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By Admin | August 13, 2004

Reading the title, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Ah, a Dr. Suess joke.” Well, you’d be wrong.

Okay, you’d be right. What we’ve got here is a short film, spoken entirely in rhyme, featuring a character called Wizzit, who at one point intones, “What do I look like? A cat in a hat?”

So yes, it’s a Dr. Suess joke.

Specifically, it’s a Dr. Suess joke about a boy and a girl named Sammy and Tammy. They’re bored with their toys, they don’t want to play outside, and all of their friends are sick with the flu.

Everyone except Simon Thaddeus Mulberry Pew. (Yes, those two lines rhyme. I don’t think there’s any way around it on this one.)

So, Simon shows up, and wants to play, but only with his toys and only in the way that he feels is appropriate. Sammy and Tammy, not pleased with this arrangement, devise a scheme to trick Simon into giving his toys up to them.

Simon ends up dead. This shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s in the title.

At this point, Wizzit shows up and tries to give them a hand with taking care of the body.

Carefully metered hijinks ensue.

What’s most impressive about this film is that it actually takes its premise and goes all the way with it. While the idea of presenting a murder mystery with Suessian overtones sounds like it would grate, and quickly, this one is clever enough to make it enjoyable.

For one, the actors genuinely came to play. With the exception of the cat in the hat gag, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that all their lines are metered. The direction is more than solid, and makes the most of the single room in which the entire film takes place.

My own favorite touch is the fact that while the film is shot in black and white, the Wizzit appears in color. Even cooler, when he hands an object to another character, the color slowly drains from it.

But, while it’s a Dr. Suess gag, it ain’t Dr. Suess. A couple of rhymes and meters go off course, and the ending is, well, a bit coarse. (Rhymed again.) But these are minor quibbles.

As for the DVD itself, in addition to the film are two interviews, one with the production staff and one with the cast. Both are funny and at least a little informative, telling the story of how a forty-minute stage play became a twenty-minute short film that eventually went to over 100 film festivals.

Most amusingly, Armin Shimerman (yes, he looks familiar, he was Quark on Star Trek Deep Space Nine, as well as Principal Snyder on Buffy The Vampire Slayer) confesses how relieved he was to find out that Sammy and Tammy would not be played by actual children. Not because of the very adult humor, but because he just doesn’t like working with children.

All in all, it’s done with reverence and joy, and is certainly a great deal more fun than the real big-screen Suess offerings available. And it’s much, much less suitable for children.

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