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Film / In Search of Dr. Seuss

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"Come along with me, in search of Dr. Seuss!"

Open a book, open up your imagination.
—A Dr. Seuss quote written on the cover of the Portal Book

In Search of Dr. Seuss is a biographical film about Dr. Seuss, first aired on TNT on November 6, 1994, featuring newly-recorded live action segments and excerpts of previous animated films based on his books. It was directed by Vincent Paterson and written by Keith R. Clarke.

It follows reporter Kathy Lane (Kathy Najimy) who befriends The Cat in the Hat (Matt Frewer) after she barges into Dr. Seuss' house in an attempt to get a new angle for a story about the author. She then meets several of Dr. Seuss' characters, who involve her in their stories and deliver the biographical information.

In Search of Dr. Seuss contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Horton Hatches the Egg, The Lorax, and The Butter Battle Book in particular get trimmed pretty heavily to fit into this 90-minute documentary.
  • Argument of Contradictions: "This is good. This is great. Yes! Very nice." "Not good. Not great. Not nice!"
  • Artistic License – History: Aside from the confusion over the "Hitler Lives" segment as detailed below, this film also clearly sidesteps over the cause of the death of Dr. Seuss' first wife, Helen, namely that she committed suicide, mostly due to her husband's affair with Audrey, who would become his second wife. The film also incorrectly states that he fell in love with Audrey after the death of Helen. This was altered, no doubt, due to the age of the target audience.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Cat in the photo of Dr. Seuss winks at the audience after Kathy leaves.
  • Credits Montage: The opening and end credits both feature clips from the documentary and cartoons.
  • Foreshadowing: When Mr. Hunch offers Kathy some Green Eggs and Ham, she turns them down with, "I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham." Mr. Hunch predicts, "I have a hunch you'll change your mind." Guess what happens when Kathy meets Sam-I-Am.
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: "Yertle the Turtle" has gospel singers portray most of the other turtles.
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Literally, as Kathy takes the role of the book's main character.
  • Instant Costume Change: The Cat and Kathy undergo this both before and after singing "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lampshaded when the Cat describes Kathy's conning her way into the house as "Shameful, but exactly what I would've expected of a journalist."
  • Little Bit Beastly: The Cat looks perfectly human, aside from the cat prints he leaves behind on the Sneetches' beach.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Some Dr. Seuss books with no Animated Adaptations to reuse clips or Stock Footage from became live-action skits instead, as did The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.
  • Look Behind You: Kathy pulls this on the Cat before rushing into Dr. Seuss' house.
  • Medium Blending: Kathy never seems to notice that Horton and the Sneetches are animated, whereas the Cat, Mr. Hunch, and the Who-Villian are live.
  • Me's a Crowd: Sam-I-Am has an army of look-alikes to help convince Kathy to try some green eggs and ham.
  • No Name Given: The Cat in the Hat, Mr. Hunch, Ad Man and Ad Woman, Father and Daughters, and the Who-Villian.
  • Reaching Through the Fourth Wall: The "Open a Book, Open Up Your Imagination" book that allows Kathy to meet the characters, travel to the locations, and interact with the various objects and items from Dr. Seuss' books, aside from the Cat.
  • Redubbing: The original voices in the Horton Hatches the Egg segment were removed and replaced with new voices, all performed by Frank Welker. He also redubbed a couple characters in The Butter Battle Book segment, to talk the viewer through plot points the whole special covered in song instead.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Kathy Najimy's hand uses the animated door knocker in the opening song.
  • Spinning Out of Here: Kathy and the Cat return to Dr. Seuss' house by holding hands and quickly spinning in a circle.
  • Take That!: The Cat and Kathy agree about Dick and Jane books providing a boring means of teaching children how to read.
  • Toon Transformation: The opening credits invert this when Kathy and Dr. Seuss' house change from animation to live-action.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Mack raps to protest Yertle the Turtle stacking everyone.
  • World of Ham: Almost all of the actors give rather broad performances, to say the least.
  • Wrongfully Attributed: Kathy and The Voice of America state that Dr. Seuss wrote and Frank Capra directed the short documentary Hitler Lives. The reality is somewhat more complicated. "Hitler Lives" was a re-edited version of a Army training short called Your Job in Germany, which explained to US troops why they couldn't go home immediately and why they couldn't make friends with the frauleins. Your Job in Germany was written by Theodore (Dr. Seuss) Geisel, and directed by Frank Capra. The film was given a re-edit and repackage for the home front via Warner Brothers, and it was this film, Hitler Lives that is credited to Saul Ekins as the writer and Gordon Hollingshead as "Supervisor" (Don Siegel apparently directed the new sequences, but was left uncredited). Roughly half the short is still the work of Giesel and Capra, with the first 9 or so minutes having only light edits to Giesel's script to remove military-specific information and directives and one profanity that would have caused the short to be rejected due to the Hayes Code.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: When Kathy returns to Dr. Seuss' house at the end, it doesn't seem like much time in the real world has passed since she entered the book.