Nine Lives is a 2016 fantasy comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and stars Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Walken.
Kevin Spacey plays workaholic father Tom Brand, whose company is in a heated competition to build the tallest skyscraper in the northern hemisphere. Brand works with his son, but his all work no play attitude keeps him distant from his wife and young daughter. His daughter's 11th birthday is coming up, and she wants a cat more than anything for her birthday. Tom despises cats and has never bought her one. Tom eventually gives in to buying a cat since he doesn't want to disappoint her, and he drives to a mysterious pet shop run by a mystifying owner (Walken). Tom buys a cat named Mr. Fuzzypants, but during a freak electrical accident, he finds that his conscious has now been transferred into the cat while his human body is presumably in a coma and is sent to a hospital. Tom as the cat learns from the owner that if he doesn't reconcile with his family, he will remain trapped within the cat's body for the rest of his life.
Oh yikes, how does something like a human-cat body swap attract the attention of big league stars like Spacey and Walken as well as the talented Jennifer Garner? What was the incentive for Men-in-Black director Barry Sonnenfeld to tackle this feline film? My only guess is a nice looking paycheck.
Nine Lives established itself as one of the worst films of 2016 and for good reason. The humor is basically nonexistent and there really is no reason for this film to exist. Maybe it does exist because one of the writers saw The Shaggy Dog and felt that a cat could do the human-pet switch justice. Whatever anyone was feeling, Nine Lives doesn't do anything justice.
I won't try to convince someone that Nine Lives is a film worth watching, because it really is not worth the 87 minutes that it takes to sit through it. But I can't say that I hated the film. It is quite rare for me to, in all seriousness, loathe a film. There are a plethora of films out there that are far worse than Nine Lives.
- Kevin Spacey is mildly amusing as the cat. He makes plenty of sarcastic remarks, though some of his lines might reflect what is going through the minds of people watching this film ("Just drown me", or even "Seriously?").
- The main problem with Nine Lives is that it is completely clueless about its target demographic. A talking cat would lead you to think that this is a kids' film, but scenes with the cat are intermixed with business meetings that no little kid would either understand or care about. If that wasn't enough, on the first night when he's brought home, Kevin Spacey as the cat breaks into his own private liquor/bourbon cabinet and gets himself drunk. What is it about professional business meetings and drinking that make them so suitable for a film centered on a cat? Oh and it doesn't stop there. The cat tries to break into the giant building that is being built, and two security guards there go ahead and try to tase the cat. Now we can add animal cruelty to the list! Need I go on?
Even though Kevin Spacey can provide for some brief chuckles, Nine Lives is simply not funny or worthwhile. The script is backwards and is completely unclear about who the target audience is supposed to be. The fact that I saw this film knowing how bad it was beforehand softened the blow, and boy was I glad to not have to pay to see it in theaters. I did not have the heart to completely hate it, but I can still confidently say that Nine Lives is the equivalent of a gross hair-ball that was spit up by a stray cat and left to rot on the roadside.
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