If you’ve seen the trailer for Nine Lives, the latest family feature from Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld, you’ll know that the voiceover guy boastfully claims that the film features “Kevin Spacey, as you’ve never seen him before”. I can only assume that he means desperate for a big pay cheque, because the Oscar-winner’s latest has to be the all-time low of his career.
Here, he plays a Trump-like businessman whose ego and work takes precedent over his family life. In an attempt to prove his love for his daughter, he decides to buy her the one gift she wants more than anything in the world, and ends up buying a cat from a pet shop owned by a kooky Christopher Walken (is there any other kind of Walken these days?).
It’s this cat, named Mr. Fuzzypants, which Spacey’s stuffy-entrepreneur finds his soul transported into, after taking a tumble from the top of a building. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Walken’s ‘cat-whisperer’ shows up to tell the new Mr. Fuzzypants that, unless he changes his selfish ways, he is destined to spend the rest of his life (lives) as a cat.
Every bit as awful as its synopsis, the film peaks within its first five-minutes with a series of viral YouTube clips of cats doing a variety of silly things. Each of these ten-second videos is one-million times funnier than anything that follows in the film’s following 80-minutes, which largely consists of a cat falling around and hurting itself whilst screeching and wailing incessantly, to the point where I honestly feared my ears were going to start bleeding – Spacey himself says it best in the film, when be screams “meowch”.
The fact that the ‘comedy’ is so lazy isn’t even the worst part of the film – nor are the dreadful performances from the entirety of its cast, cats excluded- it’s the fact that story is devoid of any magic and/or fun. There are a number of scenes at the beginning of the film in which Spacey, pre-cat, has meetings with the board about how he wants to have the tallest building in North America; scenes which are so utterly dull that it eventually got to the point where my fiancée turned to me and said “why doesn’t he hurry up and turn into a cat already”.
Now, I know that a twenty-eight-year-old man is hardly the target demographic for a film such as this, and, in its defence, the younger audience I saw this with seemed to find it hilarious in places. But at a time where studios such as Pixar and Laika have enriched the way stories are told in family films, Nine Lives is like a fast food equivalent. Your children may enjoy it, but it certainly isn’t good for them – especially when there’s better options for the whole family (see Finding Dory or Swallows and Amazons) which would prove much more rewarding. Avoid this at all costs.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com