Certain movies have the privilege of enjoying a second life through online infamy. Bee Movie, The Room, The Last Airbender, all those YouTube videos where Bee Movie is sped up every time they say "bee" (and if Bee Movie counts as a movie, so do those videos). But I believe one film is missing from this unfortunate pantheon.
We all know that the 2003 live-action The Cat in the Hat is the Citizen Kane of movies that star Mike Myers in a giant furry cat suit. Still, I worry that somehow, it's faded from our collective memory.
That's why I've made it my mission to rewatch this absolutely inexplicable movie for the first time since I was 5 years old. I'll journey into chaos to document every single bizarre, haunting, and straight-up offensive thing that The Cat in the Hat has to offer, because no film the late, great Roger Ebert described as "the ritual sacrifice of a big star to a high concept" ought to be forgotten.
And right off the bat, Peacock's letting me know I'm in for the time of my life.
1.First of all, the city of Anville looks like this.
I get the schtick of attaching giant versions of the things you sell to your store, but what does this place on the left sell? Exclusively globes? Seems like a money-laundering front to me.
2.Do you think hand sanitizer jokes are funny, The Cat in the Hat? DO YOU!?
3.This "joke" is an insult to wordplay and a crime against punnery. Also, it gives us the deeply unpleasant phrase "baby leavers."
4.Seriously, what the hell, movie?
5.The gentleman in the green suit is Joan's boss, a realtor by the name of Mr. Humberfloob, and it's becoming increasingly clear that he's an opportunity for this movie to make cruel jokes about OCD. So that sucks.
And what's going on with the fired guy's hair?
6.Here, we have Humberfloob's hand sanitizer holster.
7.Terrible jokes aside, Humberfloob is clearly the worst, and he makes his employees host monthly events for his business in their own homes.
8.DYSTOPIA. PASTEL DYSTOPIA.
9.It's in one of these pale lavender nightmare homes that we meet Joan's children, 12-year-old Conrad and 8-year-old Sally.
Here's what you need to know about the dynamic duo. Sally is too serious for her own good...
...and Conrad is a demon.
10.The dog gets returned by Alec Baldwin, but for some reason everyone calls him Lawrence (or Larry, in Conrad's case).
Larry wants to send Conrad to a military school that's eight hours away, but Joan isn't so sure about it. When she leaves the room and Conrad confronts him, Larry straight-up tells this child (who, while demonic in nature, doesn't deserve this) that he hates him and wants him gone.
11.There's an entire scene dedicated to this non-joke.
12.Joan has to go back to work, so she calls in the elderly Mrs. Kwan to babysit. Mrs. Kwan promptly settles in and turns on "Z-Span," where she watches members of the Taiwanese Parliament physically fight each other, so I think it's probably for the best that we start an "Offensive Jokes" counter now.
13.Folks, the Cat has arrived.
14.HOW is a CHARACTER from a RHYMING BOOK "not so good" at RHYMING?
15.Regrettably, we've arrived at the moment when The Cat in the Hat decided to take on sex education.
16.I hate to use hyperbole, but this scene robbed me of my will to live, perhaps permanently.
17.This movie thinks it's getting way more comedic mileage out of the word "babysitter" than it really is.
18.The Cat uses a "Phunometer" to measure how much fun Sally and Conrad are.
After briefly being outed as a serial arsonist, Sally is determined to be a control freak, while Conrad is a rule breaker.
The Cat then charges them $700 for their exams, because if there's anything kids love, it's jokes about America's broken healthcare system.
19.I almost don't want to give any context to this image, because nothing I say to you will make it less haunting.
20.The musical interlude kicks off with a castration reference, and I would say that's representative of the song's overall tone and execution.
21.I saw this, so now you have to, too.
22.The Cat briefly becomes a bullfighter. Why, you ask? There is no why. There is only Cat.
23.During the grand finale, the Cat drinks some milk and this happens. He then burps hairballs all over Sally and Conrad, and they are not nearly as infuriated as they should be.
24.For reasons that are no longer topical enough to understand, the Fish goes straight for MTV's jugular.
25.The Cat makes the kids sign a contract before they start having fun, because of course he's been sued before.
This is tucked into the pages of the contract, because two minutes have passed since the last spaying and neutering joke, and this movie doesn't want you to forget what it's all about.
26.Here's my theory about The Cat in the Hat: It's trying to achieve the same sort of chaotic improvisational brilliance of Robin Williams as Aladdin's Genie...
...but it's really, really bad at it.
27.Remember that hypothetical writer from before who scribbled down the joke about the male caterer named Kate? On the next page of their ideas notebook, they wrote down, "Clowns + hepatitis = comedy gold."
28.Sally wants to make cupcakes, so naturally the Cat turns to violence.
29.You could probably make another movie about the focus group that was forced to see the Cat in the Hat threatening to murder a blonde version of itself with a meat cleaver. I wouldn't watch it, but it could be made.
30.The murder cupcakes explode and splatter purple goo everywhere, and the Cat decides to clean it up using the dress Joan was going to wear tonight. When Sally accuses him of ruining it, he responds, "Honey, it was ruined when she bought it." Then he snaps his fingers like this for the longest seven seconds of my life.
31.The kids are pissed that the house is such a mess, so the Cat brings in an enormous red crate and reveals the Things, two magical gymnasts whose wide grins can't mask their clearly menacing nature.
Thing 2 has some self-esteem issues when it comes to his name. Naturally.
32.The crate that the Things emerged from apparently contains a high-concept sci-fi third act, and the Cat understandably wants to keep it contained.
33.Story update: The Things wreck the house, and Conrad picks the magical lock that the Cat uses to lock his crate of plot devices. The lock, being magical, attaches itself to the dog's collar, and the dog makes a run for it. Something bad will happen if the crate opens, and the only thing that will stop the crate from opening is the lock, so the Cat suggests murder.
34.Alec Baldwin update: He's secretly a slob, and his TV just got repossessed.
35.Who is the intended audience for this joke?
36.I'll wait for a moment while you try to guess what could possibly be going on in this sequence of images.
37.This is sort of funny. I guess. It's more cute than funny. And is it just product placement for Hummers? That's not good. I don't know anymore. Where am I?
38.I like to think that this is the moment where a young Dakota Fanning realized her parents and agents made a terrible mistake in signing her up for this.
39.Apparently we've entered the "random geographical humor" portion of the film.
40.Nope. I refuse.
41.With Larry in pursuit, the Cat leads the kids to a secret underground Cat in the Hat-themed rave...
...where they encounter Paris Hilton.
Here's a picture of them in the same frame to prove to you that I'm not lying (and prove to myself that it's real).
42.Meanwhile, back at the house, this CGI goop is leaking out of the crate.
43.The Things dress up as cops so that the Cat and the kids can beat Joan and Larry to the house, lock the crate, and restore balance to the universe. Or something.
44.And the family home now looks like what would happen if M.C. Escher sold out.
45.The Cat, Sally, and Conrad use the sleeping Mrs. Kwan as a raft to journey through this house of cold digital sorrow, because every character besides this poor babysitter is clearly a sociopath.
46.Didn't Mike Myers already do this product placement bit in Wayne's World?
47.Conrad manages to close the crate, but the house gets destroyed in the process, and the Cat reveals that he didn't in fact lose his magic hat (oh yeah, the Cat lost his magic hat), but only pretended he did in order to teach the kids some sort of overwritten lesson. Conrad and Sally kick him out, because honestly, the Cat's a dick.
But wait! Someone at Universal noticed that the movie didn't have a theme, so the Cat returns and tells the siblings they learned about having fun responsibly (or something), so he cleans up the house for them.
48.Here's a Lovecraftian hand machine of terrors.
49.The Cat and the Things rebuild the house while Smash Mouth's cover of the Beatles' "Getting Better" plays in the background.
50.Final Alec Baldwin update: Before the crate got closed, the Cat tried to murder him (classic Cat!) by pushing him off the ledge and into the river of sci-fi goo. Joan dumps him for being a purple weirdo, and the children rejoice.
51.The Cat in the Hat concludes by turning one of its few actually whimsical aspects — the rhyming narrator — into another cheap joke.