The new, obligatory post- Grinch movie version of The Cat in the Hat comes scarily close to being the most unendurable Hollywood creation of the last dozen years. Of course, the Seuss original was a compact treatise on prepubescent id run amok and the attending dread of parental wrath, but snake-oil-selling producer Brian Grazer hyper-extends it into a Gogurt splooge of competing plot motivations, the ugliest design work since, well, The Grinch, and a free-associating Mike Myers done up as a kind of Dr. Moreau bastard spawn of Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion and Charles Nelson Reilly. The jokes, even the shit-dick-puke-balls bits aimed at titillating teens, are mortifyingly witless; the Things (1 and 2) look like face-lift-stretched actress heads on children's bodies; the story aches with preachifying (and distinctly un-Seussian) sanctimony.
The spectacle of Alec Baldwin's fully committed performance as a neighborhood sleazebag on the make for the protagonists' mom evokes only sympathy—although, it's probably he who should pity us. Someone should have to answer, at any rate, for the level of reeking innuendo (mom's portrait opening into a Playboy centerfold, erecting the Cat's penile hat, for instance) that converts an American childhood totem—one that initiated more reading habits than any other book of the 20th century—into a feebleminded leer.
You could read the film's two lonely moments of self-knowledge—when the Cat explicitly plugs Universal Studios' theme park and the film's own soundtrack—as salient irony, but amid this vomit they seem simply desperate. Thanks to Grazer's evil-genius demographic scheme, The Cat in the Hat isn't fit for preteens, and it isn't digestible to adults. Teens, it needn't be said, should have better things—drugs, humping, Matrix sequels—with which to squander their weekends.
DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT WAS DIRECTED BY BO WELCH; WRITTEN BY ALEC BERG, JEFF SCHAFFER, DAVID MANDEL AND DR. SEUSS; AND STARS MIKE MYERS, SPENCER BRESLIN AND DAKOTA FANNING. NOW PLAYING COUNTYWIDE.
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