The Cat in the Hat
Mike Myers is no stranger to playing weird characters Ė Dr Evil, Goldmember, Fat Bastard and so on Ė but a six foot insane, hyperactive, talking cat in a striped hat has to be the strangest. Based on the ever popular Dr Seussís books, the visually wacky universe has been brought to life with splendour.
Single mother Joan (Kelly Preston Ė who plays a complete Mother as the books only ever portrayed her as a pair of legs) sells real estate, but her job is at stake as her boss, Mr Humberfloob (Sean Hayes) who has a germ phobia, insists that her house is completely spotless when the company hosts a function there later.
Joan has a smarmy and sinister suitor called Quinn (Alec Baldwin) who has plans for her two children namely her son Conrad (Spencer Breslin). He and his sister Sally (Dakota Fanning) have issues of their own. Sally is a control freak of the highest order and Conrad is preoccupied with making sure that Quinn doesnít manage to convince his mother that he should be sent to Military School.
The two children are left in the less than capable hands of narcoleptic babysitter Mrs Kwan (Amy Hill) one rainy day, which just happens to be the day that their mother will host the company function. Also on this rainy day the children are visited by the zany and yet mysterious Cat (Mike Myers) who promises fun but delivers mayhem.
With a protesting fish in tow (also voiced by Sean Hayes in his second role), the Cat manages to go on a complete bender with the kids in tow. Can they kerb the insanity before their mother returns and can they also manage to keep the prying eyes of Quinn from finding out about the Cat before itís too late?
The production design of The Cat in the Hat is superb and the design of the Cat, although very different to the literature version, is very good too. Mike Myers plays the Cat in his own style which deviates from Dr Seuss original quite a bit at times. His Cat makes sexual references towards Joan, constantly harasses Mrs Kwan Ė even to the extent of using her as a floatation device Ė and goes out of his way to wind the children up. When he brings forth the two creatures simply called Thing 1 and Thing 2 (who bear more than a passing resemblance to Oompah Loompahs) things get even more out of hand.
The designs of the sets are great and even the Cat-mobile looks the part. Itís not surprising that the sets are so good as the director is none other than famed production designer Bo Welch. Welch has worked on sets such as Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Men in Black. This is his first time out as a director and has managed to fall into the trap that The Grinch fell into which is great sets and a very funny comic actor in the lead are one thing, but without a good script the resultant product is pretty arbitrary.
Performances are obviously headed by Mike Myers who plays the Cat with gusto and enough chuckling smarminess to be entertaining. He is totally unrecognisable underneath the makeup and does get to go nuts even more than usual. Alec Baldwin is also very entertaining as the conniving villain of the piece. The rest of the cast are outdone by a CGI goldfish which isnít a good sign.
The Cat in the Hat is entertaining enough on some levels but once the mad shenanigans of Mike Myers wear off then the end result leave a very unsatisfied feeling. Itís a little too inappropriate for younger viewers with the sexual references, but too mindless for more adult viewers. Letís hope that no-one tries to make Green Eggs & Ham into a film.
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