Directed by: Bo Welch
Written by: Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
Starring: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin
Even when everything may go wrong in life, having a clean house can provide a level of relief and sanity in life. Achieving this comes much easier when children are not involved because they know how to mess up a house. Strangely this becomes a major part of this story along with the lesson of being a good kid in the demented but admittedly hilarious The Cat in the Hat.
Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad (Spencer Breslin) live with their thriving single mother, Joan (Kelly Preston). She can do it all with having the highest real estate numbers amid raising her kids on her own. When the opportunity to throw a party involving her hypochondriac boss arises, she begs the children to keep the house clean. Things get complicated when the children see the appearance of this large cat named Cat (Mike Myers), who has some magical powers.
Take out the tone and the message of this film, and it could easily be considered a horror movie. Two children need to keep their house clean, and this large anthropomorphic cat comes to essentially torment them. His appearance seemingly comes out of nowhere and he refuses to leave these children alone with the promise they will have fun if they sign a contract with him. In the process of signing the contract, he has lawyers, who suddenly appear to ensure the validity of this process. Everything about this film is beyond demented, but my goodness it definitely made me laugh.
In all transparency, I’m pretty sure this is the first film I watched in the theater when I was very young. I definitely dragged my mother to watch this and I have not seen it since I turned nine. Watching this again as an adult for this review solidified why this film has such a terrible reputation, but admire the sheer audaciousness of everything it seeks to achieve. The colors happening in this film are simply out of control. Extreme purple, green, pink, and yellow cover every inch of this weird town. Based on Dr. Seuss’s story of the same name, which I strangely have never read, it comes with its eccentricities. Instead of polishing them for the feature film, the filmmakers instead decided to go all-in on the weirdness of this world, which made for some funny and incredibly inappropriate humor.
I recall enjoying this film as a child, but I did not get half of the jokes at the time. The crude humor this feature utilizes shocked me on this recent rewatch, which only solidifies this feature had no business being a PG film. One glaring example comes when Cat sees a picture of Sally and Conrad’s mother. He grabs the picture frame and pulls it down like it’s the centerfold of a naughty magazine while his hat simultaneously grows like an aroused penis. I could not fathom what I was witnessing in this PG film. Several jokes the film laid out continued to boggle me because Cat managed to cater to all audiences.
Any enjoyment someone could obtain from The Cat in the Hat comes from the performance of Mike Myers as the titular character. The design of this cat will give you nightmares but once one you get past all of it, you see Mike Myers being the brilliant screen presence he has always been. Half of the jokes written for him don’t work if coming from another person. He fully went in with this demonic cat and I enjoyed each time he yelled out “Oh yeah!” or he would look at the audience reacting to the naughty things he just said. Everyone else comes on for the ride and the child actors try their best with the material they were given.
All of the positivity I’ve had thus far in this review should not detract that this film’s reputation remains mostly correct. It’s an incompetently made film with a watered-down story but my goodness I have to acknowledge my appreciation for the attempt of trying to create entertainment for kids while also making this as scary as one could ever imagine. Take Thing 1 and Thing 2, which came straight from the gates of hell to wreak havoc. I’m not sure how the kids did not run out of the house the second they say those little monsters.
Amid all of its glaring faults, I have to say I enjoyed revisiting this monstrous film. What should have never been turned into a live-action film, actually succeeds in creating some hilarious sequences, which I can still quote to this day. It fails in many ways as a narrative feature film, but when you have Mike Myers dressed as a large cat, what else can you expect? For better or worse, this feature has left an impact on my film viewing life and I hope others can see past its horrifying reputation to experience this terrifying movie.