Directed by Bo Welch.
Running Time: 78 minutes
There was a 1960's song that sang, "Look what they've done to my song, Ma. Look what they've done to my song.' I am sure this is Dr. Suess' lament as sees what Universal Pictures has done to his book.
While Mom (Kelly Preston) goes to work, Sally (Fanning) and Conrad (Stephen Breslin) are left in the care of their babysitter, Mrs Kwan (Amy Hill). Sally and Conrad are chalk and cheese. Sally is a control freak and neurotically clean. Conrad is a mischievous slob. With Mom out of the way, her suitor and next door neighbour Quinn (Baldwin) sees an opportunity to show the children who is soon going to be boss in their house. Sally and Conrad cannot stand Quinn. After Mrs Kwan falls asleep, the Cat in the Hat (Myers) arrives to wreck havoc on the house, teach Sally how to have "fun' and Conrad how to be responsible.
Three writers, Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, went to work on "adapting' for the screen this best loved creation of Dr. Seuss. These three literary vandals have kept the rhyming couplets, clever cadences and the outline of the story. But within this framework they have destroyed the innocence of the original work. In its place we get a grotesque and cynical imitation.
The humour is graphically crude, and there are some scenes that are so sadistically cruel, especially to Mrs Kwan, that I wondered what sort of adult thought this was decent fare for a child?
The only things going for The Cat in the Hat are the pace of the film and the special effects.
These features, however, cannot save this film from being one of the biggest misfires in recent memory.
Sadly, The Cat in the Hat is such a betrayal of Dr Seuss, it is not a film to which you can take your children or grandchildren. Whoever could have predicated that a reviewer would one day have to write such a thing?
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.