Cat In The Hat aka Dr Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat (2003) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin
Director: Bo Welch

This movie throws you straight into a totally fantastical and stylized world where all the houses look the same, all the cars are mostly bright yellow or lime green and all the people are wearing vibrantly coloured clothes. This is the world that sister and brother Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad (Spencer Breslin) live in but are bored on the strict instructions of their mother Joan Walden (Kelly Preston) that the house must remain spotless and everything in its place as she is hosting a company party for prospective clients that evening. Plus boyfriend and next-door neighbour Lawrence Quinn (Alec Baldwin) is duplistically trying to weave his way into their mother’s affections and oust the children, in particular Spencer who he sees as his main threat.

This is going to be difficult for Conrad who was born to create untidiness and break rules in complete contrast to his sister who organises her time around lists of ‘must do’ things. When their single mum is called back to work their undynamic childminder arrives who promptly falls asleep. Rather glum and jaded they’re jolted out of their boredom by the arrival of a talking cat with a magical red and white hat who wastes no time in cheering them up with his juggling antics but destroys the orderliness of their house in the process. Add to this his helpers Thing One and Thing Two who do the opposite they’re told to do (something Conrad is equally akin to) and the Cat’s chaotic world descends onto the Walden house and its occupants.

Mike Myers carries off the cat in the hat role with assured ease and style perfectly. He really will have the kids laughing out loud and entertains them on their level as his pranks and tricks draw Sally and Conrad into his pandemonium. But he does have a secret purpose for being there to expose rather cleverly but very chaotically the faults of Conrad’s tendency to break rules, Sally’s control freak nature to make rules and Quinn’s sleazy deceit. Kelly Preston has her character down to a tee, as does Alec Baldwin as the baddie.

Interestingly the movie is narrated throughout as a story by Victor Brandt. Making his feature debut, director Bo Welch uses his previous experience as a renowned production designer on movies such as both of the MEN IN BLACKs, BATMAN RETURNS, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and BEETLEJUICE to good and bewitching effect. He also keeps the action and humour well paced and balanced.

This is certainly a version of Dr Seuss’ beloved THE CAT IN THE HAT story that will mesmerize its young audience with the sheer audacious nature of its revelry bought to life by a talented cast and visionary director.

5 out of 6 stars