Citizen Shame: The ‘Cat’ that won’t leave your head

My seventh grade French class is memorable for two things: that time I spilled my entire water bottle on the girl sitting next to me and the relentless screenings of French-dubbed movies.

Maybe it was our class’ fascination with cinema, but it more likely had to do with our teacher’s lack of belief in actual teaching. There isn’t exactly a lot of room for DVDs in a public school budget, so there was also a marked lack of variety. We watched the movies our teacher had, and we watched them often.

Two movies stick out in my memory because of pure volume. First, the haunting family film “My Father the Hero” (1994) brought culture into the classroom because it had like seven words of French and a scene with a thong. Throw in a little vague incest theme? Thanks, teach!

But nothing has quite stayed with me, buried deep in the parts of my mind I try never to access, like the Mike Myers nightmare version of “The Cat in the Hat” (2003). I can only recommend switching on the French dub and sitting there as your mind reacts to the film that literally made Dr. Seuss’ widow shut down all future live adaptations.

Only brilliant minds could have decided to make a live-action version of a story of a cat chilling with two kids for a day, and then hired Shrek to play the cat. The fact that the director, visionary Bo Welch, has yet to direct another movie since this 2003 classic is purely coincidental.

Actors with self-respect appear and seem to slowly realize over the 82-minute runtime the grave mistake they have made for their careers. Oh, and Paris Hilton cameos in a nightclub scene. In a movie about two kids and a talking Shrek-cat. Superb.

The real highlight of the movie is Alec Baldwin as the boyfriend of the children’s mother, disgusting human Larry Quinn. I will always remember sitting in that dark seventh grade classroom, while my teacher ate a KIND Bar and wrote an entry for her yoga blog, watching Alec Baldwin pick something from his belly button. It’s his feature-length audition for a future celebrity impression.

Do you remember the joy of reading the original Dr. Seuss book? The whimsical rainy day adventure? Forget those. Instead, enjoy a bizarre military-school storyline, Jack from “Will & Grace” (1998–present) struggling with germophobia and a post-release controversy in which all involved in production tried to gracefully distance themselves.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never part ways with the voice of the narrator, which sounds like a cross between a person who is far too happy and asbestos. I only hope that you can all go forth and be blessed with this film that is probably similar to what would happen if you gave your weird uncle a camera and $109 million. After watching, you won’t be able to hear The Beatles song “Getting Better” (1967) without hearing the Smash Mouth version that appears to berate the viewers with a lie. Trust me, it’s not getting better.

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