CAT IN THE HAT, THE
Young siblings Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad (Spencer Breslin) have driven their single mum Joan Walden (Kelly Preston) to the edge, their different and differing personalities as much of a strain as her eccentric and demanding boss at the real estate agency where she works. Things are tense when their neighbour, and Joan’s suitor, the slimy Lawrence Quinn (Alec Baldwin) tries to have Joan send Conrad to military school to get his troublesome little butt out of the way. On the day of the company party Joan is to host, while Mrs Kwan (Amy Hill) is called in to baby-sit, an unexpected guest in the shape of an oversize cat in a hat (Mike Myers) turns up to show the kids what fun really means, and turn the house upside down – literally.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
I love this film, enjoyed it on several levels and smiled throughout, when I wasn’t laughing. The energy sweeps us along the comedic free for all, in a superb piece of filmmaking, combining all the crafts in one unified bottle of fun. Mike Myers does for the Cat what Jim Carrey did for the Mask, plying his physical comedy on top of his verbal gymnastics, with a delivery that’s impossibly good.
But he is not the only one to engage us, with both the siblings’ characters given faultless presence by Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin. The grown ups, although almost marginalised by the three partying at the centre of the storm, are all solid, while the film’s funtabulous story plays out with a gentle but discernible (positive) message for kids. The production design is a great example of how form should follow function.
This is one of the most refined and developed design concepts put on screen, created with a sense of fun but still accessible even at its zaniest. Self indulgence was clearly not the driving force – likewise the score, which celebrates its origins in accompaniment to slapstick but reinvents it for today’s ears.
Not only does the film tickle our funny bone, but its literary origins ensures the script is above the average in its serious silliness. The Cat In The Hat is inventive and informed, as well as furiously, endearingly crazy.
Review by Louise Keller:
It’s all about fun, and fun is exactly what we have, in Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, a joyously sublime and irreverent adventure packaged in the most exquisite of production designs. From the pages of the beloved children’s tale comes this blissfully inventive screen adaptation that is embellished and expanded creatively for maximum visual impact. And who could be more perfect to play the idiosyncratic Cat whose red and white striped hat magically shrinks, stretches and morphs into different shapes, but Mike Myers, whose child-like enthusiasm and zeal is inspiration.
From the producer and writers of the The Grinch, award-winning production designer Bo Welch (Edward Scissorhands, Men in Black) makes his feature film debut, shows us that he knows how to entertain with a witty and light touch to charm us all. Filled with spontaneity, surprises and visual delights, the film’s reality envelops us, as we enter the fictional township of Anville, with its rows of identical pale mauve houses with blue roofs, bright pastel cars and stylised plastic trees.
The target of The Cat’s attentions, are ‘the control freak’ and ‘the rule breaker’, splendidly played by two youngsters Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam) and Spencer Breslin (The Kid), who actually look and sound like kids. Of course the object is to teach them how to have fun, and what a journey it is from the very first moment that they spy the six foot feline with the curly tail, floppy red tie and outrageous personality. Then there are the two helpers, Thing 1 and Thing 2 who do exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to do. There’s a very funny sequence when the two Things use their bodies to soak up the purple stains which the exploding oven has splattered all over the house, but somehow once removed from one surface, they mysteriously reappear on the couch, the walls and beyond.
Wait until you see scene-stealing Myer’s Cat dressed as Carmen Miranda complete with long red talons, or as a bullfighter in red spangled outfit, plus other outrageous guises. Kelly Preston’s real-estate single mother Joan looks as though she has come direct from Pleasantville, while Alec Baldwin’s grotesquely funny next-door neighbour would-be beau Lawrence bulging out of a tight bright purple suit, is a hoot.
The joy is in the details – like the walking, talking lock, the baby-sitter (Amy Hill, hilarious) hung in the wardrobe on a hanger, the Cat playing pizzicato on his whiskers, and a goldfish screaming directions as the car speeds along with three drivers. Hang onto your hat, it’s a wild and invigorating ride of welcome insanity
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CAT IN THE HAT, THE (G)
CAST: Mike Myers, Kelly Preston, Alec Baldwin, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Amy Hill, Sean Hayes
PRODUCER: Brian Grazer
DIRECTOR: Bo Welch
SCRIPT: Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer (based on the book by Theodor S. Geisel aka Dr. Seuss)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Emmanuel Lubezki A.S.C.
EDITOR: Don Zimmerman
MUSIC: Marc Shaiman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex McDowell
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 1, 2004