David Newman,
The Cat in the Hat
(Decca, 2003)

In this original score composed and conducted by David Newman, the cat's not "in" but "out" of the hat. While this cunning and mischievous cat behaved enough for a children's book character in Dr. Seuss's original easy-reader, The Cat in the Hat, he seems to have fallen through the cracks and forgotten his role (to entertain children) in both the movie and its accompanying soundtrack.

The question that lies first and foremost on my mind is, is this movie soundtrack (inspired by a children's book and based upon a supposed children's movie) made for children? The music is lively and captures the spirit of the reconstructed (made to appeal to adults, as well) wolf in cat's clothing, but it does not seem to offer much in the way of appeal for children.

With the exception of three songs ("Getting Better," "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Clean Up") the line-up contains instrumentals. The first of the songs, "Getting Better," is a remake of a Beatles tune by Smash Mouth. (What age group are we trying to appeal to here, 17 year olds?!?!) While the Beatles have several tunes that have become popular with children, this is not one of them. "Fun, Fun, Fun," one of the more fun songs sung to a calypso beat, still falls short of the audience with adult humor about a fish peeing where he eats, to name just one inappropriate reference (not to mention lyrics "...a bug up her ass"). "Clean Up," at 22 seconds, is over before any pain or embarrassment sets in.

All in all, I do think that Newman perfectly parallels the playful (in adult terms) tone of the movie and that the performance of the tracks proves excellent. But do we really need any more evidence that an impostor cat has jumped right out of the pages of Dr. Seuss's acclaimed children's book and landed at our doorstep with his foul mouth and lewd expressions/gestures?

And now, the cat's really out of the bag.

- Rambles
written by Lynne Remick
published 25 April 2004

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