Cat in the Hat (2003)
Mike Myers makes a fine feline
You can find just about anything on the World Wide Web. Need to find out how to submit a letter to the Editor of this publication? Then just head over to www.fsu.ca/interrobang. Want to find out if Charles Bronson is alive or dead? You can get this information from the Internet. Need to find a video of a monkey drinking it’s own urine for a school project? The Internet has got that too.
In fact just about the only thing you won’t find on the information super highway is a positive review of the 2003 film The Cat in the Hat.
Lawrence Toppman of the Charlotte Observer declared that the film is “82 of the most wretched minutes ever imprinted on celluloid.”
The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr stated, “If the producers had dug up Ted Geisel’s [Dr. Seuss’] body and hung it from a tree, they couldn’t have desecrated the man any more.”
Finally, Gregory Weinkauf of the Dallas Observer suggested that “They might as well have skipped the hassle of securing licensing rights and simply called this mess Mike Myers: Asshole in Fur.”
This lukewarm response by my peers hardly made me excited about seeing the film. Not to mention the fact that I think cats are lame. Especially ones that try to climb up on my new sofa, or sit in front of me purring constantly while I’m trying to enjoy a bowl of Cheerios or the last hour of Gangs of New York.
So I waited almost three-and-a-half years before finally giving the film a chance. I certainly did not go into this viewing with high expectations. Basically, I thought the film was going to be an utter cat-astrophe. However, it turned out to be sheer purr-fection!
The Cat in the Hat book was a simple tale about a fun loving giant cat that entertains two children while their mother is away. Along with two creatures named Thing One and Thing Two, the cat creates all sorts of havoc and mess, but luckily things all get cleaned just before the mom comes home.
Luckily, the creative team behind this film saw the need to punch things up a bit. So in addition to the basic premise of the book, we also get erection and butt-crack sight gags, the cat being strung-up like a piñata and hit in the testicles, and an impromptu rave with a cameo by Paris Hilton. Why didn’t you think of all that, Seussy?
A finer cast could not have been assembled, and each actor gives the performance of his/her career.
Kelly Preston (Twins, Jerry Maguire), best know as the wife of John Travolta, is terrific in the role of Mom. The character seems to be oblivious to most of what is going on, and responds to all situations with a bit of a crazed look and a smile. Certainly Preston’s background in Scientology was great preparation.
As the lecherous next-door neighbour, who is trying to romance Mom, while also trying to convince her to send her son to military school, Alec Baldwin is a hoot. His performances in Glengarry Glenross, The Cooler and The Departed have brought him much acclaim. But it is his role in this film, which requires him to belch, fart and pick lint out of his belly button that is truly his most remarkable accomplishment.
Last, but certainly not least, is the always fantastic Mike Myers as The Cat. Despite my views on the book, he has taken a role that has been loved by generations of readers and added layer after layer to the character. You’ll laugh with delight as The Cat delivers lines like, “Wow! This is just like the carnival, just without the abused animals and the drunken clowns with hepatitis.” You’ll howl when he says to a garden hoe, “Dirty Hoe… I’m sorry, I love you.” I don’t think I could be accused of hyperbole if I stated that Myers’ delivers the greatest performance in the history of the cinema, or any other performance venue.
I sure hope that the old saying is true, the one about cats having nine lives. You know what that would mean – eight sequels. While they’re at it, maybe they can make my favourite Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham into a movie. I could really see Kate Winslet and Carrot Top starring in it.