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Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat
2003 - PG - 82 Mins.
Director: Bo Welch
Producer: Brian Grazer
Written By: Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, Dave Mandel, David Mandel, Dr. Seuss
Starring: Mike Myers, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Alec Baldwin, Amy Hill
Review by: Joe Rickey
A Dr. Seuss creation comes to life when a wily feline comes into the lives of one brother and sister and proceeds to wreak havoc on their homestead in this family comedy directed by Bo Welch, making his directorial debut. The Cat in the Hat certainly is a great book for children and one of the most popular books of all time, right from its debut in 1957. All this makes it even more unfortunate that the big screen adaptation is such a wildly uneven disappointment.

First and foremost, the film suffers from a tone that is constantly changing. I assume that since the film is PG, it is supposed to be aimed at kids. Then the film proceeds to include some jokes that would be more commonplace in Myers’ other franchise, Austin Powers. They involve not so subtle sexual innuendo and frankly don’t have a place in a film such as this one. Had they been cut the film could have developed a more consistent tone and style instead of fluctuating from one moment to the next. The differing tone scene from scene might have been okay had the more adult material worked at all, but it is mostly of the lame and clichéd variety; the punchline visible long before the joke actually gets around to it.

The acting is a definite mixed bag. As the young children who the cat pays an unexpected visit, Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin are able to hit the right notes with their respective performances. Dakota Fanning once again proves that she is a rare young talent who is likely going to have a long career in film, as she seems to have what it takes to make the transition from child actor to adult actor. Breslin, while not quite as good as Fanning, also makes his character likable, bordering on becoming grating but never crossing over into that territory.

As the title character, Mike Myers does not succeed to the fullest extent. Under much make-up, he has got the look right and some of the behaviors though it seems at times like he just superimposed his trademark shtick onto the script. This comes across as uncharacteristic of what the character was like in the original book and isn’t likely to please many for that reason alone. It must be said that Myers, unlike Jim Carrey in 2000’s The Grinch, wasn’t able to somewhat restrain himself and really sink into the character.

The film was able to get some other things right though. For one, the production design looks right it jumped right out of the original creation. It is bright, altogether colorful, and exaggerated. Much care was obviously taken with the production design and it pays off. The music is also tuned correctly to the feel of the film and therefore works without ever drawing much attention to itself. The temptation to go over the top must have been strong and thankfully, the film doesn’t succumb to it.

Overall, The Cat in the Hat is a disappointing adaptation of a beloved book because of Myers inability to really become the title character and the strange mix of adult humor and a innately children-friendly story.

Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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