Directed by Bo Welch, starring Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin, Amy Hill and Sean Hayes.

In the 'Austin Powers...' series, Mike Myers wore a wig of shaggy chest hair. For 'The Cat in the Hat' he goes further, rendered almost unrecognisable as a large, furry, mayhem-causing cat. It's not a good move. Like Jim Carrey discovered in a previous Dr Seuss adaptation, 'The Grinch that Stole Christmas', big-name comedian plus high production values does not necessarily a good movie make. But that film found its market and, undoubtedly, with children needing to be entertained during the Easter break, 'The Cat in the Hat' will too.

Brother and sister Conrad (Breslin) and Sally (Fanning) are home alone on a rainy day, apart from a narcoleptic babysitter (Hill) and a set of rules from their harried single mother (Preston). They're bored - but only until the six-foot talking cat in the red-and-white hat appears and proceeds to create chaos by way of having fun. But the kids also have to deal with sleazy neighbour and would-be father Laurence (Baldwin as a yellow-tracksuited baddie), a runaway dog and the fact that their mother's irrational boss Mr Humberfloob (Hayes) will attend a party at the house that very night. 

The set is amazing - a lilac-coloured Stepford neighbourhood - and there are also some wonderful gadgets including a Kupkake-inator (for making purple cupcakes), Phunometer (to measure the children's fun quotient) and the Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger, a vehicle otherwise known as SLOW. But, despite the visual splendours, 'The Cat in the Hat' is intensely irritating. When Myers isn't making like Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion from 'The Wizard of Oz', he's pretending to be Topcat, neither to good effect. With a script that is both more knowing and moralistic than it should be, the film substitutes goo, burps and farts for the famed wit of Dr Seuss.

There are precious few laughs and less charm. Do yourself a favour and send the kids on their own. At least you'll have 82 minutes of peace.

Caroline Hennessy