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Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

This is no kids' bedtime story

Published November 24, 2003

The Cat in the Hat
[Columbia Pictures]
Mike Myers, as The Cat in the Hat, is flanked by Spencer Breslin, left, who plays Conrad, and Dakota Fanning, as Sally.
Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

The Cat in the Hat

Rating: PG

Summary: Sally (Dakota Fanning) and Conrad (Spencer Breslin) are the two young children of a hardworking mother, living in a quaint little town. Sally is very well-behaved and organized, while Conrad is not. Mom (Kelly Preston) is a bit stressed over a party she will host at her home under the watchful eye of an overbearing and obsessive boss, Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes). He has threatened to fire her if her home is anything short of being perfectly, compulsively clean. When she is called back to work the day of the party, she leaves the house in the children's hands, with explicit instructions to keep it spotless. Stagnant with boredom and in the company of their elderly and oblivious babysitter (Amy Hill), the children are visited by a strange, large, talking cat in a red and white striped hat (Mike Myers). He claims to hold the key to having an amazingly fun day, but the kids are skeptical, afraid that the house might end up a mess - at the very least. Going against their gut instincts (especially Sally's), they agree to sign a "contract" without having any idea of trouble the Cat will get them into before the day is over.

My view: I'm not quite sure what to make of this life-sized version of one of the great children's books. It pays fair tribute to the classic Dr. Seuss book, but in a way it's almost irrelevant - partly because of the numerous plot embellishments, but mainly because of the movie's surprisingly mature-themed characteristics. Amid this supposed PG-rated children's story, adult humor is thrown at you at a relentless, frenetic pace. In some instances, my mouth dropped open in disbelief. . It was actually funny how much they were able to get away with, while barely maintaining a decent amount "integrity" and "respectability" (I use these terms lightly). There's no other way to describe Myers' performance than wildly insane. It's as if he'd been on a caffeine binge for two weeks before he filmed this. Just as you are catching your breath from his totally hyper performance, in come the infamous Thing One and Thing Two. These Things were flat-out creepy; their frenzied pace made the Cat look calm! They were disturbing in an Oompa Loompa kind of way - I still have nightmares about those things. In fact, this whole film had a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory feel to it - it was just way out there. The best way to sum this flick up comes from the words of the Cat himself: "Yep - Pure unadulterated fun without any good sense of judgment."

Recommendations/Warnings: The Cat in the Hat book has been enjoyed by generations of parents and kids, and those are the ones who will be flocking to the theaters to see this rendition. It's probably one of the most questionable films to ever fall under the category of "classic children's story." I actually think it's better suited to teenagers who will get a kick out of it, like I did. But parents, be warned that this is not your typical sweet, calming bedtime story.

Grade: B-

Billy Norris, 16, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified November 21, 2003, 12:36:20]

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