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One caper that may have you catnapping.

Dr seuss will be spinning in his grave.

This lurid adaptation of his popular tale bears only scant resemblance to the original rhyme, which has been embellished with all manner of crude humour and narrative padding.

After 20 minutes, I seriously considered whether it would be more humane to telephone a vet and have the cat put down.

Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and his goody-two-shoes sister Sally (Dakota Fanning) are trapped inside one rainy afternoon with little to keep them occupied.

The two children couldn't be more different, but both yearn for the love of their mother, Joan (Kelly Preston), who is stuck in the office at the beck and call of her deranged boss, Mr Humberfloob (Sean Hayes).

As usual, the baby-sitter, Mrs Kwan (Amy Hill), falls asleep on the sofa and leaves the little ones to their own devices.

Thankfully, the day is soon filled with magic and mystery with the arrival of The Cat In The Hat (Mike Myers) who promises to cheer up Conrad and Sally.

Aided by the gymnastic Thing 1 and Thing 2, The Cat proceeds to wreck the house then helps the youngsters to see their charming next door neighbour, sharply tailored Lawrence Quinn (Alec Baldwin), for the scheming slimeball he truly is.

Conrad and Sally are having so much fun with The Cat, they forget that their mother is hosting an important party at the house.

Can they clear up the mess before she and the guests arrive?

The Cat In The Hat is blessed with eye-popping art direction and set design and some gorgeous costumes and make-up.

Indeed, the film is a visual triumph with good use of computer special effects to evoke The Cat's surreal, Dali-esque world of mayhem and mirth.

Unfortunately, the compliments pretty much stop there.

Myers recycles his Austin Powers buffoonery behind the cat's latex bodysuit but isn't remotely likeable or funny. If anything, his four-legged fool is somewhat sinister.

Breslin and Dakota are sweet in their two-dimensional roles while Preston and Baldwin trot out their lines to pay the rent.

It's depressing stuff with only a handful of laughs for younger viewers and even less entertainment for parents, who may need a catnap.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 2, 2004
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