I'll be the first to admit that I was never a big fan of Dr. Seuss's, Cat In The Hat. My speed was more, In A People House and Green Eggs and Ham.
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When Ron Howard and Brian Grazer announced that they were moving forward with a Cat In The Hat movie, I wasn't expecting much. After all, The Grinch, also based upon a Dr. Seuss book, had a lot of flash, but not much substance.
So why did I go? My nine year old loved the trailers and hey - who can say no to a nine year old? Off we went, braving the crowds of snotty-nosed kids, and stressed-out looking parents...
I assume you're familiar with the book so I won't rehash the entire plot...The movie loosely follows the book, taking lots of modern day liberties. The "Mom" (Kelly Preston) is a single parent to Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and Sally (Dakota Fanning). By day, she works at Humberfloob Real Estate for the meticulously, germ-free, Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes). By night, she allegedly dates next door neighbor, Quinn (Alec Baldwin).
Conrad is your typical adolescent male. Always getting himself into trouble. Always harassing his sister. Always trashing the house. Sally is your typical good girl. She makes lists of things to do on her electronic organizer (Make today's to do list, Be spontaneous, Research graduate schools).
One day, their usual babysitter is unable to stay with them and Mom must find a replacement. Before returning to work, she specifically tells Conrad and Sally that they are not to step a foot into the living room, or else. You see, she's throwing a very important party that night for work and the last time she did this, her house was a mess and her neat-freak boss was on the verge of firing her for it.
After mom leaves, the kids sit at the window, watching the rain poor down. A noise interrupts their boredom and when they go to investigate, they find the Cat (Mike Myers). After getting over their initial fears, they soon realize that the Cat is here to make their lives fun. Fun!
Too bad fun includes loosing the dog, trashing the house, and getting the kids in trouble with Quinn.
And that's enough of the story.
I think this is also where I tell you...and by this point in the movie, I was ready to leave...
So what went wrong? The list is long, but distinguished.
First, every good part of the movie was featured in the trailers. That sucked. I can only venture that Universal Studios saw the movie, figured out how bad it was, but then patted themselves on the back for being able to pluck out three minutes of decent material. For shame...
Second, Mike Myers, who I normally adore, ran amuck with his one-person SNL skits. While those work in small, contained areas, or in less traditional stories like Austin Powers, he picked the wrong character to take off the beaten path. I was disappointed in him however, my real anger has been turned to the director, Bo Welch
Who is this guy Bo Welch and why did Brian Grazer allow him to direct a multi-bazillion dollar movie? What, his buddy Ron Howard wasn't available? What about the three million other directors who could have turned this picture into something salvageable?
Here was Bo's biggest issue. He seemed to be overwhelmed by the Dr. Seuss legend. He seemed to be afraid to do different things to endear us to the characters. Instead, he let Mike Myers run amuck.
Third, can we talk about the non-chemistry of Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin? Besides phoning in their performances, they seemed to have no real love for each other. Perfect strangers have more chemistry than these two.
Fourth, does Alec Baldwin THINK that he's funny? I've got news for him. He's not. I look at him and think, get a haircut.
Fifth, who picked the music? And most importantly, why in the hell would you have Mike Myers sing? Ewww...the selections were horrible, not to mention the fact that the tunes stuck out like sore thumbs.
Sixth, whoever was responsible for the special effects needs to enroll themselves in the Pixar school of creativity. There were several, obvious glitches and mistakes (that should have been handled in editing but were not). Overlooking the errors, anyone - especially Grazer or Welch - thinking that the special effects could carry the movie are obviously deluded and should seek strong medication immediately.
Seventh, the ever-wonderful Sean Hayes, who also does the voice of the fish, was relegated to a minor supporting role which sucked because his character had the opportunity to take this movie in a worthy direction. But oh no. Mr. Director must not be able to deal with animated characters...
Now Kelly Preston didn't offend me, so I guess you can say that this was the most redeeming part of the movie.
Cat In The Hat is rated PG for mild crude humor and some double ententres. Personally, I can think of better things to do with your time than taking your kids to see this movie. Get a pedicure. Clean out your attic. Take a nap. All much more worthy of your time...I promise.
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