The Beauty Of: The Cat in the Hat(2003)

“The Beauty Of” explores media that is either unknown or hated by most, but appreciated by a few tasteless little goblins.

Adaptations of Dr. Seuss books are always interesting, due to the amount of free reign the writer and director have over the plot. Even though they’re based on something that already exists, the books are so short and simple that you can basically go anywhere with them. The various movie versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas are a good example of this, with all three managing to be majorly different from each other even though they came from the same source material. This said, I am not talking about The Grinch today. I am talking about the infamous 2003 live-action Cat in the Hat movie.

I’d like to begin by saying this: I know it’s garbage. We all know that. And although my last article was over a film that is genuinely probably one of the best examples of horror of all time, that’s not really why I’m here. I am here to talk about the 2003 live-action Cat in the Hat movie, and by god I’ll do it.

Now, as this film has very little cultural significance(barring the fact that the movie industry will just take a well-known concept, some big names, and whatever hot garbage it wants to create a movie) and no real symbolism, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, I think the best way to go about this is to just write this as I watch, with a summary of my thoughts at the end.

To start: the set is beautiful, actually. It looks very Dr. Seuss in the strangely colorful but minimalistic architecture of the houses, and there’s so much of it. I truly wonder how much money they spent just making this little neighborhood that only appears in a few shots. It’s not even a scale model; there’s people walking through it and everything. I genuinely like it, they’ve even got those lovely little Dr. Seuss trees. Now, onto the plot. It seems that Sally and Conrad’s mom works for an extremely germaphobic man named Mr. Humberfloob. The mom is to host the company party that day, but Conrad is a little trash boy who can’t chill out for one second. Joan, the mother, will be fired if the house is a mess, but she can’t watch her kids because she’s needed at work. She hires a babysitter who falls asleep almost immediately while watching “Taiwanese Parliament Filibuster” on TV, which just seems to be a bunch of people fighting in a courtroom. Then the Cat comes in and destroys everything, everyone, all that we hold dear in this life. Michael Myers was probably the number one worst choice that could have been made for the role of the Cat. Not necessarily because he isn’t a good actor, just because it has made it so that the character will forever seem to be a chaotic evil, dark and powerful force to me from now on. Now, of course the recent Cats adaptation is bad, but at least we can rest easy knowing that the actors didn’t look like the cat from this Cat in the Hat movie.

The acting and cinematography work together in this to literally make it look and feel cartoonish and unreal. As that is probably what they were going for, I’ll count that as a positive. Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin did wonderfully in their roles, and Kelly Preston did a perfect portrayal of a mother on the verge of a total mental breakdown. Alec Baldwin made me hate the character of Lawrence “Larry” Quinn basically immediately, with his whole “Haha ha I’m dating your mom and also I hate you” thing towards Conrad. I didn’t even like Conrad’s character and I still sympathized for him. Mike Myers… I truly wonder if he had a script. Or followed the script. I feel like he just played a strange amalgamation of all the characters that he’d previously played. Also, I kept a tally of how many times he said “OHH YEAHH” in an obnoxious voice. It was eight, plus the one time at the end that SALLY said it. May not sound like a lot, but trust me: it felt like a lot. Did they just release him? Tell him to say the first two letters of a curse word a few times? Threaten violence very directly towards various people and animals? Drool over a picture of the kids’ mom while his hat extends suggestively? Laugh in a strange, wheezy way that makes me think he’s a serial arsonist? Was this intended?

This said… I do not regret watching this movie. It deeply upset me, but honestly? It upset me in the way that any stupidly bad movie should. I knew what I was getting into and I actually enjoyed it. It was shock humor, and juvenile shock humor at that, but it amused me. The kids having to drag him away from approaching another kid, baseball bat poised to strike… the whole “these are the cool magical fun fairies!! … Ok, they’re my lawyers…” and the classic “I’ll get you, and it’ll look like a bloody accident!” Overall, I truly do understand why it has 2 stars on IMDB. However… treat it like one of those awful inbred dogs. Obviously, it’s tragic that they exist. Just created against their will to appease the masses. But let’s not be PETA and take that to mean we should kill the ones that are alive! As long as they’re here… let’s appreciate them. Keep adopting, don’t buy the poor things, consume good and thoughtful media… but just because The Cat in the Hat movie is openly money-grabbing trash(Universal Studios commercial in the middle of the movie!! The jokes like “We even managed to work in an up-tempo pop song for the soundtrack!”) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Stop being pretentious and watch the garbage media.