The Cat in the Hat
A cat and fish facing forwards
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)
Running time
82 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$109 million[4]
Box office$133.9 million[4]

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 along 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 (2002), the role went to Myers. Filming took place in California and lasted three months from October 2002 to January 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.

The Cat in the Hat was released in theaters on November 21, 2003 in the United States by Universal Pictures and internationally by DreamWorks Pictures. It received negative reviews from critics and grossed $133.9 million against a budget of $109 million.[4] Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, was dissatisfied with the film and prohibited 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.[5][6]

In March 2012, an animated remake was announced by Universal and Illumination, but never came to fruition. As of January 2018, that remake is once again in development, now at Warner Bros. Pictures Animation.[7]

Plot

Conrad and Sally Walden live in the city of 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. Sally is well-behaved and rule-obeying, while Conrad is a troublemaker. One day, Joan leaves her children at home with 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 and it starts to rain, a bump comes from the closet. Sally and Conrad go upstairs to investigate, and they meet The Cat in the Hat, a large anthropomorphic talking cat with a red-and-white striped top hat and a large red bow tie. They scream, run and try to hide, but The Cat quickly comes to them as he introduces himself and wants to teach them how to have fun. In the process, the Cat leaves a trail of destruction throughout the house and releases two troublemakers, named Thing 1 and Thing 2, from a crate which he locks and forbids the children to tamper with, explaining that it is a portal to his world. Despite the Cat's warning, Conrad picks the lock on the crate, which grabs on to the collar of the family dog Nevins, who runs off. The trio drive the Cat's super-powered car to search for Nevins and get the lock back.

Larry is revealed to be an unemployed slob in debt, pretending to be a successful businessman to marry Joan for her money. He wants to get Conrad out of the way by sending him to military school. Larry sees Nevins and takes him, but the Cat tricks Larry into returning the dog. Larry goes and tells Joan about the Cat, but they are stalled by the Things' posing as police officers. Larry tells Joan to meet him at the house.

When the children and the Cat 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 advantage of this 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. The Cat, Sally and Conrad ride on Mrs. Kwan like a roller coaster and navigate through the surreal house on a river of goo to find the crate and lock it, whereupon the house returns to its normal proportions but immediately collapses. In a heated argument, the children discover that the Cat planned the whole day and order him to leave.

Conrad and Sally prepare to face the consequences when Joan comes home. However, when all appears to be lost, 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 children, but when Joan sees the clean house, she does not believe his story and breaks up with him. After the successful party, Joan spends quality time with her children 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 originally acquired the film rights to the original Dr. Seuss book in 1997.[8] However, production did not officially start until after the 2000 Christmas/comedy film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, produced and distributed by Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment, both of whom also joined 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."[9] Grazer then contacted Bo Welch over the phone with the offer to direct the film, and he accepted.[10] 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.[11]

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" and it was his dream to give the edge that scared him for the role.[12] 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),[13] 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.[14] Due to scheduling conflicts with that film,[15] he dropped out of the role. Afterwards, Will Ferrell, Robin Williams and Billy Bob Thornton were considered for the role.[16] Eventually, in March 2002 the role of the Cat was given to Mike Myers,[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] Myers was obligated to appear in the film as a result of a settlement related to the Sprockets film's cancellation.[20][21] Soon after, Myers, Dave Foley, Jay Kogen and Stephen Hibbert did uncredited rewrites of the script.[citation needed] Peri Gilpin was originally attached to play Joan Walden, but was unable to do so due to scheduling conflicts with Frasier.[22]

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.[23][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.[24]

Filming

Before 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. No arrests were made.[25] 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.[26] 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 can 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.[27]

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, would often 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.[28]

Music

Grazer's frequent collaborator, David Newman scored the film, The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2003.[29] 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."Mrs. Kwan - Mom Leaves" 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.[30] The DVD release 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.[31] On February 7, 2012, the film was released on Blu-ray.[32]

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.[33] The film ended its theatrical run nearly four months later on March 18, 2004, having grossed $101.1 million domestically and $32.8 million overseas for a worldwide total of $133.9 million.[4]

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."[34] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 19 out of 100 based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[35] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[36]

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".[37] Ebert and co-host Richard Roeper gave the film "Two Thumbs Down" on their weekly movie review program.[38] 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."[38] 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."[38]

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".[39]

Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the film as "attractively designed, energetically performed and, above all, blessedly concise."[40]

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.[41]

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[42] 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.[43]

Future

Cancelled sequel

On the day of the film's release, Mike Myers stated in an interview that he expected a sequel where the children 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.[44] However, following the film's poor reception, Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, decided not to allow any subsequent live-action adaptations of Seuss's works, resulting in the sequel being scrapped.[6][5][45]

Animated remake

In March 2012, an 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.[46][47][48][49]

In January 2018, Warner Animation Group picked up the rights for the animated Cat in the Hat film as part of a creative partnership with Seuss Enterprises.[50][51] In October 2020, Erica Rivinoja and Art Hernandez were announced as directors.[52] In June 2023, Hernandez was replaced as director by Alessandro Carloni.[53]

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, shortly before the film's theatrical release. The game received mixed reviews from critics. [54][55]

See also

References

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  2. ^ "The Cat in the Hat".
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  4. ^ a b c d "The Cat in the Hat (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
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  6. ^ a b 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.
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  53. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 9, 2023). "New Warner Bros Pictures Animation Boss Bill Damaschke On Group Rebrand, New Mission, 'Flintstones' Pic & More". Deadline. Retrieved February 13, 2024.
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