Nine Lives (2016)

  • Time: 87 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Family | Fantasy
  • Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
  • Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Walken, Robbie Amell


A stuffy businessman finds himself trapped inside the body of his family’s cat.

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  • Nine Lives stars Kevin Spacey as Tom Brand, a monstrous millionaire with a penchant for putting his name on buildings, neglecting his patient wife and adoring daughter, firing people who don’t kowtow to his wishes, and for whom bragging is breathing. Sound familiar? Trumpian overtones aside, Brand’s Freaky Friday-esque body swap with a shaggy gremlin of a cat is a terrible film from start to finish, inducing groans instead of laughs and making one wonder how desperate its stars must be for a paycheck if they’re willing to associate themselves with this dreck.

    Spacey can be a wickedly comic actor, but he already seems to be dead on arrival the moment Brand skydives from his plane and onto the rooftop of his latest building, which is being billed as the tallest skyscraper in America. Except there’s a building in Chicago that is beating them by 60 feet, but Brand barely notices since he’s too busy telling his son David (Robbie Amell) to man up, ignoring his second wife Lara’s (Jennifer Garner) phone calls, forgetting his daughter Rebecca’s (Malina Weissman) birthday gift, and swatting away company board member Ian Cox’s (Mark Consuelos) attempts to take the company public.

    A freak accident puts Brand in a coma and his spirit into the cat he has reluctantly purchased for Rebecca’s birthday. No one can hear him talking except for the mysterious pet shop owner/cat whisperer Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken) from whom he got the cat. As Walken is always a delight even in such execrable dross, it might have been more entertaining to build a movie around Walken pronouncing “Mister Fuzzypants” and other such cat names in his singular way. Alas, we’re stuck instead with Brand trying to wreak havoc – peeing on rugs and in the expensive handbag of his ex-wife Madison (Cheryl Hines), leaping up and slamming himself against a bookcase in order to access a decanter of 50-year-old Scotch, and other unamusing inanities – before realising what a neglectful husband and father he has been.

    Nine Lives begins with a montage of cat videos and the appeal of those videos lies in the fact that these are real cats doing strange and silly things. Which is why one of the many problems Nine Lives has is the CGI cat used for the convoluted shenanigans that a real cat could never be directed to perform on cue. The CGI antics are actually off-putting, perhaps even more so than the witless gags and punchlines that a total of five – five! – credited screenwriters came up with.

    It bears repeating how truly awful Nine Lives is and the depths of its atrociousness are even more puzzling considering the talent involved. It boggles the mind why Garner would degrade herself as Lara is nothing more than a dimensionless character that is called upon to look pretty when not chasing after the cat. Director Barry Sonnenfeld – well, the less said about his amateurish work here, the better.

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