Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat is a 2003 American fantasy comedy film directed by Bo Welch and loosely based on the Dr. Seuss' classic children’s book of the same name. The movie stars Mike Myers in the title role of the Cat in the Hat, Dakota Fanning as Sally and Spencer Breslin as Sally's brother, Conrad (who is unnamed in the book). The Cat in the Hat is the second feature-length Dr. Seuss adaptation after the 2000 Christmas movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Conrad and Sally Walden are two children who live in the city of Anville with their mother, Joan Walden. Joan works for neat-freak Hank Humberfloob, and is hosting an office party at her house. One day, she is called back to the office, leaving the kids with Mrs. Kwan, a tired babysitter, and forbidding them to enter the living room, which is being kept pristine for the upcoming party. Joan is also dating their next-door neighbor, Larry Quinn, much to Conrad's dismay. Larry is constantly on the lookout for any mischief Conrad may be up to, as he wants nothing more than to send him away to military school, as Conrad has earned the reputation of "trouble-maker", while his sister is characterized as "perfect and well-behaved".
Once their mother leaves, Sally and Conrad discover a humanoid, oversized talking cat in a hat in their house. The cat wants them to learn to have fun, but the children's pet fish doesn't want the cat around when Joan is away. The Cat balances some stuff, ruins Joan's best dress, jumps on the living room's couch, and bakes cupcakes that explode. In the process, he even releases two demonic things, Thing 1 and Thing 2, from a crate that he explains is actually a portal from their world to his world. The Cat tells Conrad that he only has one rule: never open the crate, then allows the Things to attack, but they then release their malevolent nature by making a mess out of the house. Despite the Cat's warning, Conrad picks the lock anyway. When the crate's lock attaches itself to the collar of the family dog, Nevins. Cat and the kids must go find him and the lock. They drive a super-powered car in search of Nevins and use Cat's magic hat, but face an obstacle when he loses it at one point. Conrad realises that the Things always do the opposite to what they're told. and that this can be used to their advantage and has them stall Joan so can they can get home before her.
Meanwhile, Larry is revealed to be an unemployed man with false teeth and is in financial ruin, having been showing off the impression that he's a successful businessman in the hopes of marrying to Joan and sponging off of her. Larry sees Nevins running across the street and soon sees all of this and tracks down Joan to tell her, but Things 1 and 2 have stalled her on the road, posing as police officers. Larry is fed up about this, so he goes back to the house, telling Joan to meet him there.
By the time the kids and the Cat return to the house with the lock, "the mother of all messes" emits from the unlocked crate and enters the house. They navigate their way through the oversized house and find the crate sucking up things that disappear forever once gone through, after Sally is nearly sucked up but holding onto Conrad, Sally has to put her trust into Conrad that he will catch her when he lets go of her hand and puts the lock back on the crate. The plan works: The house returns to its normal proportions but then immediately falls apart. The Cat then tells the kids that he planned the whole day, including making not opening the crate his one rule, as he knew Conrad could not resist and also admits he never really lost his magic hat. The kids angrily tell the Cat to leave the house. Conrad prepares to face the consequences when Joan comes home, but Sally admits that she will share the blame. The Cat, having overheard this, happily returns to clean up the house, much to Conrad and Sally's suprise. Afterwards, the Cat says good-bye to Conrad and Sally as they plead him not to go, but he departs as Joan is arriving. Larry arrives when all is restored, thinking he has busted the kids, but when Joan sees the clean house (and a messy Larry), she doesn't believe Larry, and dumps him. When her party is successful, Joan and her kids play in the living room by jumping on the couch and having fun.
The film ends with the Cat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 deciding to take a vacation and walking into the sunset.
Why It Sucks
- Extremely poor grasp of the source material that takes away the charm of the original and twists it into a movie inappropriate for the target of Dr. Seuss' works. There are a lot of innuendos (for a PG-rated movie) and the film features a new character named Larry, a lazy unemployed next-door neighbor who plans to marry Joan for money and to send Conrad to military school, who wasn't even in the original book.
- Awful characters and character development.
- A heartbreaking scene where the Cat gets beaten badly by a bunch of kids who mistake him for a piñata.
- The Cat is supposedly the villian in this version.
- Extremely flawed character designs for the Cat and his minions, Thing 1 and Thing 2, that range from grotesque to plain ugly.
- Wasted talents, including that of Spencer Breslin as Conrad, Dakota Fanning as Sally, Kelly Preston as Conrad and Sally's mom, Joan, and Alec Baldwin as Larry.
- The film can get inappropriate for kids due to the amount adult and toilet jokes it has. Two examples are the Cat nearly swearing in one scene where he accidentally chopped part of his tail off, and the Cat showing his car in which he calls it the "Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transporter" before he changed its name to "Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger a.k.a. the S.L.O.W." to prevent Conrad from saying the acronym of the previous name, which is the S-word.
- Shameless marketing in one scene, where the Cat uses the Universal Studios cards.
- Bad graphical effects.
- The film has a racist Chinese stereotype with a fat, sleeping lady who just so happens to be watching a Taiwanese parliament fight.
- A totally out of place cameo of Paris Hilton dancing in a club, with the Cat getting horny over her. This is another example of the poor grasp of the source material and the inappropriate content for kids found in this movie.
- The Dr. Seuss environment looks well done along with the props.
- The opening credits and logos are entirely animated in Dr. Seuss's distinctive style, and music played in the background is fitting and amazing.
- The soundtrack is decent.
- The film has a surreal atmosphere.
- Mr. Humberfloob's character is actually pretty funny.
- The humor can sometimes be funny.
The film currently holds a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes and received an average grade of D+ from critics in the interpretation of Yahoo's film website. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 19/100 based on 37 reviews, indicating "overwhelming dislike".
Entertainment Weekly gave the film a 'D' rating.
The Nostalgia Critic's immediate quote for the movie was: "This isn't Dr. Seuss! It's not even close! It's evil corporate pandering with freaky imagery that's promoting everything that's wrong with humanity! This was next to Son of the Mask, wasn't it?"
The film opened at #1 at the box office with a domestic gross of $38,329,160. The total domestic gross was $101,149,285. In overseas markets, the film made $32,811,256. Overall, it made $133,960,541 against its $109 million budget and was labeled a box office disappointment.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for nine Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Picture, but lost to Gigli. However, it did manage to win the Award in a new category called Worst Excuse For An Actual Picture (All Concept/No Content).
- Tim Allen was originally going to play the Cat, but he was busy with The Santa Clause 2.
- Mike Myers didn't want to be in The Cat in the Hat, but was legally forced into playing the Cat after backing out of a proposed film adaptation of his Saturday Night Live character Dieter, Dieter's Day Out.
- In The Simpsons Halloween episode Treehouse of Horror XXIV, the last words of the villian, The Fat in the Hat, are: "I'm afraid of nothing, not even hellfires. Just please, don't ever let me be played by Mike Myers." which is an obvious jab at this movie.
- This film is getting a computer animated remake produced by Warner Bros.
- The studio also considered Will Ferrell to play the title character, but was filming Elf at the time the film was being made.
- Shortly after the film's release, a sequel to the film, based on the book's sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was in development. However, Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, was highly disappointed with the film, and said she would not allow any future live-action adaptations of her late husband's work, so the sequel was eventually cancelled.
- In an interview for the AV Club's "Random Reviews" feature, Amy Hill said that Mike Myers was terrible to work with, because he refused to talk to anyone on the production but director Bo Welch and completely isolated himself from the cast and crew during breaks in the filming. Hill noted that the film ended up having long and pointless additional takes of scenes because Myers overruled Welch on whether they were good or not.