A few holiday seasons ago, I avoided the ‘Grinch’ movie with Jim Carrey like the plague. But after my brother and several friends kept saying that it wasn’t so bad, I finally rented it and agreed that they were right. The live action treatment to one of my favorite animated holiday specials held on to enough of the Seuss charm and tone that it wasn’t nearly as offensive to Dr. Seuss fans as ‘The Cat in the Hat’ has turned out to be.
All of the apprehensions I had about the ‘Grinch’ are grossly actualized in the ‘Cat in the Hat’. Like how do you extend a short children’s story into ninety minutes of feature length film time? Why fill it with predictable plot points that have no place being part of the story and drag out the screen time by at least twenty minutes or more. We can start with Alec Baldwin’s character Quinn as the creepy neighbor next door who has this whole ‘send the bad kid off to military school’ plot that is irritating and has no bearing on anything going on with ‘the Cat in the Hat’ except to provide a villain of sorts to eventually be covered in purple protoplasmic goo. Then there’s the old reliable ‘Lock and Key’ plot whereas for whatever reason, characters need to spend almost a half hour to hunt down some lock or key to save the world. A tired goal even by videogame standards, its sad to see it sink into the feature film of one of Dr. Seuss best creations. The only new character that makes a good impression would be Sean Hayes who doubles as the clean-freak head of the Real Estate agency where the Mom works and as the voice of the ever-abused Fish in Bowl.
Then there’s Mike Myers as the Cat. Know this - I like Mike Myers, I love Dr. Seuss and ‘the Cat in the Hat’ is one of my all time favorite felines, what could go wrong? Well as much as I was ready to be so into this movie, I was so let down by the outcome. I never knew that the Cowardly Lion from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ would one day grow up to become ‘the Cat in the Hat’, but thanks to Mike Myers, audiences everywhere will be scratching their heads going – haven’t we seen this before somewhere? And a few might recall the performance made by the late Bert Lahr, But unlike lovable lion character he portrays, Myers Cat even with his hat full of special effects, comes off as an annoying bore.
When he’s not ripping other people’s routines, we’re plunged into Mike Myers wacky world of humor. Where he works directly with the camera virtually ignoring the rest of the cast. This has worked incredibly well as ‘Austin Powers’ and on ‘SNL’, but somehow it seems wrong seeing Myer-isms as the costumed cat.
As always, there’s about 15 minutes of worthwhile scenes in this new ‘Cat in the Hat’ which can be enjoyed well into the future on discount DVD’s, but in the meantime, if you are craving a holiday movie to take the kids to this season, try out ‘Elf’ or Looney Tunes instead. Better yet, use the matinee money to go and purchase a collection of real ‘Cat in the Hat’ stories in book format. If you’re kids already have them, buy some more and donate them to your local libraries and schools so that children everywhere will realize there’s the ‘real’ ‘Cat in the Hat’ written by Dr. Seuss then there’s this live-action disaster that will hopefully soon be forgotten by winters end.
For Movie Magazine this is a soured Purple cat in my own hat.
© 2003 - Purple - Air Date: 11/19/03
The Cat in the Hat
USA - 2003