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The Cat In The Hat
cast: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Sean Hayes, and Dakota Fanning

director: Bo Welch

78 minutes (12) 2003 Universal
VHS rental or retail
Also available to rent or buy on DVD
[released 16 August]

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by John Percival
Sally and Conrad are at home, their mom is at work, they have no games to play and outside it is cold and wet. If that was not bad enough then they are forced to spend the afternoon with crotchety babysitter Mrs Kwan. Then, in bursts excitement in the form of a very strange Cat (Mike Myers) whose hat contains many wonders. Along with his team, Thing One and Thing Two, chaos ensues as the Cat takes over the house and teaches the mother's boyfriend (Alec Baldwin) a thing or two!
   So that is the idea, but would film based on a book for small children succeed in including an older audience in this big screen adaptation? Also would the feline of the title actually amount to anything more than just Austin Powers in a cat-suit (?) and not the sexy cat suit either! The answer is 'yes!' on both counts, although during the crucial moments when Myers first appears on screen and tries to establish himself as the Cat, I expected him to shout "Groovy Baby!" This film is pure chaos but is very pleasant on the eye with the familiar Dr Seuss weirdness. That is what makes it comforting. There are few hidden layers here as all we have is pure entertainment wrapped around simple moral story for kids. It may be as deep as a puddle but it is as wide as an ocean and that is no bad thing. Director Bo Walsh has done an amazing job of taking the Dr Seuss vision and making it flesh, in pretty much the same way that Ron Howard did with The Grinch. But the similarities should stop there, so should any comparison between Myers' Cat in the Hat and Jim Carrey's Grinch. Each has done an impressive job to make the different characters their own, even though the path from bad naughty cat/grinch to doing the right thing is the same.
   There is also an amusing pantomime performance by Alec Baldwin who, as the mother's boyfriend, is trying to deceive her into thinking he is a successful businessman when really he is a fat slob. Plus once he marries the mother he intends to send Conrad away to school. If one cat was not causing enough trouble then we are introduced to the odd Thing One and Thing Two who apparently do the opposite of whatever you want them too. It takes Conrad some time to work that one out. The kids are made to feel a lot of stress as they have been told not to mess up the house as their mother is hosting a work party there in the evening, but the cat, two things and a lot of very funny gags result in house being half ripped into another even weirder dimension.
   Whilst incredibly more chaotic than I ever believe a Dr Seuss story would be, The Cat In The Hat is a weirdly surreal but extremely enjoyable journey with enough rude jokes to keep the adults laughing and enough of a moral tale to justify being a kid's story. With the summer holidays here, the family could do worse than spending quality time together watching this film.

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