A purrfect film, or smelly kitty litter?
The first question that came to mind after seeing this was why it was so bad. It was clearly never going to be a classic, and no one would have expected that or intended for it to be so. But when you have a talented director like Barry Sonnenfeld making a summer movie with huge talents like Kevin Spacey and Christopher Walken at his disposal, it should at the very least be some innocent fun. Instead, we get a cynical, boring and unfunny film, which completely alienates the demographic it was aimed at (assuming they even had a demographic in mind). I’m glad Spacey had nine lives because this film was dead on arrival.
You would think the saving grace for Nine Lives would be its 87-minute runtime. You would be wrong. The film is so poorly paced that this somehow drags, and they even had to pad it out to reach 87. We get a lazily chucked together opening montage of random, unrelated cat videos. We also get scenes which last aeons too long and add nothing to the plot, like Tom Brand’s – BRAND NEW, GET IT? HAHAHA… I hate this film -, played by Spacey, first night as a cat, or the meandering boardroom scenes. It goes nowhere, jumping between scenes sporadically. If your premise is so thin that you struggle to justify such a minuscule runtime is there any point of even making the film?
Talking about the ‘premise’, this highlights why this is one of the most misguided ‘kids’ films I’ve seen. Instead of being a silly, but somewhat entertaining film, we instead spend large periods of time witnessing painfully tedious boardroom talk, and a weirdly phallic and egotistical plot about building the tallest tower. At least the cat moments, whilst pandering, could be somewhat fun for a child, but there is no way a kid could care for a second about this other plotline. On top of that, we get a dark insinuation that Brand’s son, David, is going to commit suicide! Okay, he doesn’t. But still, the insinuation itself doesn’t belong in a kid’s film. Somehow the ludicrously overused cliche of a failing dad who must redeem himself with his kid is the best part of this film. Who was this made for? People who have never seen a film before?
The script is so awful that you almost feel sorry for the actors. They didn’t have to take this film on though, and the performances we get are so bad that the script cannot be fully blamed. Spacey’s acting at the very least is so unenthusiastic that you can’t feel embarrassed for him, but the performances from Malina Weissman and Jennifer Garner are mortifying. Not one line was delivered with sincerity. Garner’s hilariously nonchalant reaction to her husband coming out of a coma sums this up. It’s not just the acting that is artificial, however. Every joke is forced and lacking any creativity (Walken’s character is called Purrkins and runs a pet shop. Ha…), the film is littered with ugly CGI and mise-en-scene, as well as choppy cinematography and editing. And then we have the 2D, unrelatable, dull characters. There is not a single person we can relate to, and therefore we can’t care about them. Even the characters designed as shallow and mean-spirited, Madison and Nicole, aren’t any worse than anyone else. Weissman’s character even complains that her comatose father didn’t get her a kitten! How can we root for these characters? The attempts to make kids relate to them are so unsubtle. Whether it be the ‘Smile for Instagram!’ line, the irritating ‘Talking Tom’ app, or the shameless Apple product placement, the filmmakers showed their horrible ineptitude throughout.
This film is just cheap and manipulative. It’s one of those where you can tell that it’s made by an old man in a suit with no idea of what kids like. No one seemed to care a bit about the quality of this film. It’s merely a cynical movie made to get a few bucks for the filmmakers, and they even failed at that. The only thing you could say in defence of this film is that it’s intriguing in a WHAT AM I WATCHING kind of way. It’s entertaining in an almost sadistic manner to see Spacey and Walken suffer through this mess. I just hope that the humiliation of starring in this was worth the pay-check. All I know is that I nearly used up a life battling through this film.