Making the Grades
Arguably Dr. Seuss wrote for children. The rhythm and rhyme of his simple and sometimes nonsensical stories appeal to young listeners, beginning readers and older kids as well. So it only makes sense that a film (and a mass of merchandise) clearly targeted at children would at least resemble the childhood classic.
Far from it. Both the charm and the magic of his book has been set aside (in the spirit of artistic license I suppose) for this cheeky, irreverent interpretation of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.
With enough face padding and white make-up to substantially minimize his human nose but not his personality, Mike Meyers is the outlandish cat with the red and white striped hat that mysteriously shows up on a gloomy, damp day at the house of Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and Sally (Dakota Fanning).
Compelled to spend a dreary afternoon with their soundly sleeping sitter (Amy Hill), the two siblings have strict orders to stay out of the freshly cleaned living room. Their mother, Joan (Kelly Preston), is hosting a big bash that evening for her germ-phobic boss (Sean Hayes) and other coworkers from the Humberfloob Real Estate office.
However, The Cat isn't about to let a few directives, like no jumping on the couch, get in the way of his amusement. Appealing to the rule breaking inclinations of Conrad, he suggests some unorthodox activities that are sure to be fun, fun, fun. Even Sally, despite her better judgment and law-abiding proclivity, ultimately gets drawn in.
But as is all too often the case, a little unsupervised fun soon turns to bedlam. The grave results of their exuberant entertainment smack them in the face when a snoopy next-door neighbor barges in and gets wind of it all. Racing off to tattle to their mom, their neighbor leaves Sally and Conrad with little time to make things right.
Anyone who's read the book will know how it all turns out. What they might not anticipate is the extra material added to embellish the script. Scatological jokes, a pin-up girl, double-entendres and the acronym for a vehicle that spells a profanity are a few of the things not found in the original story. Rough and tumble cartoon violence, a piddling pooch and a beer-guzzling boyfriend (Alec Baldwin) are crammed in along with a club scene featuring a minimally clad real-life socialite parading her wares and catching the undivided attention of The Cat.
While much anticipated by schools and libraries as a way to promote reading (like Holes, Tuck Everlasting and the Harry Potter series), this film may have more content concerns than poetic cadence when it comes to family viewers. In the style of Seuss, I have to say:
This cat in the hat
Is not for me.
No, no, not for me
Or my family.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.
Giving children rules is one thing but having them choose to obey them without adult involvement is another. How does your family teach your children to respond to that little voice The Cat admits he can barely hear?
The Cat brings one scene to a grinding halt to plug a pair of tickets for Universal Studios. How do you feel about sponsors and merchandising that are tied in with movies? Do you think that the interests of sponsors may have an effect on the content of a film?