It’s awful, but it’s not as awful as you fear it will be. That’s just about the only positive thing I have to say about “Nine Lives,” the new ‘comedy’ from director Barry Sonnenfeld. I wish the film had taken a more ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek approach to amp up its preposterous premise but instead it aims for a sincere, heartwarming tale with just too much stupidity thrown in for it to work on a campy level.
Billionaire businessman Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is ruthless in his pursuit of being the biggest and best. When his workaholic ways get in the way of — wait for it — spending quality time with his loving family (Jennifer Garner and Malina Weissman), Tom decides to buy his daughter a cat for her birthday. Felix (Christopher Walken) is a creepy, weird old coot who runs the Purrkins Pet Shop (groan). Some mishaps occur and Tom finds himself in a coma — and his soul trapped in the body of the kitty, Mr. Fuzzypants.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next.
Something that really bothered me is that the movie misses a prime opportunity to speak out in favor of animal adoption. Instead of showing Tom going to the local shelter, the cat is purchased at a pet shop. At least he takes an older cat, but the animal is portrayed as a gift and not a truly loved member of the family. Mr. Fuzzypants is ultimately treated as disposable and replaceable, and several little kids were wailing towards the end of the film (no spoilers here but let’s just say the cat makes use of his nine lives).
If you think the story sounds bad, wait ’til you get a load of the dreadful visual effects. Clearly the animation department didn’t care about their craft and slapped the CGI together as half-assed as possible. It’s jarring to see a real animal turn into an animated animal in the span of 3 seconds, and it’s even more awkward when the cats don’t even look the same! The animators couldn’t bother to do a passable job so the ‘fake’ cat looks absolutely terrible in every single frame. In each scene he’s jumping around, making ridiculous faces, and slamming / running / jumping into walls / cabinets / furniture ad nauseam. All of the lunkheads in my audience, from kids to the elderly, responded to these lowbrow pratfalls with roars of laughter. You can’t say the movie doesn’t deliver the goods to its core audience.
I’m embarrassed that I purchased a ticket so I could review this movie because that’s another undeserved $12 sale towards its box office gross, but the actors across the board should especially feel shame for their participation in this mess. Yes, even the ones who are currently surviving in Hollywood only by scraping the bottom of the acting barrel (Jennifer Garner, I’m talking to you). Christopher Walken doesn’t seem to know where he is or what he’s doing half of the time so he’s forgiven due to his age. Garner and Walken I can understand, but Kevin Spacey? Why oh why did you agree to do this?
Matt was unavailable for review.