The Cat in the Hat
Cat in the hat.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBo Welch
Screenplay by
Based onThe Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss
Produced byBrian Grazer
Starring
CinematographyEmmanuel Lubezki
Edited byDon Zimmerman
Music byDavid Newman
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • November 21, 2003 (2003-11-21) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$109 million[2]
Box office$133.9 million[2]

The Cat in the Hat (also known as Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat) is a 2003 American fantasy comedy film directed by Bo Welch in his directorial debut and written by Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer. Loosely based on Dr. Seuss's 1957 book of the same name, it was the second and final live-action feature-length Dr. Seuss adaptation after How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). The film stars Mike Myers in the title role with Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Amy Hill and Sean Hayes in supporting roles.

Production on the film began in 1997 with Tim Allen originally cast in the title role. After Allen dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with The Santa Clause 2, the role went to Myers. Filming took place in California and lasted three months from late 2002 to early 2003. As with the previous Dr. Seuss adaptation, many new characters and subplots were added to the story to bring it up to feature-length.

Released in theaters on November 21, 2003 in the United States by Universal Pictures and internationally by DreamWorks Pictures, the film grossed $133.9 million against a budget of $109 million[2] and was panned by critics.[3] Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, was also critical of the film and decided not to allow any further live-action adaptations of her husband's works, resulting in the cancellation of a sequel based on The Cat in the Hat Comes Back; all Dr. Seuss film adaptations have since been produced using computer animation.[4][3]

In March 2012, an animated remake was announced by Universal and Illumination but never came to fruition. In 2018, Warner Bros. Pictures via Warner Animation Group announced an animated reboot was again in development.[5][6]

Plot

Conrad and Sally Walden live in Anville with their single mother Joan, who works for neat-freak Hank Humberfloob as a real estate agent and is dating their next-door neighbor Larry Quinn. One day, Joan leaves her children at home with lethargic babysitter Mrs. Kwan while she goes to the office, forbidding them to enter the living room which is being kept pristine for an office party she is hosting that night.

After Mrs. Kwan falls asleep, Sally and Conrad meet The Cat in the Hat, an anthropomorphic talking cat with a red-and-white striped top hat and a large red bow tie who wants to teach them how to have fun but the family's pet fish does not want the Cat around while Joan is away. In the process, the Cat leaves a trail of destruction throughout the house (such as jumping on the living room couch, baking cupcakes that explode, and ruining Joan's dress by cleaning the wall with it) and releases two troublemakers, named Thing 1 and Thing 2, from a crate which he locks and forbids Conrad to tamper with, explaining that it is a portal to his world. He tells the Things to clean Joan's dress but they instead trash the house as they always do the opposite of what they are told. Despite the Cat's warning, Conrad picks the lock on the crate, which grabs on to the collar of the family's dog Nevins, who the Things throw out the window. While they search for Nevins, the trio find themselves at a birthday party for Sally's former friend Denise. The Cat attempts to hide by posing as a piñata and is subsequently beaten by the kids.

Meanwhile, Larry is revealed to be an unemployed slob who is in debt, and also a con artist posing as a successful businessman in order to marry Joan for her money. He plans to get rid of Conrad by sending him to military school. While the trio spy on Nevins, they see Larry kidnapping him which prompts them to follow him into the city with the Cat's super-powered car. Upon discovering Larry going into Joan's office, the Cat tricks him into giving them Nevins and they escape. Larry attempts chase but loses them at a party. When they see Larry anxiously riding with Joan, Conrad has the Things stall them by posing as police officers so they can get home first. Despite being held up, Larry witnesses the trio drive past in his car and races after them on the Things' police motorcycle.

When the trio return to the house with the lock, Larry cuts them off and orders them inside the house, where he sneezes uncontrollably due to his allergy to the Cat, who takes the advantage and scares him away, only for them to find out that the house has been transformed into "The Mother of All Messes", with Larry falling into a gooey abyss within the Cat's world. The trio ride on Mrs. Kwan and navigate through the surreal house to find the crate and lock it, whereupon the house returns to its normal proportions but immediately collapses. In a heated argument, the kids discover that the Cat planned the whole day and order him to leave.

Conrad resigns himself to facing the consequences when Joan comes home with Sally sharing the blame, but the Cat returns with a cleaning invention and fixes the house. Conrad and Sally reconcile with the Cat and thank him for everything, and he departs just as Joan arrives. Larry, covered in goo, comes in, thinking he has busted the kids, but when Joan sees the clean house, she does not believe his story and dumps him, which results in his plans being blown up in his face, much to his humiliation and dismay. After the successful party, Joan spends quality time with her kids by jumping on the couch with them, while the Cat and Things 1 and 2 walk off into the sunset.

Cast

Production

Development

DreamWorks Pictures acquired the film rights to the original Dr. Seuss book in 1997.[7] However, production did not officially start until after the 2000 Christmas/comedy film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, both of whom also join to finance, distribute and produce the film with DreamWorks, and based on another Dr. Seuss book of the same name, became a commercial success. Brian Grazer, the producer of The Grinch, stated: "Because we grew up with these books, and because they have such universal themes and the illustrations ignite such fantasy in your mind as a child—the aggregation of all those feelings—it leaves an indelible, positive memory. And so when I realized I had a chance to convert first The Grinch and then, The Cat in the Hat, into movies, I was willing to do anything to bring them to the screen."[8] Grazer then contacted Bo Welch over the phone with the offer to direct the film, and he accepted.[9] When production began, songs written by Randy Newman were dropped because they were deemed inferior; Newman's cousin, David, instead composed the score for the film. Although Welch and a publicist for Myers denied it, several people said Myers had considerable input into the film's direction by telling some of the cast (namely co-stars Baldwin and Preston) how to perform their scenes.[10]

Casting

Tim Allen was initially considered for the role of the Cat. The script was initially based on a version of the original book's story conceived by Allen, who admitted that as a child he was afraid of Seuss' "mischievous feline babysitter"; "My dream is to give it the edge that scared me," stated Allen.[11] However, the studio did not commission a screenplay until late February 2001, when Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer (best known for being writers on the television series Seinfeld) were hired by the studio to rewrite the film (replacing the original draft of the film that was written by Eric Roth a few years prior),[12] so the film would not be ready to shoot before the deadline. By this point, Allen was also committed to shooting Disney's The Santa Clause 2, which was also delayed because Allen wanted a script rewrite.[13] Due to scheduling conflicts with that film,[14] he dropped out of the role.[15] As a result, in March 2002 the role of the Cat was given to Mike Myers,[16] whom Grazer had an argument with regarding a proposed film adaptation of Myers' Saturday Night Live sketch Sprockets, which Myers cancelled in June 2000 after being dissatisfied with his own script for it.[17] Myers stated in an interview that he was a long-time fan of the original Dr. Seuss book, and that it was the first book he ever read.[18] Myers was obligated to appear in the film as a result of a settlement related to the Sprockets film's cancellation.[19][20]

Makeup and visual effects

Originally, Rick Baker was set to be the prosthetic makeup designer for the film after his previous experience with How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but due to conflicts with the studio and production team, particularly with Myers' behavior (showing up late to meetings and refusing to come to makeup tests punctually) and the complex challenge of designing the character’s makeup, he left the project and was replaced by Steve Johnson, one of his earliest apprentices. The Cat costume was made of angora and human hair and was fitted with a cooling system. To keep Myers cool during the outdoor shoots, a portable air conditioner was available that connected a hose to the suit between shots, while the tail and ears were battery-operated.[21][better source needed] Danielle Chuchran and Brittany Oaks, who portrayed Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively, wore a prosthetic face mask and wig designed by Johnson as well. The Fish was considered somewhat of a unique character for Rhythm and Hues Studios (responsible for the visual effects and animation in films such as Mouse Hunt, Cats & Dogs, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Scooby-Doo), in that the character had no shoulders, hips or legs, so all of the physical performance had to emit from the eyes, head and fin motion. Sean Hayes, who provided the voice for the Fish, found the role significantly different from his usual on-camera jobs; he did not know how the final animation would look, resulting in all of his voice work taking place alone in a sound booth.[22]

Filming

Prior to filming, giant props for the film were stolen from the set; the local police found the props vandalized with graffiti in a shopping mall car park in Pomona, California. Despite this, no arrests had been made and filming was to start the next week.[23] Principal photography took place mostly in California from October 2002 to January 2003. The neighborhood and the town center was filmed in a rural valley near Simi Valley, where 24 houses (each 26 feet square and 52 feet tall) were constructed.[24] The downtown area outdoor shots were filmed along a Pomona street where a number of antique and gift shops are located. The community decided not to redecorate after filming ended, so the surreal paint scheme and some of the signage could still be seen today as it appears in the film. Because of so much smog in the area, the sky had to be digitally replaced with the cartoon-like sky and colors of the background had to be digitally fixed. Mike Myers was unaware that a piece of the house would fall behind him near the end of the film during his scenes with Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning. His reaction was real and left unscripted in the final film.[25]

According to co-star Amy Hill, Myers was difficult to work with on set, refusing to talk to anyone on the production (other than his assistants and director Welch) and isolating himself from the cast and crew during breaks in filming. She also noted that there would be retakes of scenes because Welch, who was a first-time director, let Myers decide whether they were good enough or not. In addition, Hill stated that Myers had an assistant who held chocolates in a Tupperware, and whenever Myers needed a piece of chocolate, his assistant would come over and give him one.[26]

Music

Grazer's frequent collaborator, David Newman scored the film, The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2003.[27] Originally, Marc Shaiman was going to compose the score for the film, but due to Newman already being chosen for the film score, Shaiman instead wrote the film's songs with Scott Wittman. The soundtrack also features a song by Smash Mouth ("Getting Better"), which makes it the third Mike Myers-starring film in a row to feature a song by Smash Mouth after Shrek and Austin Powers in Goldmember. The trailer for the film uses a version of "Hey! Pachuco!" by the Royal Crown Revue. The soundtrack also includes two songs performed by Myers, who plays the Cat. Newman's score won a BMI Film Music Award.

All music is composed by David Newman, except as noted.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Main Title - the Kids" 8:07
2."Getting Better" (Smash Mouth)Lennon–McCartney2:24
3."The Cat" 3:50
4."Two Things - Couch Jumping - Leaky Crate" 5:16
5."Military Academy Seduction" 3:02
6.Untitled 2:12
7."Surfer Cat - the Phunometer" 2:22
8."Fun, Fun, Fun" (Mike Myers)Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman2:38
9."The Contract" 1:53
10."Oven Explodes - "Clean Up This Mess!"" 1:36
11."Things Wreck the House" 2:52
12."Larry the Slob" 3:10
13."Birthday Party" 2:11
14."S.L.O.W. Drive" 2:32
15."Rescuing Nevens" 4:27
16."Clean Up" (Mike Myers)Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman0:24
Total length:48:55

Release

Home media

The Cat in the Hat was released on VHS and DVD on March 16, 2004.[28] The DVD features 13 deleted scenes, 36 outtakes, 13 featurettes, a "Dance with the Cat" tutorial to teach children how to do a Cat in the Hat dance, and an audio commentary with director Bo Welch and actor Alec Baldwin.[29] On February 7, 2012, the film was released on Blu-ray.[30]

Reception

Box office

The Cat in the Hat opened theatrically on November 21, 2003 and grossed $38.3 million in its opening weekend, ranking first in the North American box office ahead of Brother Bear, Elf and Looney Tunes: Back in Action.[31] The film ended its theatrical run on March 18, 2004, having grossed $101.1 million domestically and $32.8 million overseas for a worldwide total of $133.9 million.[2]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 10% based on 164 reviews and an average rating of 3.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Filled with double entendres and potty humor, this Cat falls flat."[32] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 19 out of 100 based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[33] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[34]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film one star, stating: "Cat, another overblown Hollywood raid on Dr. Seuss, has a draw on Mike Myers, who inexplicably plays the Cat by mimicking Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz." Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two out of four stars. Although he praised the production design, he considered the film to be "all effects and stunts and CGI and prosthetics, with no room for lightness and joy".[35] Ebert and co-host Richard Roeper gave the film "Two Thumbs Down" on their weekly movie review program.[36] Roeper said of Myers' performance that "maybe a part of him was realizing as the movie was being made that a live-action version of The Cat in the Hat just wasn't a great idea."[36] Ebert compared the film unfavorably to How the Grinch Stole Christmas: "If there is one thing I've learned from these two movies, it's that we don't want to see Jim Carrey as a Grinch, and we don't want to see Mike Myers as a cat. These are talented comedians, let's see them do their stuff, don't bury them under a ton of technology."[36]

Leonard Maltin gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four in his Movie Guide: "Brightly colored adaptation of the beloved rhyming book for young children is a betrayal of everything Dr. Seuss ever stood for, injecting potty humor and adult (wink-wink) jokes into a mixture of heavy-handed slapstick and silliness." Maltin also said that the film's official title which included Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat was "an official insult".[37]

Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the film as "attractively designed, energetically performed and, above all, blessedly concise."[38]

Alec Baldwin was disappointed with the film and addressed complaints the film received because of its dissimilarity to the source material. He expressed a belief that a film is "an idea about something" and that because Dr. Seuss' work is so unique, making a feature-length film out of one of his stories would entail taking liberties and making broad interpretations.[39]

Accolades

Award Subject Nominee Result
BMI Film Awards Best Music David Newman Won
DFWFCA Awards Worst Film Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actor Mike Myers Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actor of the Decade Nominated
Worst Actor Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Alec Baldwin Nominated
Worst Supporting Actress Kelly Preston Nominated
Worst Picture Nominated
Worst Director Bo Welch Nominated
Worst Screenplay Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, based on the book by Dr. Seuss Nominated
Worst Screen Couple Mike Myers and either Thing One or Thing Two Nominated
Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (All Concept/No Content) Won
Worst "Comedy" of Our First 25 Years Nominated
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards[40] Worst Picture Won
Worst Director Bo Welch Nominated
Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More Than $100 Million Worldwide Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, based on the book by Dr. Seuss Won
Worst Actor Mike Myers Nominated
Worst Fake Accent - Male Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Alec Baldwin Nominated
Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy Nominated
Worst Song "Fun, Fun, Fun"; music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman Nominated
Most Annoying Non-Human Character Cat in the Hat Won
Thing One and Thing Two (voices by Dan Castellaneta) Nominated
The Spencer Breslin Award (Worst Performance by a Child Actor) Spencer Breslin Won
Dakota Fanning Nominated

The film also received three nominations at the Hollywood Makeup & Hairstylists Guild Awards.[41]

Future

Cancelled sequel

On the day of the film's release, Myers stated in an interview that he expected a sequel where the kids meet the Cat again. A sequel based on the original book's sequel The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was in development just over a month before the film's release, with Myers and Welch to return to their duties as actor and director, respectively.[42] Following the film's poor reception however, Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, decided to disallow any subsequent live-action adaptations of her late husband's works to be produced, as a result of which the sequel was eventually scrapped.[3][4][43]

Animated reboot

In March 2012, a computer-animated Cat in the Hat film remake was announced by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment following the success of The Lorax, with Rob Lieber set to write the script, Chris Meledandri to produce the film and Geisel to executive-produce it, but it never came to fruition.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50] On January 24, 2018 it was announced that Warner Animation Group picked up the rights for the animated Cat in the Hat film as part of a creative partnership with Seuss Enterprises.[51][6]

Video game

Main article: The Cat in the Hat (video game)

A platform game based on the film was published by Vivendi Universal Games for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance on November 5, 2003, and Microsoft Windows on November 9, 2003, shortly before the film's theatrical release.[52][53]

See also

References

  1. ^ "THE CAT IN THE HAT (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. November 27, 2003. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "The Cat in the Hat (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Ivie, Devon (October 26, 2016). "Mike Myers Was a Huge 'Diva' While Filming The Cat in the Hat". Vulture. It was so widely panned that Dr. Seuss's widow banned any other live-action adaptations.
  4. ^ a b "Seussentenial: 100 years of Dr. Seuss". TODAY.com. Retrieved December 13, 2020 – via Associated Press. Geisel says she will never again allow Hollywood to portray Seuss characters in live action.
  5. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 24, 2018). "'Cat in the Hat' Movie in Works From Warner Bros., Dr. Seuss Enterprises". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Milligan, Mercedes (November 11, 2021). "Jon M. Chu Tapped to Direct Dr. Seuss's 'Oh, the Places You'll Go!'". Animation Magazine.
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  8. ^ "THE CAT IN THE HAT - Production Notes". p. 1. Archived from the original on December 9, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  9. ^ Welch, Bo. (2004). Commentary for The Cat in the Hat [DVD]. Universal Pictures.
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  13. ^ Susman, Gary (April 26, 2001). "The strike: a film-goer's guide". The Guardian. London. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  14. ^ Keck, William (March 8, 2002). "'The Cat' Came Back". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  15. ^ Rebecca Ascher-Walsh (November 16, 2001). "Tim Allen drops out of Cat in the Hat". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
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  17. ^ Keck, William (March 15, 2002). "Hello Kitty". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
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  19. ^ "Myers, studio settle `Dieter' lawsuit - Chicago Sun-Times | HighBeam Research". web.archive.org. May 5, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
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  27. ^ "The Cat in the Hat [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - David Newman | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
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  33. ^ "The Cat in the Hat". Metacritic.
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  41. ^ "Hollywood Makeup & Hairstylists Guild Precursor - Cinema Sight". www.cinemasight.com.
  42. ^ Kirschillng, Gregory (October 3, 2003). "The Deal Report". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
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  44. ^ Fleming, Mike (March 15, 2012). "Dr. Seuss' 'The Cat In The Hat' Get Another Life At Chris Meledandri's Illumination". Deadline. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
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  51. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 24, 2018). "'Cat in the Hat' Movie in Works From Warner Bros., Dr. Seuss Enterprises". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
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  53. ^ Hwang, Kaiser (February 6, 2004). "The Cat in the Hat". IGN. Retrieved December 8, 2013.