The hilarious Mike Meyers, who made eye-candy out of those Austin Powers movies, would seem a natural choice to bring Dr. Seuss's wonderful pearls of wit to life on the big screen. But sadly, this Cat in the Hat is lame, I do not know who is to blame, but it's a bore just the same.
Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and Sally (Dakota Fanning) live with their single mom (Kelly Preston) who must balance her family and career. When Mom has to host the work group at her house, she is forewarned by her boss, Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes,) that her house better not be as messy as it was the time before. Mom hurries home to tidy up, but then gets a call to return to work immediately. So Mom brings in Mrs. Kwan (Amy Hill) to babysit and warns Conrad and Sally, "Not to step one foot into the clean living room."
Mrs. Kwan immediately falls into a sound sleep. Conrad and Sally are brooding by the window watching the rain, when all of a sudden a giant Cat in the Hat (Myers) appears. He spends the day with Conrad and Sally, splashing paint all over the living room, breaking the dishes, destroying mom's treats for her group and literally wrecking the house. Some moments are funny, most are not. The visual sets and costumes look adorable, although somewhat overdone. And the chaotic plot, with little focus, comes off like a piece of cake taken along on a roller coaster ride -- sweet but too scattered to eat.
Casting, for the most part, is fine. Kelly Preston appears just right as the frenzied mom; the enchanting Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam) always plays her roles to perfection; Spencer Breslin and Amy Hill are great; and Alec Baldwin amusingly portrays the obnoxious neighbor next door (not a part of the Seuss books) who hates the kids but wants to date mom.
Producer Brian Grazer and his team were entrusted by the Suess estate to take How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the big screen. The result? The Grinch -- a fun, witty, and overall magical production. That's probably why Grazer received the go-ahead for The Cat in the Hat. But the two films are worlds apart in enjoyment. Add in sexual innuendos aimed at the adult audience -- which so many of the kiddie films are doing these days -- that clearly do not work, and I ended up looking for a cat to pet, not for one in a hat.
(Released by Universal and rated "PG" for mild crude humor and some double entendres.)