A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie isn't for the kids who are reading the book -- in its quest for a commercially-rewarding PG rating it has aged itself out of the youngest audience. It's not right for your 5- or 6-year-old. There is surprisingly rude and crude humor including double entendres and almost-swearing, potty humor, and other bodily function jokes. The Cat picks up a muddy garden implement and refers to it as "a dirty hoe" and spells out the s-word. The Cat is hit in the crotch. There's a lot of comic peril that may be too intense for younger children. An adult character drinks beer.
What's the story?
Based on the classic Dr. Seuss story, this live-action film stars Mike Myers as the mischievous Cat. Meyers' interpretation of the Cat seems to be a master of vaudevillian shtick with a few of the voices from The Wizard of Oz and a sort of demented Mary Poppins thrown in for what turns out to be very good measure. Here, the Cat is an "I'm here to teach you a lesson," sort of guy to his two young friends. Conrad (Spencer Breslin) must learn to follow the rules and Sally (Dakota Fanning) has to learn to loosen up and not be so bossy. And they have to learn to appreciate one another. Also new to the film, a neighbor (Alec Baldwin) schemes to marry the kids' mother and have Conrad sent to a military boarding school. Meanwhile, the Cat creates absolute chaos and the kids react with a mixture of horror and delight in seeing things like that "don't you touch anything" living room covered in splotches of purple goo. Jellybean-colored sets (and Mom's just-dry-cleaned dress) are cheerfully destroyed along with, Mom's rules, some of the kids' ideas about themselves, and the laws of physics.
Is it any good?
The great thing about the irrepressibly anarchic Cat in the Hat is that even Hollywood can't contain him. They can stretch out the story with filler that ranges from the superfluous to the distracting and once in a while reaches the level of oh-no-not-that-again. But every time the Cat takes over, it is entertaining. Meyers' energy and audacity -- and his astonishingly animated expressions under all that fur -- keep the movie on track. This is important because very little of what is added to the story is worth the effort.
The mom-neighbor subplot isn't very original or interesting, but fortunately it does not take too much time away from the real story, which is the undeniable pleasure of watching the Cat destroy and create chaos in the perfect house. That's what keeps this movie working. We get both the fun of imagining all of that and the satisfaction of a happy ending. And Meyers is simply a hoot to watch, with able support from the kids (especially Fanning) and the fish (voice of Sean Hayes).
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: November 21, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: March 16, 2004
- Cast: Alec Baldwin, Dakota Fanning, Kelly Preston, Mike Myers
- Director: Bo Welch
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book characters
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild crude humor and some double-entendres
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.