Thursday, November 20, 2003

Rhymes with "shat"

Movie: Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

Posted on Thu, Nov 20, 2003 at 4:00 AM

Our Rating: 1.50

Director Bo Welch used to be a production designer for Tim Burton, so it's no surprise that the ice-cream-colorful sets, props and costumes are the key redeeming features of this Seuss-reaming travesty. Oh, and co-star Dakota Fanning gives the inane proceedings her usual radiant all. Otherwise, it's about as bad as you'd fear, with Mike Myers' Cat -- who appears to have just downed a 40-pound bag of Meow Mix -- arriving in a suburban household and promptly admitting to its pint-sized inhabitants that he has no talent for rhyming. (What the ... ?) What follows is an unpoetic, painfully prolonged ego trip of a play date that sees Myers again trotting out warhorse caricatures like his Linda Richman and Scotsman personae, mugging shamelessly through an unfunny series of living-room crises and spending more time looking into the camera than into the eyes of his fellow actors. The housebound kids (played by Fanning and former Bruce Willis foil Spencer Breslin) are depicted as a Type A tattletale and a mischievous terror, respectively, which pretty much obliterates the idea that their homelife is supposed to be a moral blank slate upon which the Cat imposes his chaotic whims. Casting about for more ways to get its every underpinning just plain wrong, the movie replaces Seuss' gently anarchic whimsies with a brace of belches, butt cracks and other gags that we can only hope represent the nadir of the ongoing family movie crap shoot. (And did I mention how unsettling it is that Thing 1 and Thing 2 look like a couple of thalidomide babies?) In the arguable lowest moment, nutty neighbor Alec Baldwin picks lint out of his navel. Somebody ought to boil Ted Geisel's widow, Audrey, like a dust speck for allowing Universal to take such cynical license with some of our happiest childhood memories.


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