I considered writing this entire review in a format similar to Dr. Seuss’ format of writing. You know, I thought it would be a nice way to pay homage to him. Then I realized that I don’t have that kind of talent. I decided to scrap that idea. What does this have to do with Bo Welch’s adaptation of The Cat in the Hat? Well, I think that doing what I did, scrapping an attempt to pay tribute to one of the most famous children storytellers ever, would have been a better idea than going through with creating this film.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to take away the power of the first-time film director, and the film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat was created. What’s more surprising, to me at least, is the fact that it was given a fairly large budget of over 100 million dollars. How did the result end up being as poor as it is?
For that kind of money, I would have at least hoped that the visuals would have been well-done, but this isn’t the case. They actually look terrible. This becomes even more surprising when you look at the history of Bo Welch. While this is his directorial début, he had previously worked as a production designer on some Tim Burton films like Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice. While he does tend to focus too much time on the visuals in this film, they just don’t look all that great.
Maybe that was the point though. Maybe he was trying to be ironic in his visuals, just like he is when he tells The Cat to look at the camera, promote a Universal Studios attraction, and then wink, before the action can progress. I can only hope that is the point, but even if it is, it still doesn’t make it work. Like the example mentioned before, the “irony” that is used in these cases ends up falling flat. They stopped being “ironic” and ended up reminding me how much I could have been enjoying myself doing something else, like playing tennis.
I bring up tennis because a segment near the end of the film that involved tennis balls ended up being the sole highlight of the film for me, and I’m not even sure why I liked that. The hat that is on top of the Cat pops open and when the Cat bends down, tennis balls fall down. I’m not sure why this made me chuckle, but it likely had something to do with the fact that the film was near its conclusion, and I was excited to see the credits roll.
The story follows two children, whose mother is forced to go into work. She hires a babysitter, who falls asleep nearly as soon as she arrives in the house. It begins raining, and the children become bored. The children hear something go bump, and decide to find out what happened. To their surprise, the Cat has appeared, and wants to have fun. This also means that a large amount of mess will be made. “It’s okay though”, the Cat says, “I’ll make sure everything is cleaned up by the film’s conclusion”. I’m paraphrasing of course; the dialogue, pacing and characters are nowhere near as straightforward as that statement was.
Mike Myers plays the Cat in this movie, and I honestly think he could traumatize some of the younger viewers. The Cat is supposed to be a friendly and endearing character, but Myers is scary. Not just because of the way he acts, but also with some of the things he says. There is a running gag within the film that revolves around the Cat not quite getting to finish saying certain “dirty” words. There are also a few instances of innuendo and double entendres that most children won’t get.
I’m not hurt by that fact, like I’ve seen some other people are. If the children won’t get them, what’s the point in getting into a fuss about it? I actually saw this in theatres when it first came out, (I was forced to go. Even back then I didn’t much feel like seeing this), and I’ll admit that I didn’t get them. Did it have any impact on me then? No, it didn’t. I still didn’t much enjoy the film, but it wasn’t due to it being too “mature” or “dirty”. As a matter of fact, watching the film now, looking at the “mature content” that the film offers is the only way to get any enjoyment out of it.
There isn’t a single performance that is any good either. Out of all the cast, with Myers in the lead role, Alec Baldwin and Kelly Preston in supporting roles, or Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin as the children, none of them were any good. Lines seemed forced, smiles faked and emotions non-existent. There wasn’t much acting within the film at all. The actors were there, sure, and they were stating their lines, but they weren’t putting anything into it. Myers was the only one that seemed to be trying, but he turned the lovable creature of a cat into something to be feared.
Making an awful adaptation of a classic children’s book is what happened with the creation of The Cat in the Hat. It is unfunny, poorly designed and has terrible acting. The Cat itself is a frightening creature, and so are the visual effects. I did get a slight bit of amusement with how much innuendo and double entendres are hidden throughout the film, but that’s about it.