Cat in the Hat

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The plot in a nutshell
A live action version of the classic Dr. Seuss story, A Cat in the Hat.  Think How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but with Mike Myers in the full body fur suit instead of Jim Carrey.

Our heroine, Mom (played by Kelly Preston) works for a neat freak, Mr. Humberfloob (played by Sean Hayes).  She has to host the big client meet and greet at her home that night, but her son tends to do the opposite of everything she says, making a huge mess at every turn.  The problems are compounded by a sleazy next door neighbor (Alec Baldwin), who's intent on marrying Mom and sending her son Conrad off to military school.

Then the Cat in the Hat shows up and destroys the house, but manages to teach both the kids and the sleazy neighbor a lesson or two, and still gets everything put back together with the help of Thing 1 and Thing 2 before the big party.  And they all leaved happily ever after, if in a house that looks exactly like everyone else's.

Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
There's a cameo of Paris Hilton in this movie.  She says nothing, and is only on screen for a couple seconds.  It's one of the highlights.

One of the advantages - or disadvantages - of catching films on DVD, months after their original release in theaters, is that you've pretty much forgotten any of the specifics of the critic's reviews.  Oh sure, I remember they didn't particularly like this movie, but then, they hated Carrey's Grinch too, and that was at least a mediocre film, with some pretty funny moments thrown in.

Unfortunately, this film is every bit as bad as the critics said, and then some.  It actually starts up pretty well, and the sets and design look fantastic.  The director is Bo Welch, his first time in that chair, and he's better known for his great production design work on visually amazing films like Edward Scissorhands, Ghostbusters II, both Men in Black films, and Beetlejuice.  It's clear he has an amazing eye for fantastical sets, and doesn't disappoint with the look of the town, houses, and characters.  Unfortunately, nothing else about this movie works.

Much of the humor is repetitive and dull.  At least three or four times, we get the "was going to say a dirty word but changed it at the last second" joke, and it wasn't all that funny the first time (there's even another one in the deleted scenes).  Myers mugs his way along as the Cat, part Austin Powers, part Cowardly Lion.  Every time he guffawed, I was expecting Dorothy to pop out from behind him and yell "Yea, Baby!"

Carrey did a decent job as the Grinch, and his best moments were when he was allowed to do his thing, unencumbered by other actors on screen.  Here, Myers is woefully miscast, and the fur coat never seems to fit.  There are a few funny bits - I particularly liked the whole 'thing 2 name' routine - but they were lost in the sea of clunkers.  At times, Sally, the young girl played by Dakota Fanning, would look at Myers as if he'd just said the stupidest thing she'd ever heard - I pretty sure she wasn't acting.

And speaking of her acting, she was the highlight of the cast.  She did a fine job with what she had, and I actually felt for her as she looked in from the outside on her friends playing at the party.  She'll be the young girl guarded by Denzel Washington in the upcoming Man on Fire, and her performance here made me a little more positive about that film.

Any discussion of the acting wouldn't be complete without mentioning Alec Baldwin.  How is it possible that someone could turn in the kind of performance that he did in the recent The Cooler, and turn around and do something this bad?  He's atrocious as the obnoxious boyfriend, completely out of place, and not in the least bit funny.  Somebody needs to help Alec pick his scripts.

Rating - Skip It.  Actually, avoid at all costs.
I've seen worse movies, but not many.  Do yourself a huge favor, and avoid this film.  Your kids may want to see it, but do their young, fragile minds a huge favor and rent Brother Bear this week instead.  It's not a great film like Finding Nemo, but it's far superior to this nasty hairball.

Spoiler Laden Thoughts
Trust me, there's nothing to spoil..

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