entendres.

Review:

In THE CAT IN THE HAT, Conrad and Sally Walden (Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning) are home alone with their pet fish. It is raining outside, and there is nothing to do. . . until The Cat in the Hat (Mike Myers) walks in the front door, or, rather, descends mysteriously from the ceiling. He discerns that Sally is controlling – and no fun at all, and Conrad is a rule-breaker, which could really get him in trouble in life. The cat’s job, though he doesn’t tell the children, is to lead them into the world of imagination, and through the harrowing obstacles thrown in by his magical hat, Thing One, Thing Two, and their big red box – actually a door to the world of make-believe, the children will learn teamwork, fairness, and great life lessons. At first it's all frenzy and games, until things get out of hand, and The Cat must go, go, go, before their mom gets back!

THE CAT IN THE HAT has incredible art direction, reminiscent of such movies as HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS and STUART LITTLE – with over-the-top, campy, bright colors, fun, wild, color-coordinated clothing and sets, and even the gnarly trees and gadgets seen in the old Seuss books. (Seuss, by the way, is pronounced “Soice,” like “rejoice,” and his real name is Theodor Geisel. . . You might need to know these things if you’re ever a game show contestant. If you win big money, please send a large portion of your winnings to MOVIEGUIDE®.)

The movie feels amazingly like the book, though the book was very short, and the movie is a feature-length 82 minutes long. The screenplay adds a grouchy next-door-neighbor man, played by an overweight Alec Baldwin, as well as a lame babysitter, Mrs. Quan, who gets hung in the closet and then later used as a toboggan (it’s complicated). There are car chases downtown (didn’t even know the Cat had a car!), wild rides through imagination-land, or the Cat’s real world, and a look into the mom’s (Kelly Preston’s) whole world of selling real estate under a persnickety, intimidating neat freak boss.

Overall the movie is more fast-paced than fun. The story structure is terrible, however, as the cat never undergoes a transformation – a major faux paux in the world of screenwriting rules. In fact, the director too often shoots the Cat as if he’s a second rate, borscht belt, stand-up comic rather than a character in a story. This undermines the dramatic flow of the relationships and conflicts in the story, especially since many of the Cat’s jokes are not at all funny and a few are unnecessarily lewd. The children transform, however, which is satisfying, though a couple important elements (like Sally’s sadness at being left out of a birthday party) are never resolved.

The other major problem in THE CAT IN THE HAT is a notable handful of questionable humor elements. At one point, the Cat stumbles upon a muddy garden tool, which he addresses as “a dirty ho,” then quickly adds, “I’m sorry, baby; you know I love you!” Other issues include some gay-looking prissing around that the Cat does, including decorating comments about the curtains. There are also some beginnings of obscenities started, only to be finished by other, more acceptable words. Things like, “Oh, no, I’ll fall on my ahhhhhh – we’re falling!”

There are also numerous moments of body humor, such as when the cat is fishing around in the living room, suddenly dressed like a repairman, donning a plastic rear end with an obvious repairman’s crack showing. The Alec Baldwin character is gross. He pulls off a stomach girdle at one point to reveal a nasty, rotund, bulging, hairy stomach, and he picks his nose and naval without hesitation. The babysitter is rather gross, too, with her obesity, heavy makeup, and her encouragement of the children to watch TV without telling their mother. As for worldview elements, there’s a scene where the Cat pretends to be an animal rights activist, and he tells the Alec Baldwin character that dogs should be called Canine Americans, making fun of political correctness.

The final issue, and perhaps it’s a personal one, is the fact that during most of the movie, the house is a disastrous mess. I remember feeling nervous about the mess upon mess upon mess in the children’s book, and the director skillfully but irritatingly brings that same feeling into the movie. Get it cleaned up, and get that Cat out of there!

In general, despite its potty humor and adult humor in some areas (which will go over children’s heads for the most part but offend a significant number of parents), younger children may enjoy THE CAT IN THE HAT more than some of its competition, including the frantic LOONEY TOONS, the pagan BROTHER BEAR, and the occult-looking HAUNTED MANSION. Concerned parents and Seuss purists may want to find some better ways for their children to spend their leisure time, however.

Please address your comments to:

Stacey Snider, Chairman

Universal Pictures

Ron Meyer, President/COO

Universal Studios

100 Universal City Plaza

Universal City, CA 91608-1085

Phone: (818) 777-1000

Web Page: www.universalstudios.com

SUMMARY: DR. SEUSS’ THE CAT IN THE HAT, starring Mike Meyers, is an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s book about two bored children and an exuberant, very messy cat. With award-worthy art direction and some frenetic scenes, the movie is questionable for some audiences due to its poor storyline, dull jokes, body humor, and double entendres.

In Brief: