Nine Lives follows Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey), a business CEO who’s an absolute self-centered jerk of a man who, after an accident, is transmitted into the body of a cat that he got for his daughter. Cat-whisperer Christopher Walken tells him that if he wants to become human again, he must reconcile with his wife and kids within the week, since he’s constantly preoccupied with work. Meanwhile, an underling of Brand’s is trying to sell out the company while Brand’s human body is in a coma. Will he learn what’s really important in life? Will he reconnect with his family as never before? Is this movie a cliche mess with no original ideas and cutesy-animals galore? The answer to all of these questions is yes.
Let’s get the few positives out of the way. Christopher Walken is easily the best thing in the movie. His odd delivery and constant whispering give
him a bizarre demeanor, unlike any other actor, which happens to jibe perfectly with his unorthodox character in Nine Lives. He also gets three of the four good laughs in this movie.
Other positives? Uh… Jennifer Garner is cute, I guess.
Let’s face it, this movie was dead on arrival. I literally thought the trailer was a joke trailer from Funny Or Die or College Humor. I thought, “Nobody can seriously make this movie; it’s just so stupid”. But sadly I was wrong. This is obviously just a paycheck film for stars to sustain their luxuries.
The movie doesn’t seem to know who it’s audience is. It panders to kids and middle-aged women, who find cutesy animals funny for some reason. I’m not saying they are the only people who might find the film entertaining, but in my theater, every laugh came from one or both of these demographics. But just what they are finding funny I haven’t the slightest clue. They will laugh at every stupid line, every animal reaction, and all toilet humor. But at the same time, there are tons of corporate-setting scenes that focus on the scheming of Brand’s underling— scenes that are filled with dull business talk that no kid
could enjoy watching . Here, there aren’t any gratuitous jokes thrown in for the grownups; it’s just people talking about what direction they should take the company, legal documents, and votes on what they should do. This is a comedy: Do something funny!!
Most of the jokes fall flat on arrival. The writers tried to create gags, there’s a pause for laughter, and someone from the aforementioned demographic will giggle for some reason… But even then, many jokes that are met with awkward silence from everyone. Nine Lives is so inelegant that even the people who laugh at everything will sometimes even miss a planned punchline.
The film even struggles with its own tone, as the end of the narrative gets insanely dark. Brand’s son is visiting him in the hospital and decides that he’s going to commit suicide because he failed to save his father’s company. I’m thinking, “Oh my god, is this really happening? I can’t believe they’re doing this!” Of course, since this is a by-the-numbers family film, everything turns out fine; yet, it still comes out of nowhere and is an incredibly morbid for a movie about a talking cat.
Now, let’s measure the stupid by some quick scenes that genuinely frustrate me:
- Tom Brand’s wife hangs out with his ex-wife. Is that a thing that ex-wives of business CEOs do? Become best friends with their ex-husband’s current wife?
- They don’t set out a litter box, food, or water until the morning after they bring the cat home—just let it fend for itself and go hungry through the night. Then they put the litter box right next to the food. I don’t even have a cat and I know not to make the cat poop where it eats.
- There are two security guards at the main company who see cat-Kevin Spacey running towards them, who then decide it would be brilliant to taze the cat, video tape it, and put it on “Cat-tube”. Do they think this will lead to something positive? At best, they taze each other. At worst, they get arrested for tazing a cat. Even the kids were looking at this and saying, “Yeah that’s really dumb.”
I can’t believe Tom Brand is the same man from Se7en and House of Cards.
Barry Sonnenfeld is the same director who brought us Men in Black and The Adams Family. I won’t say it’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen, since I laughed four times, which is more that I can say for films like Movie 43 and Master of Disguise, but Nine Lives is still an atrocious thing, that should never have been conceived, let alone written, filmed, and produced. This is 85 minutes of my life that I will never get back. I’ve burned my ticket stub, because when I go through my collection, I don’t want to remember that Nine Lives existed.