Australian Council on Children and the Media

Cat in the Hat

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Short takes

Parental guidance under 8 (scary material)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cat in the Hat
  • a review of Cat in the Hat completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 April 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Due to the level of scariness in this movie, it is recommended that children under 5 have some parental guidance.
Children aged 5-8 Children aged 5-8 might still need some parental guidance.
Children over the age of 8 Children 8 and over will probably be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Cat in the Hat
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: None
Length 82 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Joan Walden is a single mother of two children, Sally and Conrad. Joan works at Humberfloob Real Estate Agency which is run by an obsessively compulsive Mr. Humberfloob. Joan is successful at her career but Humberfloob is very demanding, expecting her to come in to work at any time. Joan has a neighbour Larry who wants to marry her. He appears to be a successful businessman but that is far from the truth. Also Larry can’t stand Conrad and is forever trying to persuade Joan to send him off to Military School. Joan is called in unexpectedly to work on the day when she has to host an important business party that evening. As a last resort she calls a Mrs. Kwan to baby-sit and forbids the children from going into the lounge room as it must be kept clean.

Once Mrs. Kwan is installed she immediately falls asleep and is totally oblivious to the proceedings of the day. It’s raining outside and Sally and Conrad are bored in their bedroom, when they hear a noise in the closet. They go to investigate and discover the Cat in the Hat. At first they are terrified but soon come to realise that the Cat is not going to hurt them. The Cat measures them both with his ‘phunometer’ which measures how much fun they are. It reveals that Sally is a control freak and Conrad is a rule breaker.

The Cat sets out to amend this situation and the day turns into one of much mayhem and hilarity. The Cat also introduces Thing One and Thing Two who absolutely trash the house. Then Conrad opens the trunk he’s told not to and the house turns into a purple fantasy land. The children are then frantic to find the lock to close the trunk with but Conrad has placed it around the dog’s neck. Their hunt takes them all around the town and Larry gets involved in it too, trying to cause more trouble for Conrad. The day takes some very unexpected turns and Conrad and Sally have to learn to work together.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, mostly set in a comic context, including the following:

  • Conrad slides down the stairs and crashes into a car.
  • The Cat fights with an elephant’s trunk.
  • The Cat flushes the fish down the toilet.
  • The Cat threatens another Cat with a cleaver with which he then chops his own tail off.
  • Thing One and Thing Two fight on the sofa.
  • The babysitter gets dragged down the stairs banging her head continuously. Also she gets hung up in a wardrobe by a clothes hanger.
  • The dog gets thrown out of the window.
  • The Cat hides as a ‘piñata’ and hangs from a rope while the children at a birthday party all beat him with plastic baseball bats. He gets hit in the groin.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Younger children in this age group could be scared by images in this movie. As well as the violent scenes mentioned above children could also be scared by:

  • The Cat; he is quite large.
  • The children being terrified by the Cat; they run away screaming and try to hide, but he keeps popping up next to them.
  • Mrs Kwan is overweight and wears thick rimmed glasses.
  • Conrad being threatened with being sent off to Military School.
  • The Cat changes into various costumes and characters: an exotic dancer, a bullfighter and a celebrity chef.
  • Larry in his own home is a real slob. He takes out his false teeth, removes a body suit to reveal a large hairy stomach, and he picks his nose and belly button.
  • The fantasy world could be quite scary—large flying birds and a purple river down which the children and the Cat ride on Mrs. Kwan.
  • Sally gets caught up in a whirlwind. Conrad tries to save her but he has to let go of her hand.
  • The house crashes all around the children.
  • Larry emerges from a pipe covered in purple goo.

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by scenes mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group would probably not be scared by this movie as they would understand it is just fantasy.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be scared or disturbed by scenes in this movie.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There is one sexual reference when the Cat is looking at a picture of the children’s mother who is quite attractive and wears revealing outfits. His tail and his hat stand up straight.

Nudity and sexual activity

In one scene the Cat bends over with a split in his fur revealing naked buttocks.

Use of substances

Larry drinks beer.

Coarse language

There is one use of the word ‘bloody’.

In a nutshell

The take home message is to find a balance in life and not to be extreme in behaviour, either one way or the other.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • collaboration rather than opposition
  • learning to moderate behaviour
  • exposing deceit
  • acceptance of others

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • disobedience to parents
  • exaggerated behaviour

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