For those of you who are into double-entendres and a little potty humor mixed in with their Dr. Seuss, Mike Myers’ The Cat in the Hat is the perfect film for you. Netflix has recognized there may be a few of you out there so it has just added the title to its library.
The Mike Myers film and the sparsely worded book couldn’t be more different. The one thing they do have in common is the appearance of the Cat, as well as those mischievous rascals, Thing 1 and Thing 2. But for the bulk of the film, taking a book that requires about ten minutes to read and turning it into a 90-minute movie requires a lot of filling-in-the-blanks, which didn’t go over well.
The story has two young kids, Conrad and Sally Walden (played by Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning) who live with their single mother Joan (Kelly Preston). Joan works for an OCD boss, Hank Humberfloob (Sean Hayes from Will & Grace), and has to go back into work, leaving her kids home with Mrs. Kwan (Amy Hill). Joan has also left strict instructions for the kids not to enter the living room as it needs to stay pristine for an office party Joan is hosting. It is right about this time that trouble arrives in the guise of a large cat, wearing a large hat.
While the kids are well aware of their mothers’ strict orders, Cat has no problem mixing things up a bit. The trail of destruction he leaves throughout the house is immense, and he is also helped by two small creatures, Thing 1 and Thing 2. Add this to Nevins, the family dog, running away, and the kids have way more trouble than they want.
Alec Baldwin appears as Larry Quinn, the next-door neighbor who has been dating Joan, who also turns out to be an unemployed slob only after Joan’s money.
Cat, though, continues his torment and destruction. Of course, he calls it having fun, which the kids seem unable to have. By the time the kids learn how to have fun, the house is in a shamble as Joan is on her way home from work. They tell Cat they never wish to see him again, so he leaves, packing up Thing 1 and 2 and taking them with him. With the house virtually destroyed, the kids know the trouble they are about to get into with their mother. Unless Cat comes back to make all the wrongs right.
Perhaps, if this Mike Myers film was a stand-alone movie not based on the works of Dr. Seuss, it would have fared better. But comparing the two works is like comparing a dog and a cat. They both walk on four legs and that is pretty much where the resemblances end. The film was filled with probably more risqué humor than initially intended, but again, trying to fill a movie based on a book that was, at best, 1,600 words long is a difficult task. The film felt flat, though, on its ghastly $109 million budget, it did bring in $134 million at the box office. But fans didn’t care for it and the critics roasted the movie to the tune of a pathetic 9% Rotten Tomato approval rating.
There actually was a sequel in pre-production a month before the film was released. It was to be based on the actual Dr. Seuss sequel to The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back where the kids meet up with Cat again. Both Mike Myers and director Bo Welch were set to return, though it wasn’t known if either Breslin or Fanning were to return as the kids. But once the film received its horrible reviews, Theodore Geisel’s wife Audrey decided that there would be no more live-action movies based on her husband’s work. “I never saw ‘Austin Powers,’ but I knew ‘Yeah, baby!’ and I didn’t want ‘Yeah, baby!’ at all,” she told Today in 2004. The sequel was canceled, and this is the reason why any subsequent Dr. Seuss movies have been animated.
The Cat in the Hat could have spelled the end to Mike Myers’s career. His now-confirmed on set diva-like behavior was an issue that had followed him around since Austin Powers became a huge hit. Amy Hill, who played the sleepy babysitter, Mrs. Kwan, had nothing but horrible memories of Mike Myers on the set of The Cat in the Hat. She told the AV Club, “He is like a little hermit. He would come in and, I guess, be in hair and makeup. We would wait. I’d be there at the crack of dawn, waiting. We would all be waiting for Mike Myers to come.” But Hill wasn’t done going after Myers. “He had his handlers dress his trailer, and his area was all covered with tenting because he didn’t want anybody seeing him. It was so weird. It was just the worst. It was like I was there forever, and my daughter was 2 and a half and I felt like I was missing her first everything. I was miserable. I just thought it was really rude for him to not take all of us into consideration.” Hill then went on to explain that while she felt Welch was a great guy, it was his first time directing a feature, so he deferred to Myers too often and too much. She concluded with another example of Mike Myers’s ultimate diva-ness. “There was a guy who held his chocolates in a little Tupperware. Whenever he needed chocolate, he’d come running over and give him a chocolate. That’s what divas are like, I guess. Or people who need therapy.”
Mike Myers made one more feature film after The Cat in the Hat. It came five years after Cat in the Hat and his 2008 The Love Guru failed just as spectacularly at the box office. Since that failure, Myers has appeared in three movies in a brief fashion. The 2009 Quentin Tarantino war fantasy Inglourious Basterds, and in 2018 he was seen twice, once in Terminal and once in Bohemian Rhapsody. There have been major rumblings that Mike Myers has plans to dust off his Austin Powers character Goldmember one more time for a fourth go-around but nothing is set in stone. The rumor circling this is that the film may concentrate more on Dr. Evil, but again, all this is speculation at this point, though both Jay Roach, who directed the first three, and Mike Myers himself have recently commented that a story is in place.
Until that time, go check the sometimes wildly inappropriate Mike Myers movie The Cat in the Hat on Netflix. It may deliver some chuckles, if that sort of humor is your bag, baby.