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This is a thread about the godawful Cat in the Hat movie.
November 21, 2003 10:40 AM   Subscribe

"If the producers had dug up Ted Geisel's body and hung it from a tree, they couldn't have desecrated the man more," suggests the Boston Globe's Ty Burr, and he's not alone. Do I need to actually go see this stinkbomb in order to trash it? Or will other parents stand with me to assure this guaranteed first-weekend blockbuster has the biggest second-weekend drop ever?
posted by soyjoy (110 comments total)

 
A few other assessments, to keep the front page nice 'n' neat...


may be the most frantic, shrill, screechy, nerve-jangling piece of children's entertainment ever made.


like being run over by a garbage truck that backs up and dumps its load on top of you. It's a sloppy and vulgar burlesque, one of the most repulsive kiddie movies ever made.


Offensive 'Cat' an easy choice for year's worst film.


The Cat in the Hat isn't just crude, stupid and unfunny -- it's also mean-spirited and hateful.


Shrill, boorish and witless...crass and cluttered...irritating and unamusing


the "Gigli" of Dr. Seuss movies


I would not see it with a friend.
I could not stand it to the end.


Yet another attempt to cash in on Dr. Seuss’ verse,
it’s like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, except much, much worse.


I realize this is sort of a Pepsi-anti-Blue post (Pepsi Orange?), but I think the level of awfulness achieved against such a treasured cultural icon makes this MeFi-worthy, and I'd hate to hear anyone later say "but I just didn't know it could possibly stink so much!"
posted by soyjoy at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2003


It would have been helpful to put what you are talking about IN THE POST!
posted by xmutex at 10:45 AM on November 21, 2003


It scored a whooping 17 on metacritic.
posted by muckster at 10:51 AM on November 21, 2003


I've given in to the Wiggles, to Thomas the Tank Engine, even Finding Nemo now has a home in my video collection, but the pre-release stink of this flick -- measured in direct proportion to the amount of product placements culttering up grocery store shelves, morning talk shows, fast food joints -- is enough to make me draw the line. Well, that and my abiding belief that no great work (however brief, as "Cat in the Hat" is) is above being totally ruined by focus groups and grown ups.
posted by chandy72 at 10:51 AM on November 21, 2003


Gonna self-link here, but it's appropriate. This stinker of a film is buoyed by an unbeleivable marketing/merchandising campaign by Universal, in just a few days of snooping around online, I found over 300 items claiming to be Official Cat in the Hat Movie Merchandise - from Nutcrackers to valances, Bubble Gum to Thong underwear and more.
posted by kokogiak at 10:54 AM on November 21, 2003


yeah, I was just looking at the rotten tomatoes ratings. Sure it sucks, but my kid reeeeeeeally wants to see it. Can't they just speed up the release of the Wallace and Gromit movie or something? Polar Express? Hello?
posted by whatnot at 10:54 AM on November 21, 2003


As if the seemingly endless amoung of commercial tie-ins for this movie weren't enough to keep me from seeing it. If any of you watch TV (never!), I'm sure you've seen endless Cat in the Hat-themed Lay's Stax, Swiffer, and Radio Shack ads. Even the US Postal Service (pdf) is in on the act..

Let's hope this movie does as poorly as the last absurdly tied-in "blockbuster" - the
Hulk movie.

(on preview, looks like kokogiak beat me to his own site...)
posted by zsazsa at 10:55 AM on November 21, 2003


It's an abomination, I can tell from the commercials, it's all wrong wrong wrong. Like the live-action Grinch movie with *twitch* Jim Carrey, I insist that this alleged Cat in the Hat movie was never made.
posted by biscotti at 10:55 AM on November 21, 2003


pardon the broken html...
posted by zsazsa at 10:56 AM on November 21, 2003


Can't someone stop them from doing this to the books? That grinch movie was awful, and from the commercials I can tell too how bad this one is. Where's the widow? Who owns the rights?
posted by amberglow at 11:01 AM on November 21, 2003


xmutex, look up. I put that there just for you. (and hama7.)

whatnot, you're not seriously saying you're going to take a child to see this, are you? Please tell me it was all a joke. As one of the reviews said (can't remember if it was in one of the ones I linked), staying home and reading is a better alternative. "Staring at the wall is better than this."
posted by soyjoy at 11:04 AM on November 21, 2003


it's mike myers, backed by the hollywood mesmerization machine, and you were expecting high art? give me the names of ten upcoming films and i'll accurately predict nine of them to be total shit. the tenth might have some amusing credits or something. you too can learn this valuable skill and amaze your friends! but you'll have to quit gobbling the bait.
posted by quonsar at 11:10 AM on November 21, 2003


The most annoying thing is that while Dr. Suess was alive, he (almost Bill Watterson like) didn't merchandise the characters, after his death we've been deluged with the toys and spin-offs.
posted by drezdn at 11:13 AM on November 21, 2003


amberglow - this movie, and before it, the Grinch Movie were both approved by Audrey Geisel, the widow of Theodore. It does not appear that she's being as good a steward of his works as he might have liked.
posted by kokogiak at 11:13 AM on November 21, 2003


The trailer alone makes me cringe
posted by TedW at 11:14 AM on November 21, 2003


whatnot, you're not seriously saying you're going to take a child to see this

I know! We are already trying to formulate an alternative. We hardly ever go to the movies, though, and he rarely asks for a specific one. We are doomed, I tell ya.
posted by whatnot at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2003


The sad thing isn't that big corporations can come along and butcher these children's classics...

It's that because of hollywood's bought-and-paid-for copyright laws will prevent this coming into the public domain in anyone's currentl lifetime to make their own inspired rendition of it.

I say, let hollywood have a go at it, but let everyone else compete for the best adaptation as well. Won't happen now that the 'public domain' has been stolen from the public.
posted by PigAlien at 11:19 AM on November 21, 2003


whatnot, tell your kid to get some fucking taste.
posted by xmutex at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2003


From Dr. Seuss' bio at amazon:

In 1993, Dr. Seuss's widow, Audrey Stone Geisel, established Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) to protect the integrity and quality of Seuss's characters through trademark usage. Recently, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced the opening of a new licensing and marketing office to further protect the relationship consumers have with Dr. Seuss characters. Together with DSE's new licensing office and the ICM agency, Mrs. Geisel has allowed only a handful of carefully selected projects to be produced.

Ha!
posted by birdsong at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2003


If any of you watch TV (never!), I'm sure you've seen endless Cat in the Hat-themed Lay's Stax, Swiffer, and Radio Shack ads. Even the US Postal Service (pdf) is in on the act..

The ads in the post office have been pissing me off for about a month and a half, and they're not going to be gone until after Christmas. Waiting in line sucks more than enough without a cardboard standee of Myers doing his schtick, and on top of that, all the other ads in the place have Cat in the Hat crap on them, too. And all done in creaky rhyme, to add insult to injury. I can hardly wait for this horrible movie to die, already.
posted by vorfeed at 11:22 AM on November 21, 2003


I wish Geisel could divorce his wife from beyond the grave so she couldn't keep giving the thumbs-up to this crap. I don't care if she's donating every penny to starving orphans and we're actually saving lives, the raping of one man's work isn't worth it.
posted by mikeh at 11:23 AM on November 21, 2003


There's no reason to get riled about it. Who remembers (let alone watches) the remakes of Planet of the Apes, Psycho, or Miracle on 34th Street? If it's crap, it will quickly fade, and in another generation someone else might get it right (think Lord of the Rings).
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:27 AM on November 21, 2003


Will the Cat in the Hat movie have anything as weird as Anthony Hopkins narrating it?

"I had Cindy Lou Who's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
posted by Captain_Tenille at 11:28 AM on November 21, 2003


quonsar, i'll take that challenge:

The Company
Osama
The Fog of War
The Legend of Leigh Bowery
My Flesh and Blood
The Statement
The Triplets of Belleville
The Butterfly
Japanese Story
Secret Things
posted by muckster at 11:28 AM on November 21, 2003


(oh, and from the Edge review:
"...just when you thought these filmmakers could not have miscalculated more stupidly, the famous, talentless Paris Hilton shows up for a three-second cameo."
There's a comment begging to be made from that, but I'll resist.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:32 AM on November 21, 2003


Just because you can doesn't mean that you should.

It's been said so many times, and yet no one listens. Did no one learn this lesson? ;)
posted by MsVader at 11:32 AM on November 21, 2003


Next holy children's book up for cinematic desecration: Where the Wild Things Are.

(But: hey, Spike Jonze is directing.)
posted by skryche at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2003


Will do, xmutex! With that kind of awesome parenting, maybe I can teach him to be as cool as you.
posted by whatnot at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2003


I really like the design of the movie and will be seeing it for the visuals alone, regardless of how crappy the story is. I hear the director designed the Edward Siccsorhands sets and this looks like that, but turned up a few notches. I can't wait to see this and Elf realsoonnow
posted by mathowie at 11:33 AM on November 21, 2003


Hey, Dr. Seuss was the inspiration for my MeFi name (from my longstanding claim that he was a better poet than Shakespeare because while good old Will could only write in iambic pentameter, Dr. S. could write equally effectively in both iambic tetrameter and anapestic tetrameter), and I'm not happy to see what they've done to his work here. This is the sort of cultural atrocity from which civilizations don't recover. It's hard to believe that the conservatives are whining about gay marriage when this sort of thing is going on.

Please don't take your kid to see this. Get the DVD of How the Grinch Stole Christmas instead. That's a project that Geisel actually worked on, and it makes full use of his poetry.
posted by anapestic at 11:35 AM on November 21, 2003


"...just when you thought these filmmakers could not have miscalculated more stupidly, the famous, talentless Paris Hilton shows up for a three-second cameo."
There's a comment begging to be made from that, but I'll resist.)


Yes, but everyone on the internet has already seen Paris' thing one and thing two and we weren't impressed.
posted by jonmc at 11:37 AM on November 21, 2003


kokogiak's link is amazing. It's good to know that the film version has a novelization, for those who would rather read than go to the movies.
posted by Prospero at 11:43 AM on November 21, 2003


In addition to refusing to watch this movie, I also refuse to read any review, positive or negative, which insists on critiquing it wholly in rhyme.

Such wholesale gimmickry is scarcely more sublime.

...Than Mike Myer's performance, that is.
posted by brownpau at 11:49 AM on November 21, 2003


Just found a Washington Post article from yesterday, venturing to guess that this movie has more corporate involvement/backing than any other film in history.
posted by kokogiak at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2003


I had a feeling this was going to be a fart-fest after I saw one tv ad for it. It had the Cat looking at a picture in a frame. He asks the kids "who's this" and they say "that's our mom". Meyers then makes a "hubba hubba" sound and his hat gets a hard-on. How is that a joke aimed at kids?

There are no kids movies any more, because kids don't have any money. The studios strive to make something that grown-ups will sit through (and pay for). If the kids clamor for it on DVD, that's a bonus.
posted by jpoulos at 11:54 AM on November 21, 2003


It's good to know that the film version has a novelization, for those who would rather read than go to the movies.

Oh my god, that's meta...meta...fucking horrible and hilarious at the same time.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:55 AM on November 21, 2003


maybe i'm just a wicked stepmother, but the "i really want [to see this movie] [watch this teevee show] [whatever]" has never moved me from the "no" when i have what purports to be a good reason to say no. sure, it's just a dumb movie, and maybe the kid will enjoy it, but i firmly believe in quality control, in addition to all those other parental controls.

(BTW mathowie, slate slags on the art direction: the colors, the camera work, you name it. says that it doesn't live up to the promise of his work with tim burton)
posted by crush-onastick at 11:57 AM on November 21, 2003


This movie would have stood a better chance had they kept the original blue/red/white/black color scheme. I would have given it points for style at the very least.
posted by archimago at 11:58 AM on November 21, 2003


hey muckster, I'm sure quonsar meant studio releases. Independent movies don't count, since they take more work to bring to theaters. People tend not to work hard for utter pieces of crap.

(For the purposes of this generalization, please ignore the cases of the Blair Witch Project and The Brown Bunny. Thank you.)
posted by graventy at 11:59 AM on November 21, 2003


good to know that the film version has a novelization

Strangely, people who shopped for it also shopped for catastrophe. Heh.
posted by rocketman at 12:00 PM on November 21, 2003


From the Post article kokogiak linked to:

Many marketing experts predict more corporate sponsorship of entertainment. Litvak, whose firm sponsors an annual conference at which film studios, television companies and music distributors pitch upcoming releases to corporations, said each side hopes to cash in on the other's strengths: "Entertainment brings an extra cachet to a brand's marketing campaign. It's part of pop culture and makes your brand more relevant in the consumers' eyes. So if you're Kellogg's, and the big thing is 'Cat in the Hat,' the existing consumer feels part of pop culture because they're eating the cool food; and if you're not already eating Kellogg's, something says maybe you should give it a try"

There's something very wrong with a culture that operates this way.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:04 PM on November 21, 2003


I've actually eaten some of the cereal. It's not bad if you like the sugary stuff. Plus, it's shaped like little hats.
posted by jonmc at 12:09 PM on November 21, 2003


Plus merchandising dosen't bother me that much. I mean, c'mon, you mean to tell me that none of you guys pestered your parents for Star Wars action figures or toy Lone Ranger masks?
posted by jonmc at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2003


Does anyone else think Thing 1 and Thing 2 look like burn victims?
posted by Cyrano at 12:13 PM on November 21, 2003


Will the Cat in the Hat movie have anything as weird as Anthony Hopkins narrating it?

Well, actually casting Boris Karlof as the narrator for How the Grinch Stole Christmass was yet another stroke of brilliance for Chuck Jones. I can see Hopkins doing it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:14 PM on November 21, 2003


It's not that I really mind the merchandising so much, it's just the incredible volume of goods that makes me raise my eyebrows. And the crassness of it all - I mean, not only is the Cat in the Hat Toothbrush Holder an implicit ad for the movie, it actually says right on every officially licensed product box "See the Movie" in big letters. And yes jonmc, I actually even have a couple of Star Wars trinkets on my desk as I type this ;)
posted by kokogiak at 12:22 PM on November 21, 2003


So if you're Kellogg's, and the big thing is 'Cat in the Hat,' the existing consumer feels part of pop culture because they're eating the cool food; and if you're not already eating Kellogg's, something says maybe you should give it a try"

That's funny. At the supermarket the other day I saw a grown woman run across the store to a display at the end of an aisle. "Oh my god!" she yelled to her friend. "Cat in the Hat CEREAL!"
posted by jpoulos at 12:25 PM on November 21, 2003


I really like the design of the movie

Really?? Just the commercial is enough to blind me.

I can't believe there's ANY market for this movie whatsoever.

...so it should make $100 million.
posted by rushmc at 12:28 PM on November 21, 2003


whatnot, tell your kid to get some f*****g taste

Damn X, you made me laugh outloud at the new job.


That's funny. At the supermarket the other day I saw a grown woman run across the store to a display at the end of an aisle. "Oh my god!" she yelled to her friend. "Cat in the Hat CEREAL!"

Now THAT, is truly sad. You should have picked up a box of it and beat her with it.
posted by a3matrix at 12:32 PM on November 21, 2003


As other folks have mentioned, everyone should do themselves (and their kids) a favor and rent the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Not only is it a wonderful collaboration artistically, it was a wonderful collaboration personally -- Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones were close friends and colleagues; they respected each other's work deeply, and it shows in every frame. The new Cat in the Hat seems about as diametrically opposed to that sense of respect and shared delight as is humanly possible -- an ugly film (visually, narratively, and performatively) of a beautiful creation. I imagine Dr. Suess rapidly rotating in his grave, trying to bore a hole all the way to Solla-Selew, where there aren't any bad adaptations, at least very few. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

As a side note: I was insanely lucky to know Chuck when I was growing up (he was one of my grandfather's best friends, and so was basically an honorary uncle to my sister and me -- we still have all the Bugs and Daffy sketches he'd send every year for our birthdays); because of the Grinch, I suppose, for several years when I was quite young, Dr. Suess and Chuck were melded in my mind as one Uber-Cartoonist-Storyteller of Pure Genius. The fact that Chuck used to joke that Dr. Seuss was actually his family doctor only added to the confusion.
posted by scody at 12:37 PM on November 21, 2003


My favorite bad review for this film is from The Dallas Observer:

Such a remarkable rift between its charming source material and its heinous cinematic realization that the producers may as well have skipped the hassle of securing licensing rights and simply called this mess Mike Myers: Asshole in Fur.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:42 PM on November 21, 2003


Hell, I admit that I exclaimed when I saw it on the shelf of the Astoria Key Food a month or so ago. And that was before I even knew about the movie coming out, which I agree looks shitty.

But c'mon, Cat In The Hat cereal is cool. Long live the ephemeral!!
posted by jonmc at 12:43 PM on November 21, 2003


I do not like Seuss much as a person anymore, so all the talk of how this would upset him makes it slightly more worth seeing all the stupid advertising EVERYWHERE.
posted by thirteen at 12:47 PM on November 21, 2003


Substitute "worth" with "bearable".
posted by thirteen at 12:49 PM on November 21, 2003


There's something very wrong with a culture that operates this way.

How can we tell? We're the first. It's impossible to draw parallels with cultures that have come before us.
posted by kindall at 12:50 PM on November 21, 2003


I'll probably rent it when it comes out on DVD.
posted by sharpener at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2003


Odd, this little perversion popped into my head the first time I saw the commercial: Fat cat in the hat may seem to dream of nice mike that suffice for him or scream (apologies to Tolkien and Geisel).
posted by piskycritter at 12:55 PM on November 21, 2003


Hey, I saw the cereal and ran towards it too.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:03 PM on November 21, 2003


We need more directors like Hayao Miyazaki and good children's movies like My Neighbor Tortoro.
posted by Espoo2 at 1:06 PM on November 21, 2003


I liked Elf.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:09 PM on November 21, 2003


By the way, if this movie makes a ton of money expect the following:

Horton Hears a Who featuring Jack Black

Adam sandler as Sam I Am in Green Eggs and Ham

Rob Schneider is The Lorax
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:16 PM on November 21, 2003


My Neighbor Totoro had that totally gratuitous product placement for caramel candy. God, what a lack of class.
posted by rocketman at 1:31 PM on November 21, 2003


As for Hollywood and their problems of taste, I find it ironic that the man who first coined FUBAR should become such a victim.
posted by ahimsakid at 1:34 PM on November 21, 2003


I liked Elf too. Zooey Deschanel sings well.
posted by riffola at 1:36 PM on November 21, 2003


An "entertainment news" site did a poll recently asking "What Dr. Seuss Book Would You Like to See Made into a Movie Next?", and the three choices were the three Joey Michaels noted above (though without the casting suggestions). Frankly, I don't think there is enough cocaine in Hollywood for writers and producers to stretch "Green Eggs and Ham" into 80 minutes...

And don't assume the Cat is going to ramrod its way through in spite of its gawdawful reviews: "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" is already a box office disappointment, and I personally think Bugs Bunny has a lot better chemistry with Brendan Fraser than Michael Jordan. (And "Looney" has a cereal too...)
posted by wendell at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2003


One of my favorite cracks (and this really has brought out the can-you-top-this spirit in movie reviewers) is this not-so-subtle jibe from Roger Ebert...

I had better not give away the ending; there may be unfortunate readers who have not read "The Cat in the Hat," or had it read to them, or even had it summarized for them by a trusted adviser.

And Matt, if I have any chance whatsoever of stopping you from pumping up the B.O. returns of these evildoers, let me note that most of the reviews (and I read more than a dozen of them) said the design started out looking really great but then devolved into plain old garish, hackneyed crap (paraphrasing). Also, one of them (I can't find it now) remarked on the "symmetry" of the backgrounds. SYMMETRY? Is that a word you've ever imagined being used in the same sentence as "Seuss?" Please Matt, be strong, and wait for the DVD.

on preview: wendell, I wish I could be cheered by the "disappointment" of Looney Tunes, but I don't buy it. This is gonna have a boffo first weekend. But if it drops off over 50% by the next (which is the weekend it's really targeting), it will be a laughingstock, and a warning to future grave-robbers.
posted by soyjoy at 1:57 PM on November 21, 2003


What could anyone expect from Myers anymore? He's just plain used up all the comedy he had and now has to revisit his old characters for laughs that are more piteous than real.

The trailers don't sell it and I wasn't going to see it but it is a shame that millions and millions of kids will have their first exposure to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss be garbage like this over marketed and far over extended story.

And, for the record, I think Myers would do himself well to not make any more Austin Powers movies, the concept is just played out.
posted by fenriq at 1:57 PM on November 21, 2003


Long live the ephemeral!!

Heh.

And don't assume the Cat is going to ramrod its way through in spite of its gawdawful reviews: "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" is already a box office disappointment

Interesting perspective on Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
posted by rushmc at 1:57 PM on November 21, 2003


Joey Michaels, I swear, if even one of those comes true I'm going to blame you with all the subsequent hunting down and killing and shit like that.
posted by Cyrano at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2003


I read some of the hilariously negative reviews of this film to my Freshmen high school students. They laughed and laughed. I asked them how many were going to see the movie anyway. They all raised their hands. I asked, "why?" They said, "because sometimes the critics are wrong!" I asked, "all the critics?" They said, "but it's 'The Cat in The Hat!'"

I told them that if they spend their money on something that is crap on the first weekend just because it looks cool, the message Hollywood gets is "we can keep making crap and as long as we can get people to see it during the first weekend, it doesn't matter." I asked if they would wait until the second weekend to see it and they said, "but everyone else will have seen it by then?" I asked, "so?" They looked at me like I was an insane adult from some other planet.

They will see it this weekend. I will even venture to say they will like it. 10 million teenage Mike Myers fans with money to burn can't be wrong.

On preview: Cyrano, if they make any of those, I will welcome your bullets.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:05 PM on November 21, 2003


It was obvious that this movie was an abortion to anyone who saw the commercial. *hack hack* "Heah bwall." That's Long Island-ese for "hairball."

Why the fuck is a cat in a hat in a make-believe world speaking with a Lawn Guyland accent that Linda Richman could probably identify by ZIP code? When you create a fantastical-looking make-believe world, you don't populate it by people with strong, identifiable accents from one small region! Jesus Christ, it doesn't take a fucking cinematic genius to know that!

I trust Spike Jonze to not fuck up Where the Wild Things Are. He's talented and sensitive, and his wife is too, and she would stop him from going over a career cliff.
posted by Holden at 2:06 PM on November 21, 2003


Hey, I saw the cereal and ran towards it too

Then you must firmly grasp the box, and repeatedly bludgeon your skull with it while yelling, WHY! WHY! WHY!

You must resist the urge to be herded like cattle. Do not watch television commercials, do not read the top ten bestsellers, do not buy what everyone else on the block is buying.

The world lacks people with original ideas, independant thought, and the ability to call a piece of crap, a piece of crap, in spite of the opinion of the masses, who are only led to that opinion by very crafty "spoon feeding."

I agree with all who have noted that Mike Myers is spent. No more Austin Powers, no more of him, until he can come up with something original. Until then, it is the same old stuff, simply rehashed.

As for whatnots child, his taste is being developed, just have to get him the right copy of Dr Seuss is all.

I am off on a trip, everyone have a nice holiday, even if you don't celebrate it where you are. Eat a turkey, they taste good.
posted by a3matrix at 2:10 PM on November 21, 2003


That is an interesting piece; thanks, rushmc!
Perhaps this is all critical hyperventilating, and the message here is far less provocative: just as the film displays works of art, and as its characters merge with works of art, we are invited to consider this film itself as a work of art. Certainly, if nothing else, Looney Tunes: Back in Action is a film that invites and even requires repeated viewings to appreciate all of its fine touches, some of them barely discernible even to the most careful of viewers. It is difficult to notice that Damian Drake has earned an MTV Movie Award, that the Acme vice president who asks a rhetorical question is identified as "VP: Rhetorical Questions," or that the African lava pit is fronted by a dusty sign, "Lifeguard Off Duty." But one example especially suggests the film's richness of detail: to explain the film's McGuffin, a character in the secretive Area 52 reaches for the top videotape on a stack of four videotapes, the one labeled "Blue Monkey," and that's all I saw on first viewing. Watching the movie again, I noticed the tape below that one was labeled "Moon Landing Rehearsal Tape," referring to another popular conspiracy theory. What the labels on the other two tapes say, however, will remain a mystery to me until I can watch the movie a third or fourth time
posted by languagehat at 2:11 PM on November 21, 2003


What the hell happened to the end of my post? We've got Safari on our new iMacs at work, and it seems to be eating comments. Anyway, my last was supposed to end
— as I am sure to do someday, being a person on the right side of the generation gap to fully appreciate its many virtues.
Now I want to see it—hell, I'm a boomer, I'm bound to like it.
posted by languagehat at 2:14 PM on November 21, 2003


How sad. What do you expect when the rights were sold therefore relegating control over the content. The spin off merchandise? Yikes. That stays true to the original artwork at least.

Tough call for parents when they say to their kids it's a shit movie [maybe not in those words of course], no way.

If you do take your kids [inevitably you're going to], at least discuss after the movie the good, the bad and the ugly of the movie. I have a feeling the kids may really, really like it.

Ah, Hollywood. [sucks].
posted by alicesshoe at 2:33 PM on November 21, 2003


The Milwaukee paper offers up a positive review of Cat in the Hat. In the spirit of this MeFi thread, I offer my review of the above review: insipid, sophomoric and superficial, it fails to address *anything* meaningful about the film, offering little more than a thin introduction to the plot as compared to the original story. I felt like I was reading something out of a junior-high newspaper.
posted by Tubes at 2:36 PM on November 21, 2003


Nobody has bothered to answer the most important question about this incredible plethora of merchandising: does any of it vibrate?
posted by junkbox at 2:53 PM on November 21, 2003


Vibrates, eh? None that I know, but at least one of them spins, and there's a Super Sproingy item which sproings erect very quickly.
posted by kokogiak at 3:29 PM on November 21, 2003


After seeing that Visa commercial 900 times, I knew I wasn't going to see this movie.
posted by cinderful at 3:30 PM on November 21, 2003


And Matt, if I have any chance whatsoever of stopping you from pumping up the B.O. returns of these evildoers

You've convinced me. I'll download the movie and steal it instead. Hey MPAA! soyjoy made me do it!!!
posted by mathowie at 3:38 PM on November 21, 2003


Why the fuck is a cat in a hat in a make-believe world speaking with a Lawn Guyland accent that Linda Richman could probably identify by ZIP code?
Mike Myers messed up Shrek with the scottish accent, so I can't be surprised at this.

and to add to that list of bad casting for a Dr. Seuss movie: How about Michael Jackson for Hop on Pop?
posted by amberglow at 3:39 PM on November 21, 2003


I just pulled out my copy of The Cat in the Hat and read it cover to cover, and guess what? It is still the wonderful story it has always been.

For those who say Hollywood destroyed it, you are on drugs. (That's not necessarily an insult.) ;-P
posted by mischief at 3:45 PM on November 21, 2003


You know, cindferful, speaking of those VISA ads... for a fleeting moment I felt almost sorry for all the corporate interests that have invested so heavily in co-branded co-promotional craptacular marketing schemes with this movie, only to find themselves associated with a disastrous turd.
Then the moment passed.
posted by Tubes at 3:53 PM on November 21, 2003


The problem, mischief, is that some of the people who might eventually have pulled it out to read it now will not, because they've already seen the movie. Others will still read it, but have all the film associations to overcome.
posted by scarabic at 3:53 PM on November 21, 2003


this movie, and before it, the Grinch Movie were both approved by Audrey Geisel, the widow of Theodore. It does not appear that she's being as good a steward of his works as he might have liked.

I attended the Massachusetts Library Conference (held in Mr & Mrs Geisel's hometown of Springfield, MA) over the summer, and there was (as you can imagine) a good deal of terrified buzz about this movie even four or five months ago.

The prevalent rumor (note operative word) seemed to be that Mrs Geisel had been advised to sell the rights for live action versions of Grinch and Cat as some kind of copyright (or trademark?) protection move ... that the rights were sold prior to the infamous 1998 Bono Act, and that it was done as a way of postponing the characters and illustrations from entering the public domain. The theory was (as the rumor had it) that corporation could copyright the images, characters, and "look and feel" in a way that the author's widow could not.

I don't know if its true, but it does have a certain kind of twisted lawyer logic to it. I can certainly picture some lawyer pitching this.

More on Suess and Copyright here and here and I bet theres more out there....
posted by anastasiav at 3:53 PM on November 21, 2003


Re: Looney Tunes: Back in Action: the director, Joe Dante, also directed Gremlins 2, a film that got a poor critical reception during its theatrical release, but began a second life as a cult film because it had so many jokes and pop-cultural references that it couldn't be absorbed in a single viewing.

Based on descriptions I've heard that are similar to the one in rushmc's post, the Looney Tunes movie seems like the kind of thing Pynchon fans would love. Maybe I'll see that this weekend.
posted by Prospero at 4:11 PM on November 21, 2003


Earlier this week, a co-worker brought in a box of Cat in the Hat Pop Tarts. I ate 3 in one day, just because they were there. Kids will flock to this movie for similar reasons.
posted by davebush at 4:29 PM on November 21, 2003


The problem with all this criticism is none of it is from actual kids. I will wait to see what THEY have to say.
posted by mischief at 4:36 PM on November 21, 2003


i knew this movie would be a pile of steaming crap from the moment i first saw the poster hanging in my local theater. but i'll admit, there is no way anyone could have made a film version that i would have found fair to the book. The Cat in the Hat is my favorite book of all time. now i know what all those "lord of the ring" nerds are going through...

Next holy children's book up for cinematic desecration: Where the Wild Things Are.


HOLY CRAP! what next? In the Night Kitchen? they had better not, the bastards...
posted by joedan at 4:56 PM on November 21, 2003


It is all about branding, and that's the final verdict as far as i'm concerned. "The Cat In The Hat" is a phrase and an image that has seeped into all our minds - the production of this movie is nothing more than an attempt to make money off that public recognition. You know another childrens character whos cooption by the "machine" has really pissed me off? Winnie-the-Pooh. What ever happened to the 100-acre wood? It's all about Pooh-print pyjamas and WWF Smackdowns.
posted by Jimbob at 5:12 PM on November 21, 2003


If it's crap, it will quickly fade, and in another generation someone else might get it right (think Lord of the Rings).

If I read one more, "why isn't wonderful like the Lord of the Rings?" kind of post, I'll puke. Ok, you love LotR, great. I didn't. I thought it was overly ponderous and that Peter Jackson shot his wad of potential genius on Dead Alive. Don't get me wrong, LotR isn't bad film, it's just not great film. It's overlong and over boring. Stunning yes, but those too. I don't want to debate the merits of LotR, that's not the point.

The point is that expecting a 15 minute read of a children's book to turn into something that resembles the spectacle of a 9+ hour mega-trilogy is just silly. I have not seen the Cat in the Hat yet, but I can't believe that it's substantively worse than any other movie directed at children over the past decade. Family viewable entertainment is too rare to pee all over something because some childhood sensibility was offended. Of course, it still might just be crap.
posted by shagoth at 5:32 PM on November 21, 2003


Thank you, rushmc, for the "Looney" link. Now I really want to see it (after previously being discouraged by my disappointment in "Duck Dodgers").
posted by wendell at 6:25 PM on November 21, 2003


For completeness sake, I'll mention The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, a film actually written by Dr. Seuss. It's a very strange, almost surrealistic film.
posted by SPrintF at 6:59 PM on November 21, 2003


Sometimes a turd, is just a turd.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:00 PM on November 21, 2003


Cattus Petasatus
posted by Feisty at 7:23 PM on November 21, 2003


As to the other desecrations - Jimbob, I'm with you 110% on Winnie-the-Pooh. Having just re-read House at Pooh Corner to my 6-year-old and marveled at the subtle and gradual way the eventual exit of Christopher Robin is prepared and developed, I am ever more enraged that these characters have become empty, meaningless vessels for Disney to fill with worthless shlock. I have tried to keep those images away from my kids and when they see them I make a point of calling them "the fake Winnie-the-Pooh" characters. I know, I might be doing more damage than good in spewing my cynicism, but I can't allow myself to stay quiet.

As for Where the Wild Things Are, be aware that it's already been whored out by good ol' Mr. Sendak himself, to Bell Atlantic for a series of egregious ads, putting him on my shit list right good. I guess I'm a tough customer to please. So far I'm still down with my man Bill Watterson, but one wrong step...
posted by soyjoy at 8:06 PM on November 21, 2003


I'll second the recommendation of 5,000 Fingers--very well done--I guess the only good movie based on his books that features real people (and it captures the whole Seuss architecture as emotional element thing).
posted by amberglow at 8:13 PM on November 21, 2003


Has anyone else received a letter with a "Cat in the Hat" postmark and "Happy Holidays from the USPS"? I got a thank you note with one on it. It seemed odd, their using the postmark so commercially, but I guess stamps are kind of like this. It used the original cat in the hat.
posted by mblandi at 8:21 PM on November 21, 2003


Oh, this is mentioned in the WaPo article linked above. Sorry.

Hand stamped, it says? With love?
posted by mblandi at 8:24 PM on November 21, 2003


Re: Looney Tunes--that article is way overselling it. I caught all of those jokes the first time through, and so will you. See it, but don't expect anything beyond pleasant entertainment.

And Gremlins 2 was bad because Phoebe Cates didn't get to do anything.
posted by muckster at 10:21 PM on November 21, 2003


mblandl: Two years ago this time, the USPS cancellations were Grinch-themed. In the movie, Cindy Lou's dad is a letter carrier. Been a long time since I read the Grinch book, don't recall too many USPS logos in the original illustrations.

rushmc: That review actually makes me want to see the Looney Tunes movie, something not even Goldberg could do by himself. After the titanic success of MJ and Bugs Bunny playing basketball... in SPACE, I was bracing for the impact of retreads: I take it back, that Elmer Fudd thing would be more of a Jeff Gordon project.
posted by britain at 10:22 PM on November 21, 2003


Next holy children's book up for cinematic desecration: Where the Wild Things Are.

HOLY CRAP! what next? In the Night Kitchen? they had better not, the bastards...


The good news is that, as with the DVD of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, there's already a DVD (Scholastic Video) with faithful, Sendak-spirited animated versions (WTWTA, In The Night Kitchen, and The Nutshell Kids, including my favorite, Alligators All Around). And it's good, too (music by Carole King and Peter Schickele, aka P.D.Q. Bach)!
posted by wdpeck at 4:01 AM on November 22, 2003


"... faithful, Sendak-spirited animated versions ..."

Yeah, that's the TV special we all had to suffer through every year or so. If memory still serves, it's pretty thoroughly 70s-fied in a not very good way, maybe that's King's schmaltzy vocal stylings getting in the way of my enjoyment, though.

"what next? In the Night Kitchen?"

"Wild" and "Kitchen" are already part of a shoddily-constructed attraction at the baffling and infamous Sony Metreon [warning: eyeball-searing site]. The Wild portion is pretty much just a talking playground, and the Kitchen section is a cafeteria with alarmingly bad chow (and I'm a fan of crappy fast food!).
posted by majick at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2003


Oh. To clarify my slam on Carole King: Imagine being a kid. A favorite storybook classic is to be animated on the television -- an exciting event! But when you finally see it, it's hardly entertainment at all. Instead of being a cartoon, it's another goddamn animated musical. That the vocal talent is in fact talented matters not one whit, because it's not possible to be a kid watching a television and enjoy a fucking musical.

Way to ruin any child's enjoyment of a piece of entertainment!
posted by majick at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2003


Re: Looney Tunes--that article is way overselling it. I caught all of those jokes the first time through, and so will you. See it, but don't expect anything beyond pleasant entertainment.

I caught a matinee this afternoon--the guy who wrote the article linked above is overselling it, but not by much. It won't take four viewings to absorb it all, like he says, but it'll definitely take more than one.
posted by Prospero at 12:17 PM on November 22, 2003


Sorry, can't let this go:

As for Hollywood and their problems of taste, I find it ironic that the man who first coined FUBAR should become such a victim.

FUBAR was not coined by Ted Geisel, and predates that cartoon by ages.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2003


majick spake: Oh. To clarify my slam on Carole King: Imagine being a kid. A favorite storybook classic is to be animated on the television -- an exciting event! But when you finally see it, it's hardly entertainment at all. Instead of being a cartoon, it's another goddamn animated musical. That the vocal talent is in fact talented matters not one whit, because it's not possible to be a kid watching a television and enjoy a fucking musical.

So how, exactly, would *you* have animated the Nutshell Kids -- without music -- to keep it anything resembling interesting? I always liked Kitchen and Nutshell Kids better than WTWTA, and, even as a kid, thought they would be better done to music. If you just don't like Carole King, I'll give you that, but you have to admit that Shickele's music and narration in Kitchen were pretty damned awesome.
posted by wdpeck at 4:03 AM on November 23, 2003


I can't imagine that it would ever work, but it's interesting to consider the effect that boycotting all of the, even remotely, merchandise would have on the film industry. If you usually buy Duracell or Lay's and you see that the box has a tie-in with a movie you thought was crap, buy another brand, and even better let the company know that you are doing this through their website feedback pages. (I admit that I have no idea how to get around stamps !?! - maybe just the email feedback option)

The thought of unrelated industries forcing the entertainment juggernaut to improve it's fare seems worth the effort.

Unfortunately, there are probably too many idiots for this to work.

"...sure we would love to have your trademarked movie characters on our [motor oil, socks, sugar puffs] but our company needs assurances that we won't have another 'cat in the hat' incident. From now on we are going to need to see a coherent plot, well-fleshed out characters and a solid story in addition to the mind blowing special effects, glamorous actors and expensive soundtrack"

I stopped seeing hollywood movies by choice a couple of years ago and so far I don't feel that I have missed out on anything. (I still see the occasional crap to be social, if there is no other choice, but the last one of those was 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' which was nothing special)
posted by milovoo at 5:55 PM on November 23, 2003


you mean to tell me that none of you guys pestered your parents for Star Wars action figures or toy Lone Ranger masks?

i'm sure we all did, but i don't recall han solo using swiffers to clean his ship, or tonto and the lone ranger sitting fireside washing their dishes with dawn detergent. toys may be acceptable spin-off merchandise. it is understandable that a child might want a stuffed cat in the hat doll.

what i don't understand is the marketing of adult products. the commercial i watched last night of the cat in the hat using a certain family of products to clean the house was the last straw.

i'm 33 years old. i have developed brand loyalties. through trial and error, i've found kitty litter that i prefer. as cute as that jonny cat "shhhh" commercial was, it did not make me try a new kitty litter. i have preferred brands for dishwashing detergent, batteries, bread, cereal, etc. All of these were chosen after trying a lot of different products until i found the ones that worked best for me.

i will never change the brands i use because the cat in the hat endorsed a different one. likewise, i won't stop using a brand i prefer because they got on the cat in the hat bandwagon. this type of marketing must work though, or they wouldn't do it.

what in the hell is wrong with people?

also, isn't there a "the cat in the hat comes back" book? expect a sequel.
posted by centrs at 6:14 AM on November 24, 2003


I'm sorry, I thought I had exhausted my well of outrage, but all of this was before I happened across the novelization. This is an even more insidious despoiling, in the original medium, using portions of the original pictures, but putting them into scenes from the movie. Appalling. Really.
posted by soyjoy at 10:09 AM on December 3, 2003


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