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The Cat in the Hat
Directed by Erica Rivinoja
Arturo A. Hernandez
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Maya Forbes
Wallace Wolodarsky
Erica Rivinoja
Arturo A. Hernandez
Based on The Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss
and The Cat in the Hat
by Bo Welch
Brian Grazer
Alec Berg
David Mandel
Jeff Schaffer
Starring Jack Black
Owen Laramore
Brooklynn Prince
Michael Keaton
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Narrated by Owen Laramore
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Stephen W. Childers
Edited by Vanara Taing
Production
companies
Warner Animation Group
Imagine Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date April 28, 2023
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $95 million
Box office $590 million


The Cat in the Hat (also known as Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat and credited onscreen as such) is a 2023 American computer-animated buddy comedy family film directed by Erica Rivinoja and Arturo A. Hernandez in their directorial debuts and based on the 1957 children's book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. It serves as the third screen adaptation of the story after the 1971 television special starring Allan Sherman and the 2003 live-action film starring Mike Myers, as well as an animated reboot of the 2003 film. The film features the voices of Jack Black, Owen Laramore, Brooklynn Prince, Michael Keaton, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. In the film, two bored kids, a destructive, clumsy troublemaker named Conrad, and his well-behaved but bossy sister invite a magical madcap cat who intends to show them how to have fun while their mother is away. However, when he and his crew, Thing 1 and Thing 2, take over the house, it's up to the mismatched brother and sister duo to put their differences aside in order to set things right.

Produced by the Warner Animation Group and Imagine Entertainment, The Cat In The Hat was released theatrically in the United States on April 28, 2023 by Warner Bros. Pictures, after facing several delays from a planned February 2022 release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the animation, voice acting, and faithfulness to the source material, but criticized the story, writing, and similarities to the 2003 live-action film. However, it was a box office success, grossing $590 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing Dr. Seuss adaptation and the highest-grossing animated film ever released by Warner Bros. The film's success led to a franchise with a spin-off, Thing One and Thing Two, on April 11, 2025, and a sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, on April 10, 2026.

Plot

Conrad (Owen Laramore) and Sally Walden (Brooklynn Prince) live in the city of Anville with their single mother Joan Walden (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who works as a real estate agent for neat-freak Hank Humberfloob (Sean Hayes). Joan is also dating their next-door-neighbor Lawrence "Larry" Quinn (Michael Keaton), much to Conrad's chagrin. One day, Joan is called back to the office, leaving the kids with babysitter Ms. Kwan (Amy Hill) (after the previous one quit) and forbidding them from entering the living room, which is being kept pristine for an office party she is hosting that night, which would result in her dismissal if it is messy.

When she leaves, it gets rainy outside. Sally and Conrad meet an anthropomorphic talking tuxedo cat, the Cat in the Hat (Jack Black) with a red-and-white-striped top hat named the Cat in the Hat, who intends to teach them how to have fun, although the family fish (Bill Hader) does not want the Cat around when Joan is away. The Cat leaves a trail of fun and releases two troublemaking creatures named Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Dee Bradley Baker) from a crate he locks and forbids the children from tampering with. Despite the Cat's warning, Conrad picks the lock, which attaches to the collar of the family dog Nevins (Frank Welker). The Cat, Conrad, and a reluctant Sally then set out to find Nevins and the lock.

Meanwhile, Larry is revealed to be an unemployed slob pretending to be a successful businessman to both marry Joan for her money and send Conrad off to military school for being a "hot-headed troublemaker". Larry sees Nevins running across the street and tracks Joan to tell her. The three drive to the city on the Cat's "Super Luxurious Omni-directional Watchamajigger" (S.L.O.W. for short). They manage to eventually retrieve Nevins but are too late to intercept Joan and Larry. Conrad and Sally have a falling-out in which Sally lashes out at Conrad for his selfish and destructive nature (and his inability to follow rules) and says she wishes he wasn't her brother in the first place, leaving him guilty and heartbroken.

After a while, Conrad suddenly realizes the Things do exactly the opposite of what they are told and uses this to their advantage to have them stall Joan and Larry. An ensuing chase erupts, all the while unnoticed by Joan, who is occupied talking to Things 1 and 2, who have stopped her by posing as police officers. Having deduced what Conrad was plotting, Larry grabs the motorcycle and pursues him and the Cat, telling Joan to meet him at the house. As he gains on them, Sally, having a change of heart, shows up on another motorcycle, intercepts Larry, and reconciles with Conrad.

When they arrive, an enraged Larry cuts them off but sneezes uncontrollably due to his allergic reaction to the Cat. The Cat takes the advantage and scares him away, only for them to find out the house has been turned into a surreal realm called "The Mother Of All Messes", with Larry falling into a gooey purple ocean. Conrad, Sally, and the Cat navigate through the Mother Of All Messes, eventually finding the crate and the "funnel", a purple tornado that is the deadliest part of the Mother of All Messes. Sally is nearly sucked into the funnel's black hole, but Conrad locks the crate and saves his sister's life and the house. The house also returns to normal, but immediately falls apart. After finding out the Cat planned the whole day, Sally and Conrad furiously order the Cat to leave.

Conrad resigns himself to facing the consequences when Joan comes home to which Sally follows suit, having fallen in love with Conrad. The Cat overhears this and returns with an impressive cleaning invention, revealing his planned day was intended to make the kids learn from the errors of their ways, and fixes up the house with the help of Things 1 and 2. The kids reconcile with the Cat, who bids them farewell and departs just as Joan arrives. Covered with goo, Larry arrives at the scene, thinking he busted the kids, tries to tell Joan about everything, but when Joan sees how clean her house is, she does not believe his story and politely breaks up with him. As Sally and Conrad rejoice, they share a kiss. The party becomes a success, and Joan spends quality time with her kids while the Cat and Things 1 and 2 walk off into the sunset.

Cast

  • Jack Black as the Cat in the Hat, a 6-foot tall anthropomorphic wise-cracking tuxedo cat who wears an oversized red bow tie and a magical red and white top hat which reveals many humorous gadgets. Black was the first and only choice for playing the Cat, and, according to a Warner Bros. spokesperson, Rivinoja and Hernandez "wanted the character to be energetic and true to Seuss' source material", so they listened to Black.
  • Owen Laramore as Conrad Walden, Joan's destructive, misbehaved, clumsy, reckless son and the older brother of Sally. He is also the narrator of the film. When Rivinoja and Hernandez discovered Laramore reading the book at a library, they believed his voice sounded neat and asked him if he wanted to voice Conrad. Laramore singed on, saying in an interview that, as a fan of the 2003 film, he was "very delighted to be a part of the project".
  • Brooklynn Prince as Sally Walden, Joan's dull, well-behaved, rule-behaving but somewhat bossy, dull, cynical, no-nonsense tattletale daughter and the younger sister of Conrad.
  • Michael Keaton as Lawrence "Larry" Quinn, the Waldens' pompous, lazy, unemployed next-door neighbor who is allergic to cats, and is determined to both marry Joan to mooch off her wealth and send Conrad to military school to dispose of him.
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Joan Walden, Sally and Conrad's single mother and a workaholic real-estate agent.
  • Bill Hader as the family's somewhat cynical, overcautious, pessimistic family fish.
  • Sean Hayes as Hank Humberfloob, Joan's zero-tolerance boss. He is mysophobic and may seem nice at first glance, but is quick to fire employees for even the smallest infractions (such as shaking his hand, which he does not allow unless washed first as he dislikes germs), often in an extremely loud tone of voice. Hayes reprised his role from the 2003 film.
  • Amy Hill as Ms. Kwan, an overweight, elderly woman who was hired to babysit the kids, but sleeps through her job, which serves as a running gag. Hill reprised her role from the 2003 film.
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Thing 1 and Thing 2, two gibbering trouble-making creatures that the Cat brings with him.
  • Frank Welker as Nevins, the Walden's pet dog. Welker reprised his role from the 2003 film.
  • Clint Howard as Kate the Caterer: Howard reprised his role from the 2003 film.
  • Wally Wingert as Jim McFlinnigan, a new employee of Humberfloob Real Estate who is immediately fired for not washing his hand.
  • Jenna von Oÿ as a secretary who works for Humberfloob Real Estate.

Reception

Box office

The Cat in the Hat opened on April 28, 2023 and grossed $210 million its opening weekend. It ended its theatrical run on July 27, 2023, having grossed $237 million in North America and $353 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $590 million, against a production budget of $95 million. It is the highest-grossing Dr. Seuss film, the highest-grossing Warner Bros. animated film, the highest-grossing animated film produced by Imagine Entertainment, the highest-grossing film produced by the Warner Animation Group, and the seventh animated film of the 2020's to gross more than $400 million worldwide, after Sing 2 (2021), High School Wizard, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Disney In The House: Oceans (all in 2022),The Lego Chima Movie, and Critter Country 3 (both also in 2023).

Critical response

The Cat in the Hat received mixed reviews from film critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 50% approval rating based on 273 reviews. The consensus reads, "It can't quite make up for being excessively similar to the 2003 live-action Mike Myers film, but The Cat in the Hat tries its best to be faithful to Dr. Seuss' work (even if it doesn't exceed expectations), and Jack Black delivers good voice work". On Metacritic, it has a weighted score of 54 out of 100 based on 53 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.

Michael O' Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film three and a half out of five stars, writing, "This colorfully-animated The Cat in the Hat reboot will surely please younger viewers". In a mixed review, Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal went on to say that Jack Black's performance of the titular character was superior to that of Mike Myers, but criticized the animated versions of the 2003 live-action human characters. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mixed review, writing, "While The Cat in the Hat manages to keep both Dr. Seuss' original vision and the 2003 film's quality intact, it doesn't live up to its potential". Conversely, Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic went to on to praise the film as being "so colorful and poignant it may have helped Warner Bros. take steps toward Pixar's emotional resonance".

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