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Sally, Dakota Fanning, and Conrad, Spencer Breslin, are a pair of uptight, obnoxious children, whose Mom, Kelly Preston, works for a thoroughly unpleasant, hygienically fixated, real-estate agent, Sean Hayes, and is dating an overbearingly boorish man, Alec Baldwin. While Mom's away, having instructed the kids to keep the house spotless because she's entertaining clients that evening, and the baby-sitter's asleep, the kids receive a visit from the Cat in the Hat, Mike Myers, who sets about creating absolute mayhem. Though The Cat In The Hat wasn't nearly as successful at the American box-office as the last Hollywood movie inspired by a Dr. Seuss book, The Grinch, it's a lot more interesting. The production design is extremely inventive (first-time director Bo Welch is a former production designer, whose credits include Edward Scissorhands), and once you accept the extreme artificiality of it all, there's a lot to enjoy, mainly in the ebullient Mike Myer's often hilarious impersonation of the celebrated cat. The slapstick is well staged, there are plenty of in-jokes to keep adults happy, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. Devotees of the rather slim book may recoil at some of the amendments and additions made here, but I think Theodore S. Geisel, alias Dr. Seuss, would have approved.

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