The Cat in the Hat (2003)—Pure Dr. Suess Nightmare Fuel!
Updated: Aug 24, 2022
Why is it that cat-themed films are just awful? This is the second cat-themed movie I’ve reviewed and the third one on Film Purgatory! Ok, I admit, I’m more of a dog person myself, but I really don’t have anything against cats! But no matter, let’s get to the review of this dumpster fire of a film that would make the late Dr. Seuss roll in his grave.
Conrad and Sally Walden (played by Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning) are two siblings who are polar opposites, with Conrad being a rule breaker and Sally being a control freak. When their mom, Joan Walden (played by Kelly Preston) goes back to work to prepare for a business party and tells them not to trash the house while she’s gone, the two kids soon meet an anthropomorphic cat (played by Mike Myers) wearing a tall hat who claims to be full of fun. The Cat in the Hat soon drags the two kids into a mayhem of insanity as they trash the house.
Now for the record, let me preface by saying that I’ve seen a lot of bad movies in my career as a film critic. But this one takes the cake as one of the worst films I’ve EVER seen! I believe that even the worst movies have at least one good scene or are at least fun to watch for how bad they are. However, this movie doesn’t apply to either of the aforementioned criteria. 2003’s The Cat in the Hat is one of the most insufferable films I’ve ever laid eyes on! It’s loud, obnoxious and above all, not funny in the slightest.
Even though the film is geared towards children, for some reason it decided to contain way too much adult humor. Why would you need to put in adult-themed humor in a children’s movie? What purpose does it serve? Does it make the film more bearable for the adults who decided to accompany their kids? Because it really failed to accomplish that mission. Speaking of the rest of the humor, Mike Myers is normally a funny guy, but his humor in this slop-fest is nothing short of torturous. All of his supposed punchlines are followed up with a creepy and awkward laugh. Meanwhile, the actual jokes themselves either don’t make sense or are just lazy attempts to break the fourth wall. Are you sure this wasn’t just Deadpool in a Cat in the Hat costume?
Speaking of which, the costume itself is beyond horrifying. It looks like Mike Myers’ face was carved into this ball of fur and every time he smiles, it looks like a demon about to eat my soul! Additionally, the design for Thing 1 and Thing 2 are equally as horrifying. While the two characters don’t have upper lips in the books, drawings don’t always translate to real life adaptations. For example, if you try to directly adapt anime to live action, having eyes that take up a quarter of your face would be terrifying to look at. Not to mention the bizarre and inhuman movement patterns of the Things. Seriously, just recolor them and you would be watching demons from Hell!
Almost every performance is overacted to the extreme. The opening scene alone is a perfect example of this, with Joan’s boss loudly firing an employee over the crime of…shaking his hand. Why? Because he’s bizarrely obsessed with cleanliness, even though he’s the head of a realtor company. I felt like the whole film tried to be a Nick Cage film, even though it lacked Nick Cage. Everyone is so over the top and crazy that you have to wonder what it is like to live in this town. The only performance that I could think of that is somewhat fun was Alec Baldwin as Joan’s neighbor who is obsessed with marrying her and vehemently hates Conrad. Baldwin has this energy of just not caring at all how bizarre his performance is and just rolls with the absurdity of the film, much like Colin Farrell in Daredevil, which coincidentally also came out in 2003.
Just to add to the film’s growing list of problems, we have a racist caricature of Asian representation in the form of Mrs. Kwan: Conrad and Sally’s babysitter. Mrs. Kwan is a middle-age Taiwanese woman who watches physical fights in the Taiwanese Parliament dubbed over with racist Kung-Fu sounds. Oh and she also has a thick, stereotypical Chinese accent along with wearing thick-rimmed glasses, heavy makeup and a mole. Are you sure this wasn’t a rejected concept from Breakfast at Tiffany’s? I get that this was back in the early 2000s, but this kind of portrayal is still problematic and adds up to the negative portrayal of Asians in Hollywood. Entertainment in the early 2000s really liked to poke fun of racist stereotypes as the punchline of jokes, but when you constantly keep making fun of these stereotypes, it directly affects those you make fun of and you end up alienating and hurting them.
In summary, 2003’s Cat in the Hat is not just a bad movie. It is one of the worst films in existence! With abysmal effects, nightmare-inducing costumes, over-the-top acting and a racist caricature, what’s there not to hate about this movie? I hated this movie, I hated watching every minute of it. Why did this movie need to be made? A better question would be who is the target audience for this movie? Is it for kids? Then why is there so much adult humor that no child would understand? Is it for adults? Because if you ask me, the movie is far too annoying and nonsensical for it to have been geared towards an older audience. Is it for Dr. Seuss fans? No fan of Dr. Seuss’ works would want to be associated with this crap. By the end of the day, this movie is made for no one, and no one should have to ever see this atrocity of a film. I’d rather watch the film adaptation of Cats on repeat over this nightmare fuel any day of the week.