Film / The Cat in the Hat

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"Let's get this party started!"

There's no doubt about that!
I'm a super fundiferous feline, who's here to make sure that you're...'meline'...'key lime'...'turpentine?' I got nothing. I'm not so good with the rhyming, not really, no."
The Cat introduces himself to the kids.

The Cat in the Hat is a 2003 film adaptation to the book of the same name, with the titular character portrayed by Mike Myers. In this version, the kids Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and Sally (Dakota Fanning) are helping their mother, Joan (Kelly Preston), get ready for a party thrown for her office in hopes of impressing her boss, though Conrad is presented to be something of a trouble maker and at odds with with Joan. Not helping the familial situation is a sleazy neighbor, Larry Quinn (Alec Baldwin), whose doting on Joan and tries to convince her to send Conrad off to military school while he tries to gain an easy life.

Joan soon sets off for work, leaving the kids with nothing to do until the titular Cat shows up to bring them some fun. But things quickly escalate out of hand, especially when the Cat pull out his crate and tells Conrad never to open it. Naturally Conrad doesn't listen and things go From Bad to Worse as Larry soon gets involved and Conrad, Sally and Cat have to fix up the mess before their mother gets home.

The film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Cat keeps getting Conrad's name wrong.
  • Adaptation Expansion: This is based on a 500 word picture book intended for kindergarteners, after all. For one thing, there's a dog, Mom throwing a house party, an evil neighbor (Alec Baldwin) trying to woo Mom and get the boy shipped off to miliary school, the Cat's universe (likely the world of Who) intruding on this one, etc.
  • Annoying Laugh: The Cat's laugh.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Inverted with the kids. Conrad is the obnoxious irresponsible older sibling while Sally is the reserved controlling sibling.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "He [Thing 2] says, feel free to call him 'Thing A' if you like. He will also accept 'Super Thing', 'Thing King', 'Kid Dynamite', 'Chocolate Thun-da!'...or 'Ben'."
  • Bad Boss: Played for laughs with Mr. Humberfloob, Mom's boss, who fires someone for shaking hands with him (and the employees' reactions imply that he's done this before). Not to mention he frequently screams "FIIIIRRRRREEE-D" at them. Even in this story's universe, it's kind of strange that he has any employees.
  • Balloon Belly: Larry Quinn when we see the inside of his house.
  • Batman Gambit: Part of The Cat's plan for the day hinged on Conrad unlocking and opening the crate. The Cat, knowing Conrad to be a serial rule-breaker, specifically told Conrad not to open the crate knowing full well that he'd then be compelled to open it.
    "Why do you think I made it my one rule? I knew you couldn't resist."
  • Big Bad: Larry Quinn.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Larry, the pompous neighbor, sets himself up as an ideal, thin, real estate agent and boyfriend, but in reality, he's a lazy, unemployed slob with a big gut who just wants to marry Joan for money (because he's about to lose his house). For the first part of the film, only Conrad can see him for what he really is.
  • Butt Monkey: Mrs. Kwan, the hopelessly narcoleptic babysitter is constantly abused by the Cat, the children and Thing One and Thing Two to levels that are just plain psychopathic.
    • They even use her as a boat when the Cat's magic overruns the house.
    • Larry Quinn towards the end, as his selfishness is used to mock him.
  • Child Hater: Quinn, who wants to marry Joan with the intent of sending Conrad off to military school.
  • Control Freak: Sally is explicitly labeled as one by the Cat's "phunometer."
    • Larry could be seen as this also.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Everything that happened in the film was planned in advance by the Cat, including Nevins being taken by Larry. Of course, chopping off his own tail was purely an accident.
  • Curse Cut Short: See example in Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • Deus ex Machina: At the end of the film, the house has been destroyed, the Cat has left, and Conrad and Sally are left sitting on the stairs waiting for their mother to come home and chastise them. The door opens...and lo and behold, it's the Cat again, with a machine fully capable of repairing the entire house and undoing all the damage caused throughout the film (which it then proceeds to do).
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • As mentioned above, Humberfloob fires an employee on the spot for shaking his hand.
      • It's strongly implied Humberfloob is obsessive-compulsive about cleanliness, which would explain this seemingly extreme reaction. He forces his company's employees to hold open houses at their homes, insisting that they be as clean as possible, or else he will fire them.
    • Sally has ended at least two of her friendships for things such as wanting to be Head Chef when making cupcakes, and talking back to her. And in that case she ordered the other girl to never speak to her again.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Played straight twice with the Cat (as a Chef) threatening the TV show host (also the Cat). The first time he tells him, "It'll look like a bloody accident." The second time the Chef pulls out a cleaver knife and says he will end him, only to chop his tail off in the process.
  • Double Entendre: The live-action adaptation was PACKED with them. One of the most prominent being The Cat saying "Dirty ho!" as he throws away a garden hoe, though not before trying to French-kiss it.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Lawrence hates being called Larry (which Conrad does call him anyway).
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: Specifically a Ford Focus hatchback in Egg Yolk Yellow or a decidedly non-stock lime green, with equally non-stock wheel spats that spoil the car's lines. Doubles as a Product Placement.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Look closely at the contract Conrad and Sally sign, and you'll spot some tidbit, like how Annville is located in "Lewis and Clark County"; the "Spayed and Neutered" thing has Mike Myers' actual birthdate listed as the Cat's.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Cat's vehicle is called the Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger (S.L.O.W.), formerly the Super Hydraulic Instanteous Transporter (S.H.I.T.).
    The Cat: Nooooo! Quick! To the S.L.O.W.!
  • Gaussian Girl: Played for laughs when The Cat poses as the birthday party piñata and (possibly) loses more than some hidden candy. Beyond the troubling schoolgirl smock and Lionel Richie tune, note the blurry unicorn in the background.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Enough to have people question why they didn't decide to up the film to a PG-13 rating.
    • The aforementioned scene above with the S.L.O.W.
    • Conrad puts a loaf of bread between his trousers before doing the "Indoor Stair Luge".
    • This bit with Larry and Conrad confronting each other:
    Lawrence "Larry": It's Lawrence you snot-nosed son of a [Joan walks in] WONDERFUL WOMAN who I'm ABSOLUTELY crazy about!
    • Don't forget: "SON OF A B-(cue Sound Effect Bleep)" after the Cat (as a chef) cuts off his tail during an argument with a TV show host (who is also the Cat himself).
    • Before Qunn's television set is repossessed as a result of a missed payment, it appears that he enjoys watching pornography (seeing the suggestive behavior of the woman on the television).
    • Parents would be disgusted if they saw the scene where the kids ask where the Cat came from:
    • When the Cat is singing the fun song:
    There was this cat I knew, back home where I was bred,
    He never listened to a single thing his mother said,
    He never used the litterbox, he made a mess in the hall,
    That's why they sent him to a vet and they cut off his b- *pauses* ...bo...bo...bo...BOY!
    • And another verse from a deleted scene:
    There was a high-strung cat, who who thought she knew it all,
    And when she schedules out her day, it could drive you up a wall,
    She likes to be the teacher's pet, always the head of the class,
    It took a ton of TNT to kill the bug up her aaaaaaaaaaaaaa...aaaaaa...aaaaaaaaaa... ASK me was she fun, fun, fun?
    • An extreme example is when the Cat's hat is squashed and crooked, but then he looks at a picture of Sally and Conrad's apparently attractive mother, and his hat SHOOTS UP with an audible *BOING* sound!! How did that get past?!
      • A deleted scene took this Up to Eleven when, during the scene where he, Conrad and Sally go after Nevins, he literally shows the audience the very picture he saw for a few seconds while sitting on a flowing pool chair.
    • While Conrad and Sally are signing the Cat's contract, they briefly go to one page... to see a "spayed and neutered" certificate. The Cat promptly takes said certificate and hides it, declaring, "This is nothing!"
    • When this scene got by, it was clear that the censors weren't even trying anymore.
    • When Conrad and Sally see the bathroom toilet shooting out flames while riding Ms. Kwan, the Cat comments that the two might want to "hold it for a little while" and that "Something like that really burns my AaaaaaaHHHHH!" right as Ms. Kwan reaches a drop in the track.
  • Groin Attack: The Cat disguises himself as a pinata at a birthday party, kids hit him with plastic bats, and then a bigger kid with a big wooden bat orders them to move out of his way. Conrad predicts that it can't end well and Cat frantically raises a white flag but the boy stands behind him and slams the bat directly into Cat's right groin. The Cat screams for 10 seconds, then he goes into a mental state imagining himself as a woman swinging on a swing while wearing a milk maid outfit. It cuts back to him screaming with his eyes widened and he howls and whoops.
  • Happy Place: What the Cat's Imagine Spot in reaction to the Groin Attack mentioned above was likely meant to be.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Cat mocking the Fish for drinking where he pees. Need we remind you of how cats clean their nether regions?
  • I Warned You: After the house is destroyed, the Fish begins one of these:
    The Fish: "Now this may not be the time for 'I told you so'... (part of the ceiling falls) ...Like I said, not the time!"
  • Interactive Narrator: The ending of the film reveals that the Cat has been narrating the entire time.
  • Ironic Echo: The Cat tells the kids during his "Fun" song that while it is fun to have fun, they have to know how. Then, near the end of the movie, after the house is destroyed, Conrad repeats said phrase while demanding the Cat leave:
    The Cat: But I thought you two wanted to have fun today.
    Conrad: Look around, Cat! You were right. It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how, and you don't know when enough is enough! Now, go!
    • Earlier, Larry Quinn has a discussion with Joan Walden regarding sending Conrad to military school, and he calls the school "what we in the sales game call a win-win scenario." Conrad repeats this to Larry near the end of the movie as Joan sends him out.
  • Jerk Ass: Larry Quinn is selfish, crass and sleazy - but only to the kids.
  • Large Ham: Mr. Humberfloob says, "YOU'RE FIIIRRREEEDDD!!!" Also, both Larry and the Cat fit this trope.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Larry is likely homeless by the end of the movie.
  • Left the Background Music On: In one scene, Sally, Conrad and the Cat are trying to creep up on their dog, who has run off with the movie's MacGuffin, without startling him. Their movements are accompanied by a set of increasingly tense string chords...until Sally and Conrad turn round to see the Cat playing the chords on his whiskers. Actually justified by the Cat:
    Cat: I thought the moment needed something.
  • Logo Joke: The Universal, Dreamworks and Imagine logos are animated in Seussian form.
  • Medium Awareness / No Fourth Wall: The film is full of these types of jokes, to the point where it almost seems more like a parody of Dr. Seuss than an actual adaptation of his work.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The book's narrator is named Conrad.
  • Never My Fault: While chasing their dog, Sally sees her friend Denise having a birthday party and is completely shocked and hurt that she wasn't invited, obviously forgetting that she had previously told Denise never to speak to her again after they had a fight.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: One trailer implies the Cat attempts to hide from the kids by clinging above the ceiling of the living room. It's actually a deleted shot of the Cat hiding from Larry when he talks to the kids after raiding their refrigerator.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Fish's demeanor and mannerisms were patterned after Don Knotts.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Larry sneezed more purple goo while being on his knees and propose to her.
  • Only Sane Man: The Fish, like his book counterpart, though he's much more Jerk Ass in this version.
  • Playing with Syringes: Conversed. One of the suggested treatments for Conrad being a "rule-breaker" and Sally being a "control freak" on the Cat's Phunometer is "a series of painful injections in your abdomen and kneecap."
  • Plot Coupon: The lock on the crate.
  • Product Placement:
    • A rather infamous example occurs later on in the film, when the Cat makes a direct nod to Universal Studios.
    Cat: You mean like at...(scene pauses and the Cat holds up some pamphlets) Universal Studios? Hahaha, cha-ching! (scene unpauses)
  • Punny Name: The name of the town is Annville. The "Spayed and Neutered" thing even has the logo of the Annville Animal Hospital with an actual anvil.
  • Retro Universe
  • Shout-Out: During the "dirty ho" scene, the name on the pug's doghouse is Frank.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Happens with the Cat's hat when the picture of Conrad and Sally's mom falls open, revealing that she has something of a... dirty past.
    • Bonus points for a deleted scene, where the Cat sits on a pool chair flowing the through a stream and shows the audience the picture onscreen for a few seconds.
  • Spiritual Successor: This was co-produced by Universal and Imagine Entertainment, which had mounted the live-action version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Mike Myers being cast as the Cat is a clear analogue to Jim Carrey as the Grinch.
  • Take a Third Option: Parodied by the Cat at one point.
    Sally: We're staying and calling mom!
    Cat: There is a third option. (dramatic piano chord)
    Sally: There is?
    Cat: Yes. It involves...(zooms out to show the Cat standing at a toy keyboard)...murder. (Cat plays a dramatic piano chord)
    Conrad: That's your option?!
    Cat: No, not really, it's just you two both had options and I wanted to have one as well, hehe...or did I? (Cat plays a dramatic piano chord)
  • Terrified of Germs: Hank Humberfloob. He forces his employees to wash their hands constantly, and when a new recruit shakes his hand, he fires him on the spot before scrubbing his hands with hand sanitizer. He also requires all employees to hold meet and greets, and if their house isn't clean, they too will be fired. In short, Humberfloob is what one critic calls "the real estate equivalent of Howie Mandel".
  • The Cameo: Paris Hilton, of all people.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Conrad gives one to Larry Quinn near the end of the film.
    Conrad: Larry, Larry... You look terrible, and my mom thinks you're insane. This is what we in sales call, "a win-win scenario."
  • Title Drop: See page quote. The Cat introduces himself to the kids with this.
  • Toilet Humor: A lot.
  • World of Chaos: What the crate's power ends up transforming the children's house into once the film reaches its climax.
  • Your Mom
    Chef Cat: You're not just wrong, you're stupid!
    TV Host Cat: Now wait just a minute-
    Chef Cat: And you're ugly just like your mum!

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