Starring: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Walker
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Running Time: 87 mins
Nine Lives is an American film about a pompous businessman who finds himself in the body of the cat he just bought for his daughter’s birthday.
I never expected this film to be good. The trailers made it look truly terrible, but I was at least hoping for an entertaining so-bad-it’s-good vibe. However, Nine Lives strays into that unspoken, hellish territory of being both awful and tedious. It’s a comedy with no laughs, a kids’ film with no heart, and countless misplaced ideas and themes that make it feel as if the filmmakers were actively trying to make an appalling movie.
However, we start with the best thing about this film, and that’s the performances. On the whole, they’re terrible, and the A-list cast puts in a collectively shocking turn, but there are flickers of the best charisma from the leads that do provide some moments of enjoyment.
Before he’s turned into a cat, Kevin Spacey puts in a watered-down Frank Underwood-like performance, although once the big twist of fate occurs, there’s nothing for him to do, whilst Jennifer Garner is given a hugely dull character throughout, although she doesn’t do much to jazz the role up anyway.
Now, that’s the best part of Nine Lives, because the rest is almost universally atrocious. Above all, the most glaring and frustrating thing about this film is that it’s so, so boring at every moment. Mediocre kids’ movies can often be dull, but that’s largely due to poor comedy, so it’s a real marvel when a film like this manages to bore you to death with financial, legal and business jargon.
That’s right, for the first fifteen minutes of this children’s movie, we spend more time in the boardroom listening to businessmen discuss the financial benefits and disadvantages of Kevin Spacey’s desire to build North America’s tallest building, with not even an attempt at comic relief (apart from the utterly hilarious pun: “this is a ‘bored’ meeting”), starting the film off on a terrible footing, and setting up for 70 more minutes of tedium.
Once the body swap with the cat happens, we’re subjected to a constant pounding of ugly CGI attempting to disguise itself as comedy. The story goes completely down the toilet as Kevin Spacey/the cat ‘tries’ to prove he cares for his family, and all that’s left is countless shots of a cat crashing into things or urinating in handbags, which really isn’t funny (especially after more than one instance).
That’s what makes this film so dull, but there’s one more sting in the tail that cements this as an almost legendarily bad movie. Not only is it not a funny kids’ movie, but for some reason, it decides to delve into suicide. I won’t spoil how this comes about for anyone wanting the same shock value, but suffice to say that there is an inappropriately dark scene in which it all looks as if a major character is going to jump from a huge skyscraper to their death. It is a kids’ movie, so nothing terrible comes of it, but there was a moment where my jaw dropped to the floor such was the insanity of that sequence.
Overall, Nine Lives is appalling. I didn’t laugh once, I was bored from start to finish, and its visuals are horrifically ugly. Its A-list cast does pretty much nothing to save it from being so awful, and it strays into one of the most unbelievably bad finales you’ll ever see. So, of course, Nine Lives gets a 2.0 from me.