Nine Lives Review: Meow This Cat-Tastrophe Is Purrfectly Clawful, I’m Pawsitive
Surprise, this movie is bad. It’s very, very bad. I don’t even know where to begin but I have no idea how a movie with a thirty million dollar budget, none of which shows in its lifeless, dull sets and monotonous and by-the-numbers cinematography, managed to snag Kevin Spacey AND Jennifer Garner and fuck it up so spectacularly. Christopher Walken is also in this, but he’s been making questionable decisions for quite some time now and is essentially playing the exact same “I have random powers and you’ll learn a valuable life lesson from me” role from the Adam Sandler film Click. Wouldn’t matter if he put as much incomprehensible heart into it as Al Pacino did in Jack and Jill, this movie cannot be saved.
Tom Brand (Spacey) is basically an asshole. He runs some kind of multimillion-dollar business with his name and face plastered all over it, is a dick to everyone, and loves money and not his family. It’s a character you’ve seen fifty times before and it does nothing new with it. He makes fun of his son for not being “man enough” to go skydiving two times within the first twenty minutes. His son, who works for him, seeks approval anyway and no one really understands why. Brand is building the largest tower in the northern hemisphere or something. We spend a lot of time with him at work berating people about the construction of the tower, not wanting the company go public and just being a general jackass, all things kids definitely want to see and are into. He later stops at a weird pet shop, run by Walken’s character and self-proclaimed cat whisperer, to buy his daughter an animal he hates for her upcoming birthday. During an interview for the film, Garner said a bunch of words about the premise that sounded about as well thought out as the script itself. But hey, Spacey didn’t do any promotion, so someone had to bite the bullet and sling this shit.
“And he had bought this cat from Christopher Walken. So if–that tells you there’s gonna be something wacko and magical and wonderful in the film as soon as you see Chris Walken.”
One of the trailers for this film, and yes there are multiple trailers for some reason, shows Walken shooting some kind of energy ball from his hand and changing Brand INTO a cat. This does not happen, but I almost wish it had because it would have been so outlandish it might have made it better and maybe marginally funny. What actually happens is he goes back to his huge tower to talk to his second-in-command who informs him some outfit from Chicago will have a higher tower by 60 some odd feet. Fucking who cares. Tom Brand sure does and fires him on the spot. It rains a lot and it’s implied that Walken is somehow controlling this. Lightning strikes the building and Brand is now hanging off the ledge. He begs for help and the second-in-command essentially murders him by watching him fall. All because he was fired mere moments ago. Brand somehow falls back into his building and, during his miraculous fall, has his…spirit?…moved into the cat he just bought. Which also survived the fall.
Brand’s body is now in a comatose state and his family doesn’t really seem to care all that much. His son keeps trying to run the business as shady second-in-command guy tries to get the board to make the company go public. Again, kids love this stuff. Brand, now in the cat’s body, is named Mr. Fuzzypants. That’s one of the seven jokes of the film. His name. He also says “really”, “seriously” and “nailed it” at least two times a piece, played again for laughs. There is an arduously long scene where he tries to write a note for help with cat paws, can’t, and so gets drunk on “50 year old Macallan”, stumbles around the house, pisses on the rug, and says disparaging remarks about his ex-wife, a pointless character who appears sometimes. There’s also two grueling scenes of slow motion cat flying through the air, which are later REPLAYED on cell phones as a cheap “cat videos” YouTube joke, even though they were not filmed by anyone when they occurred earlier. Everything is also punctuated with a flat score that feels like it was churned in a weekend by a drunk college student. Here’s the previously discussed pen “scene”.
That’s most of the movie. Disconnected scenes of Mr. Fuzzypants being “funny” and a shitlord to his family that he was already a shitlord to, then doing a complete 180 when the movie demands it. “I should have been a better dad” is an actual line he says, and poorly. Spacey phones in, literally, the entire performance. Garner doesn’t fare much better, and isn’t really given anything to work with anyway. She’s either talking to her daughter about her workaholic dad or directly to the cat about her workaholic husband. On top of that, the film spends an exorbitant amount of time on the office sabotage subplot with Brand’s second-in-command going behind his back and just doing terrible things that the board is totally fine with and doesn’t give a shit about the legality of. Walken shows up occasionally to remind Brand that he needs to reconnect with his family or his actual body will expire, implying again that he has direct control of this mess and he’s some kind of magic asshole who, apparently, has changed a lot of people into cats who didn’t fix whatever problem he deemed so necessary for them to try and repair.
Mr. Fuzzypants also meows a lot, but it’s not actual meowing. It’s just Spacey saying “meow” like a human would. Also the cat’s mouth is never open for it. It just happens anyway. Followed by “I’m a cat!” or him pissing on something he isn’t supposed to. It’s fucking baffling. Most of this is computer generated and it looks horrendous. It belongs in the ’90s and never adds anything to an already tired genre that no one really enjoyed in the first place. Even for a kid-friendly film, there just isn’t anything resembling comedy. I only laughed at the absolute absurdity of me actually viewing this in a theater. This somehow got a wide release, and that fact would creep into my mind while watching Kevin Spacey half-heartedly voicing a CG cat that dances with his daughter at one point.
During the climax, the son decides, from completely nowhere, that he is going to commit suicide by jumping from the tower. There is no hint, at all, that he is depressed or having suicidal thoughts during this film. He just abruptly resolves, since he can’t stop the backstabbing second-in-command guy from selling the company, that he’s going to end it all. But he’ll finally “be a man” because he wears a parachute pack and “skydives” like his father always wanted. Only he doesn’t intent to pull the cord? I don’t know. This scene really happens, he jumps from the building and Mr. Fuzzypants jumps after him, makes a “pull the cord!” motion with his CG cat paws, and then the son survives, somehow, and the cat totally does not. BUT Tom Brand wakes up RIGHT as the cat slams into the fucking concrete, yelling “Meow that hurt!” and no one laughed at all.
The cat is alive though because Walken can do that. He also turns the second-in-command guy into a cat. Walken, really, is the villain here. His powers are out of control and someone needs to rein him in with some Avengers government oversight shit. Honestly, that concept for a movie would be leagues better than Nine Lives. It doesn’t deserve one life. I couldn’t tell you why this happened. Maybe everyone needed a paycheck. Maybe they just wanted to work on something so mind-numbingly easy it could be considered a paid vacation. Regardless, it’s probably the slightest bit more enjoyable to watch than Suicide Squad, a movie so insanely frustrating because of all the squandered potential and inklings of good ideas that were butchered somewhere along the way. Nine Lives was never going to be any good. As Rotten Tomatoes aptly put it: Now meow, not ever.
Anyway, here’s nineteen minutes of behind the scenes footage.