Put this cat out of its misery

Put this cat out of its misery

WALTZ Staff Writer

November 21, 2003

“Cat in the Hat”

Starring Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota…

“Cat in the Hat”

Starring Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin

Directed by: Bo Welch

It’s a bad sign when the most tasteful moment in a film is a cameo appearance by Paris Hilton raving in a half shirt. But then again, what’s a more appropriate vehicle to showcase Miss Hilton’s talents than a children’s film?

“Cat in the Hat,” a blur of unfunny wisecracking, proves that, not only should this film not have been made, but also that it obviously fell into the wrong hands. Based on Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book, “Cat” starts off with “rule breaker” Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and his sister, “control freak” Sally (Dakota Fanning), getting into trouble with their real estate broker Mom (Kelly Preston). Frazzled over a party she has to throw for her anal-retentive boss Mr. Humberfloob (played briefly by Sean Hayes of “Will and Grace” fame), Mom makes the children promise they will not destroy the house while she steps out. Left with an incompetent babysitter, the children are free to wreak havoc with the Cat in the Hat (Mike Myers), who, throughout the film, tries to teach them the meaning of having fun.

Even though the story sounds familiar at first, it later incorporates more plot than the book offers. Instead of staying true to the original story, the film instead strays into crazy, unnecessary plot twists, which are nothing but a mishmash of tired gross-out humor and flashy special effects. This is obviously because the film is trying too hard to appeal to both children and adults, which becomes its major downfall. At the point when the Cat starts spelling out dirty acronyms – his magic car was once called the S.H.I.T – and making gay jokes, one realizes that there’s just no hope.

Mike Myers, in his role as the mischievous Cat, adds more insult to injury with his seemingly improvised performance. He makes Cat sound like a combination of his Saturday Night Live character Linda Richman and the Cowardly Lion, and even resorts to performing one of his old SNL skits in the film. The supporting cast adds nothing to the film, due to the fact that their characters are so one-dimensional. Alec Baldwin, for example, seems misplaced as the two-faced greaseball out to woo Mom. Fanning and Breslin, in their performances as the two children, are the only saving graces in the film, and even they seem embarrassed to be involved with the project.

Unfortunately, this is the second in the line of film adaptations of Dr. Seuss stories. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” which opened in 2000, was more successful in depicting the charm of a Dr. Seuss tale, mostly due to the writer’s widow overseeing the production. “Cat in the Hat,” however, fails to even come close. It instead falls victim to shameless product placement – every character in the film drives a green Ford Focus, and the Cat even promotes Universal Studios – which cheapens the film and derives it of any real value.

The people behind this film may as well have dug up Seuss’s corpse and slapped it across the face.


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