For the visual movie fan who loses grasp on a plot due to the intricacy of a distracting backdrop, "The Cat in the Hat" is sure to entertain. Those wishing for something beyond fabulous sets and creative special effects, however, shouldn't prepare for much else.
Rated PG, Universal Pictures' and Dreamworks' "Cat in the Hat" is filled with double entendres and not intended for the same age group for which the incomparable Dr. Seuss wrote his beloved children's books. Sticking loosely to the original story (the book has less pages than the movie has minutes), a choice was made to fill space with crude, adolescent humor.
For example, the rake used by the original Cat in the Hat for the basis of his juggling act turns up at an unexpected time and is converted to a garden hoe. The Cat regards the object with a street term used to degrade women. Don't take the kiddies to this one unless you want to do some awkward explaining.
However tasteless, Myers' spitting up of a hair ball and the inappropriate innuendoes can be ignored for the joy of saturating oneself in a colorful trip into Seussland. Directed by Bo Welch, who handled production design for the "Men in Black" movies, the film takes viewers into an artificial, surrealistic world inspired by the books many of us grew up with and adored. The original illustrations of "The Cat in the Hat" were printed in simple, primary red and blue in 1957. Welch borrowed a popular decorating color scheme from this era consisting of bubble gum pink and chartreuse green to create a retro theme. Trees and shrubbery glow and appear synthetic, as they drip with a neon, plastic like moss, while furniture seems to take on an animated, organic look. The same treatment given to Seuss' plants was applied to his critters, who have feet that seem to go on forever with floppy fur. None of this is lost in the movie, which is less a version of the book than a tribute to Seuss' illustrative imagination.
As the Cat, Mike Myers is a raunchier version of Jack Benny, a comedian who was regularly seen on the tube from living rooms not too far removed from the "Bauhaus goes bubble gum" interior design applied to the room where Sally and Conrad watch the rain and wait for something to go "bump."
As the background makes this movie, the real stars are the computer designers behind the scenes. Their colorful, creative reenactment of a set stocked with Seussisms is endearing to anyone who read the books.
As in the Seuss story, the madness really begins when Thing Two and Thing One arrive as "fun-in-a-box." Let's not forget the real roots of Madge Simpson's blue beehive. These pint-size, computer-enhanced hell-raisers are a magical sight to behold.
As in the book, the Goldfish is a powerful force, popping up everywhere in his bright Fiesta ware tea pot to warn and scold. He and the Things are animated marvels.
For Mike Myers fans who loved his Austin Powers, finding him stuffed into a musty cat suit delivering tired, not so funny lines is disappointing. Dakota Fanning is adorable as Sally. Alec Baldwin is amusing as the boyfriend of the children's mother. He diligently sets out to convince her he is not the beer-drinking, lazy slob he truly is - a real life theme everyone can relate to.