The Cat in the Hat (film)

The Cat in the Hat (also known as Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat) is a 2003 American fantasy comedy film directed by Bo Welch in his directorial debut and based on Dr. Seuss' book of the same name. Starring Mike Myers in the title role, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Alec Baldwin and Kelly Preston, it is the second and final live-action feature-length Dr. Seuss adaptation after How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).

The Cat in the Hat
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBo Welch
Produced byBrian Grazer
Screenplay by
Based onThe Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss
Narrated byVictor Brandt
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyEmmanuel Lubezki
Edited byDon Zimmerman
Distributed byUniversal Pictures (United States)
DreamWorks Pictures (International)
Release date
  • November 21, 2003 (2003-11-21) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$109 million[2]
Box office$134 million[2]

Tim Allen was originally cast in the title role, but dropped out due to work on The Santa Clause 2, to which the role went to Myers. Filming took place in California for three months. While the basic plot parallels that of the book, the film filled out its 82 minutes by adding new subplots and characters significantly different from the original story, similar to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Released theatrically on November 21, 2003 in the United States, the film underperformed at the box office (having grossed merely $133 million worldwide against a budget of $109 million)[3] and received largely negative reviews from film critics for its adult-oriented humor, innuendos (which they found it unnecessary and insulting to the source material despite having some faithful elements) and Myers’ performance, while the visual aspects, David Newman's musical score and production values were mostly praised. Following the film's release, Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, decided not to allow any further live-action adaptations of Seuss' works to be produced, to which a sequel based on the second book, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, was cancelled.[4]


Conrad and Sally Walden live in the city of Anville with their single mother Joan, who works for neat-freak Hank Humberfloob as a real estate agent, and is hosting an office party at her house. One day, she is called back to the office, leaving the children with their babysitter Mrs. Kwan (after the previous one quit) and forbidding them to enter the living room, which is being kept pristine for the upcoming party. Joan is also dating their next-door neighbor Larry Quinn, much to Conrad's dismay because Larry wants nothing more than to send him away to military school for being a "hot-headed troublemaker".

Once Joan leaves and Mrs. Kwan falls asleep, Sally and Conrad meet an anthropomorphic and humanoid talking cat with a red-and-white striped top hat and a large red bow tie named the Cat in the Hat, who persuades them to learn to have fun, but the family's fish doesn't want the Cat around while Joan is away. During his presence, the Cat leaves a trail of destruction across the house and in the process, releases two troublemaking things named Thing 1 and Thing 2 from a crate that he explains is actually a portal to his world. The Cat tells Conrad never to open the crate and allows the Things to have fun, but they instead make a mess out of the house. Despite the Cat's warning, Conrad picks the lock on the crate, causing the lock to attach to the collar of the family dog Nevins. After this, the Things toss Nevins out of the house. Unless they can lock the crate, a huge mess will spill from it and engulf the house, resulting in a surreal dimension-like landscape where the house stands, aptly named "The Mother of All Messes". Conrad, Sally and the Cat can't leave the house knowing the unlocked crate is leaking, and use Mrs. Kwan's weight to hold it down shut while they search for Nevins and retrieve the lock.

Meanwhile, Larry is revealed to be an unemployed slob with dentures and in financial debt, though claiming that he is a successful businessman in the hopes of marrying Joan for her money and his real reason of sending Conrad to military school is to just get rid of him. Larry sees Nevins running across the street, captures him and drives to Joan's office to tell her. The Cat employs his super-powered car and drives into town with Conrad, Sally and the Fish to follow Larry and rescue Nevins. When Larry tells Joan what's going on while the Cat seems to have lost his hat while attempting to outrun Larry in a party after rescuing Nevins and retrieving the lock, it seems as though things are hopeless for the kids, but during this, Conrad remembers that the Things always do the opposite of what they are told, and uses this to their advantage to have them stall Joan. Things 1 and 2 bring in Larry's car, and Conrad, Sally, the Cat and the Fish use it to drive home. Meanwhile back at home, Mrs. Kwan was interrupted by a phone call, causing her to fall off the crate while she was asleep, allowing the unlocked crate to work its twisted magic. During the trek home, Things 1 and 2 keep Joan busy by posing as police officers and performing a traffic stop. Larry, having somehow deduced what Conrad and Sally were plotting, goes back to the house on the Things' motorcycle, telling Joan to meet him there.

By the time the kids and the Cat return to the house with the lock, an enraged Larry suddenly cuts them off and orders them inside the house, where he immediately sneezes uncontrollably due to his allergy to the Cat, who takes advantage of this and scares him away, only for the house to fall apart in a paper-like fashion, with Larry falling into a gooey abyss. Although the trio is too late to stop the crate from opening and creating the Mother of All Messes, they navigate their way through the house, find it and close it, to which the house returns to its normal proportions, but then collapses. Following a heated argument, the kids discover that the Cat planned everything the whole time, including Nevins running away, to which they order the Cat to leave the house after being fed up with his messy actions.

Following this, Conrad pessimistically prepares to face the consequences when Joan comes home, while Sally follows suit. Having overheard this, the Cat returns to clean up the mess with a cleaning invention and fixes up the house while Joan is on her way home. Conrad and Sally thank the Cat for everything before he says goodbye and departs just as Joan arrives. A really messy Larry, having survived the gooey abyss of the Mother of All Messes, returns and think he has busted the kids, but when Joan sees the clean house, she doesn't believe and dumps him. After the successful party, Joan spends quality time with her kids by jumping on the living room couch, while the Cat alongside Things 1 and 2 walk off into the sunset.


  • Mike Myers as The Cat in the Hat, a tall, anthropomorphic, wise-cracking cat with a Brooklyn accent and a goofy laugh who wears a special hat which reveals many humorously unrealistic gadgets.
  • Spencer Breslin as Conrad Walden, Joan's destructive and misbehaved borderline troublemaker of a son, and the older brother of Sally.
  • Dakota Fanning as Sally Walden, Joan's dull, somewhat bossy, well-behaved and rule-obeying sycophant daughter, and the younger sister of Conrad.
  • Kelly Preston as Joan Walden, Conrad and Sally's single-mother, a workaholic real-estate agent.
  • Alec Baldwin as Larry Quinn, the main antagonist; the Waldens' pompous, lazy and unemployed next-door neighbor who revealed to be allergic to cats, steals food from the Waldens and gets away with it, and is determined to both marry Joan to mooch off of her wealth and send Conrad to military school in order to get rid of him.
  • Amy Hill as Mrs. Kwan, an overweight and elderly Taiwanese woman who was hired to watch the kids, though she sleeps through her job, which (as well as her weight) serves as a running gag. She usually sits down on the couch to watch brawling in Taiwanese parliament.
  • Sean Hayes as Hank Humberfloob, Joan's zero-tolerance boss and germophobe, who may seem friendly at first glance, but is quick to fire employees for even the smallest infractions, often in an over-annunciating, extremely loud tone of voice.
    • Hayes is also the voice of the somewhat cynical, pessimistic family fish.
  • Danielle Chuchran and Taylor Rice as Thing 1, and Brittany Oaks and Talia-Lynn Prairie as Thing 2; two gibbering trouble-making creatures that the Cat brings in with him. Dan Castellaneta provided the voices for both Things.
  • Steven Anthony Lawrence as Dumb Schweitzer, an intellectually and socially inferior pre-teen boy with a bronx accent. He whacks the Cat right in the crotch with a wooden baseball bat.
  • Paris Hilton as a female club-goer.
  • Bugsy as Nevins, the Waldens' pet dog. Frank Welker provided his voice. Welker had previously provided the voice of Max the dog, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • Candace Dean Brown as a secretary who works for the Humberfloob Real Estate.
  • Daran Norris as the Astounding Products Announcer
  • Clint Howard as Kate the Caterer
  • Paige Hurd as Denise, who does not speak to Sally anymore, not long after she talked back to her. She never invited Sally to her birthday party either since Sally earlier stated that she told Denise not to speak to her anymore.
  • Roger Morrisey as Mr. Vompatatat
  • Victor Brandt as the Narrator, who tells the story; he is revealed to be the Cat using a voice-changer at the end.



DreamWorks Pictures acquired the film rights to the original Dr. Seuss book in 1997.[5] However, production did not originally start until after the 2000 Christmas/comedy film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, based on another Dr. Seuss book of the same name, became a commercial success. Brian Grazer, who was the producer of The Grinch, stated, "Because we grew up with these books, and because they have such universal themes and the illustrations ignite such fantasy in your mind as a child—the aggregation of all those feelings—it leaves an indelible, positive memory. And so when I realized I had a chance to convert first The Grinch and then, The Cat in the Hat, into movies, I was willing to do anything to bring them to the screen."[6] Grazer contacted Bo Welch over the phone with the offer to direct the film, and he accepted.[7] When production began, songs written by Randy Newman were dropped because they were deemed inferior. Newman's cousin, David, instead composed the score for the film. Although Welch and a publicist for Myers denied it, several people said Myers had considerable input into the film's direction, telling some of the cast (co-stars Baldwin and Preston) how to perform their scenes.[8]


Tim Allen was originally going to play the role of the Cat. The script would be originally based on a story conceived by Allen, who admitted that as a child he was afraid of Seuss' "mischievous feline" babysitter. Allen stated, "My dream is to give it the edge that scared me."[9] However, producers did not commission a screenplay until late February 2001, when Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel (who were also writers on the television series Seinfeld) were hired to write the script (replacing the original draft of the film that was written a few years before being penned by Eric Roth),[10] so the film would not be ready to shoot before the deadline. Allen was also committed to shooting Disney's The Santa Clause 2, which was also delayed because Allen wanted a script rewrite.[11] Due to a scheduling conflict with that film,[12] he dropped out his role.[13] In March 2002, the role of the Cat was given to Mike Myers,[14] even though he had an argument with Grazer about starring in a cancelled film based on his Saturday Night Live sketch Dieter.[15] Myers stated in an interview that he was a long-time fan of the original Dr. Seuss book, and that it was the first book he ever read.[16]

Makeup and visual effects

Makeup for the Cat character was designed by Steve Johnson. The Cat costume was made of angora and human hair and was fitted with a cooling system. To keep Myers cool during the outdoor shoots, a portable air conditioner was available that connected a hose to the suit between shots, while the tail and ears were battery-operated.[17] Danielle Chuchran and Brittany Oaks, who portrayed Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively, wore a prosthetic facemask and wig designed by Johnson as well. The Fish was considered somewhat of a unique character for Rhythm & Hues Studios (responsible for some of the effects and animation in such films as Cats & Dogs, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Scooby-Doo), in that the character had no shoulders, hips or legs, so all of the physical performance had to emit from the eyes, head and fin motion. Sean Hayes, who provided the voice for the Fish, found the role significantly different from his usual on-camera jobs; he did not know how the final animation would look, to which all of his voice work took place alone in a sound booth.[18]


Prior to filming, giant props for the film were stolen from the set. Local police found the props vandalized with graffiti in a mall car park in Pomona, California. Despite this, no arrests had been made and filming was to start the next week.[19] Principal photography took place mostly in California from October 2002 until January 2003. The neighborhood and the town centre was filmed in a rural valley near Simi Valley, where 24 houses (each 26 feet square and 52 feet tall) were constructed.[20] The downtown area outdoor shots were filmed along a Pomona street where a number of antique and gift shops are located. The community decided not to redecorate after filming ended, so the surreal paint scheme and some of the signage could still be seen today as it appears in the film. Because of so much smog in the area, the sky had to be digitally replaced with the cartoon-like sky and colors of the background had to be digitally fixed.


The Cat in the Hat
Film score / Soundtrack album by
ReleasedNovember 18, 2003
LabelBMG Soundtracks

The soundtrack was released on November 18, 2003.[21] Originally, Marc Shaiman was going to compose the score for the film, but due to David Newman already being chosen for the film score, Shaiman instead wrote the film's songs with Scott Wittman. The soundtrack also features a song by Smash Mouth ("Getting Better"), making it the third Mike Myers-starring film in a row to feature at least one song by Smash Mouth, after Shrek (2001) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). The trailer for the film uses a version of "Hey! Pachuco!" by the Royal Crown Revue. The soundtrack also includes a couple of songs performed by Mike Myers (the role of the Cat). Newman's score won a BMI Film Music Award.

Track listing

All music is composed by David Newman, except as noted.


Home media

The Cat in the Hat was released on VHS and DVD on March 16, 2004.[22] It features 16 deleted scenes, 20 outtake scenes, almost a dozen featurettes, and a "Dance with the Cat" tutorial to teach children how to do a Cat in the Hat dance.[23] On February 7, 2012, the film was released on Blu-ray.[24]


Box office

The Cat in the Hat opened theatrically on November 21, 2003 and earned $38,329,160 in its opening weekend, ranking first in the North American box office.[25] The film ended its theatrical run on March 18, 2004, having grossed $101,149,285 domestically and $32,811,256 overseas for a worldwide total of $133,960,541.[2]

Critical response

The film was heavily panned by critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 9% approval rating, based on 158 reviews with an average rating of 3.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "Filled with double entendres and potty humor, this Cat falls flat."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 19 out of 100 based on 37 reviews, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[27] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[28]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film one star, stating: "Cat, another overblown Hollywood raid on Dr. Seuss, has a draw on Mike Myers, who inexplicably plays the Cat by mimicking Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 out of 4 stars. Although he praised the production design, he considered the film to be "all effects and stunts and CGI and prosthetics, with no room for lightness and joy".[29] Ebert and co-host Richard Roeper gave the film "Two Thumbs Down". Roeper said of Myers' performance that "Maybe a part of him was realizing as the movie was being made that a live-action version of The Cat in the Hat just wasn't a great idea." Ebert had the same problem with the film that he had with How the Grinch Stole Christmas, in that "If there is one thing I've learned from these two movies is that we don't want to see Jim Carrey as a Grinch, and we don't want to see Mike Myers as a cat. These are talented comedians, let's see them do their stuff, don't bury them under a ton of technology."

Concerns were also raised over the PG rating of the film with some critics, stating that it should have instead been rated PG-13 in relation to its high amount of adult content.[30]

Leonard Maltin in his Movie Guide gave it one-and-a-half stars out of four, saying that the "Brightly colored adaptation of the beloved rhyming book for young children is a betrayal of everything Dr. Seuss ever stood for, injecting potty humor and adult (wink-wink) jokes into a mixture of heavy-handed slapstick and silliness." Maltin also said that the film's official title which included Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat was "an official insult".[31]

Conversely, Variety praised it as being "attractively designed, energetically performed and, above all, blessedly concise, this adaptation of one of the most popular American kids' books walks the safe side of surrealism with its fur-flying shenanigans. The younger the viewers, the better reactions are bound to be, while grownups will sit in varying states of bemusement".[32]

Baldwin addressed complaints the film received because of its dissimilarity to the source material. He expressed a belief that a film is "an idea about something" and that because Dr. Seuss' work is so unique, making a feature-length film out of one of his stories would entail taking liberties and making broad interpretations.[33]

Awards and nominations

Award Subject Nominee Result
BMI Film Awards Best Music David Newman Won
DFWFCA Awards Worst Film Won
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actor Mike Myers Nominated
Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actor of the Decade Nominated
Worst Actor Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Alec Baldwin Nominated
Worst Supporting Actress Kelly Preston Nominated
Worst Picture Nominated
Worst Director Bo Welch Nominated
Worst Screenplay Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, based on the book by Dr. Seuss Nominated
Worst Screen Couple Mike Myers and either Thing One or Thing Two Nominated
Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (All Concept/No Content) Won
Worst "Comedy" of Our First 25 Years Nominated
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards[34] Worst Picture Won
Worst Director Bo Welch Nominated
Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More Than $100 Million Worldwide Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, based on the book by Dr. Seuss Won
Worst Actor Mike Myers Nominated
Worst Fake Accent - Male Nominated
Worst Supporting Actor Alec Baldwin Nominated
Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy Nominated
Worst Song "Fun, Fun, Fun"; music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman Nominated
Most Annoying Non-Human Character Cat in the Hat Won
Thing One and Thing Two (voices by Dan Castellaneta) Nominated
The Spencer Breslin Award (Worst Performance by a Child Actor) Spencer Breslin Won
Dakota Fanning Nominated

The film also received three nominations at the Hollywood Makeup & Hairstylists Guild Awards.[35]


Cancelled sequel

On the day of the film's release, Mike Myers stated in an interview that he expected a sequel where the kids meet the Cat again, since there was a sequel to the book. A sequel based on The Cat in the Hat Comes Back was in development just over a month before the film's release.[36] However, in February 2004, Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, said she would not allow any further live-action adaptations of her husband's works and plans for the sequel were cancelled.[37]

Animated reboot

On March 15, 2012, a computer-animated The Cat in the Hat remake was announced by Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment following the success of The Lorax.[38][39][40][41][42][43][44] On January 24, 2018, Warner Animation Group announced that they have picked up the rights for the animated Cat in the Hat reboot movie, along with many of Seuss' works.[45]

Video game

The film has a 2.5D platformer video game published by Vivendi Universal Games and developed by Magenta Software and Digital Eclipse. The game was released for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Game Boy Advance on November 5, 2003, and PC on November 9, 2003, shortly before the film's theatrical release.[46][47]

See also


  1. "THE CAT IN THE HAT (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. November 27, 2003. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  2. "The Cat in the Hat (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  3. "The Cat in the Hat (2003) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  4. "Seussentenial: 100 years of Dr. Seuss". Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  5. Linder, Brian (March 13, 2001). "Grazer Talks Cat in the Hat". IGN. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  6. "THE CAT IN THE HAT - Production Notes". p. 1. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  7. Welch, Bo. (2004). Commentary for The Cat in the Hat [DVD]. Universal Pictures.
  8. Horn, John (November 19, 2003). "A 'Cat' with some bite". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  9. Keck, William (November 24, 2000). "Scary 'Cat'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  10. Stax (February 26, 2001). "New Cats Hired for Live-Action Hat". IGN. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  11. Susman, Gary (April 26, 2001). "The strike: a film-goer's guide". The Guardian. London. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  12. Keck, William (March 8, 2002). "'The Cat' Came Back". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  13. "Meow Nix". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. November 16, 2001. Retrieved February 5, 2010.
  14. "Myers to play The Cat in the Hat". The Guardian. London. March 7, 2002. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  15. Keck, William (March 15, 2002). "Hello Kitty". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  16. Murray, Rebecca. "Dr. Seuss Fan Mike Myers Talks About "The Cat in the Hat"". Archived from the original on September 19, 2005. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  17. Welch, Bo (November 21, 2003), The Cat in the Hat, retrieved April 10, 2016
  18. "THE CAT IN THE HAT - Production Notes". p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  19. "Stolen 'Cat in the Hat' Props Found". WENN. IMDb. October 16, 2002. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  20. "THE CAT IN THE HAT - Production Notes". p. 5. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  21. "The Cat in the Hat [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] - David Newman | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  22. "Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat (Widescreen Edition) (2003)". Amazon. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  23. Telsch, Rafe. "The Cat in the Hat DVD Review". Cinema Blend. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  24. "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat [Blu-ray] (2003)". Amazon. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  25. "Weekend Box Office Results for November 21-23, 2003". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. November 24, 2003. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  26. Dr. Seuss - The Cat in the Hat - Rotten Tomatoes
  27. The Cat in the Hat - Metacritic
  28. "CinemaScore".
  29. Ebert, Roger (November 21, 2003). "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in The Hat". The Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  30. "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat review at Haro Online". Haro Online. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  31. Maltin, Leonard (2013) Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide Plume
  33. Baldwin, Alec. (2004). Commentary for The Cat in the Hat [DVD]. Universal Pictures.
  34. "2003 26th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinker Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  36. Kirschillng, Gregory (October 3, 2003). "The Deal Report". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  37. "Seussentenial: 100 years of Dr. Seuss". Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  38. Fleming, Mike (March 15, 2012). "Dr. Seuss' 'The Cat In The Hat' Get Another Life At Chris Meledandri's Illumination". Deadline. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  39. "Dr. Seuss' 'The Cat in the Hat' coming to the big screen again". Hit Fix. March 15, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  40. Elsenberg, Eric (March 15, 2012). "The Cat In The Hat To Get A Second Go At The Big Screen". Cinema Blend. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  41. Arruda, Cameron (March 16, 2012). "Dr. Seuss' 'The Cat in The Hat' Will Be Remade As Animated Film". Durance Magazine. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  42. Lee, Mike (March 16, 2012). "Universal Reboots THE CAT IN THE HAT Into 3D CGI Animated Feature". Cinema Blend. Fushed Film. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  43. Makarechi, Kia (March 16, 2012). "'Cat In The Hat' Movie: Universal Hopes To Follow 'The Lorax' With Another Dr. Seuss Box Office Win". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  44. Dean Schmitz, Greg (March 16, 2012). "Weekly Ketchup: The Cat in the Hat Gets A CGI Remake". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  45. Kroll, Justin (January 24, 2018). "'Cat in the Hat' Movie in Works From Warner Bros., Dr. Seuss Enterprises". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  46. Provo, Frank (December 15, 2003). "Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat Review (GBA)". GameSpot. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  47. Hwang, Kaiser (February 6, 2004). "The Cat in the Hat". IGN. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
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