Before I went into this movie the one thing I knew about it was that it was the only feature length movie that Dr. Seuss ever wrote. I was guessing that it wasn’t going to be anything like the Cat in the Hat movie that came out a few years ago, because there was no way there would be something so manic and head-achey directly from Dr. Seuss himself… but what was it going to be like?
It turned out to be what would happen if Willy Wonka and Plan 9 From Outer Space had a baby. It’s whimsical world building is very Wonka-ish – most of the movie is an extended dream sequence about a little boy whose evil piano teacher is going to chain him to a piano that’s long enough to seat 500 kidnapped children, and there’s a similar feeling of legitimate childhood anxiety being expressed in a fantastical environment. But the evil piano teacher had an odd strained voice that reminded me of Criswell, many of the sets looked kind of flat because the cinematography was extremely clumsy, and while a lot of the inventions felt like well imagined kid’s story ideas, a lot of them felt like bad 50’s sci-fi claptrap.
It ended up being an interesting mixture of the inspired and the half-assed. Parts of it were clearly inspired by German Expressionism, which I always like, but other parts of it felt like “we didn’t have the budget to build everything we wanted, so instead, we’re using a cut-out as if it was a building.” It didn’t have enough energy or verve that I would think it could really hold a modern child’s attention for it’s running time, but it also had enough of a singular point of view that it can’t be written off completely for an adventurous adult viewer.
However, if I’m being honest I have to say that it’s lack of energy did lull me to sleep for a few minutes in the middle, so the only rating I can give it is:
No Contest (both the cat and I slept)