Would anyone blame me if this review consisted of the phrase “Kevin Spacey is a talking cat, and Christopher Walken comes along and does Christopher Walken things”, and then ended with a 1/5 at the bottom? An unprofessional review, you say? Well surely a film that features Christopher Walken using the phrase “poopy-box” repeatedly deserves nothing less. However never let it be said that when times were dire that this reviewer did not stand and perform his duty. So, without further ado, let us analyse Nine Lives starring two time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey as Mr Fuzzypants and Academy Award winning Christopher Walken as Felix (sigh) Perkins.
Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a workaholic businessman with an unquenchable desire to build the tallest building in the Northern Hemisphere, seemingly unwilling to realise that it looks like he’s desperately attempting to compromise for something. His constant business mindset has led to a fractured relationship with his grown up son, Ian (Robbie Amell), his second wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and his young daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman). Having forgotten to get a present for his daughter’s 11th birthday he quickly stops off at the pet store of Felix Perkins (Walken) to get her a cat, despite his venomous distaste for felines. However this is no ordinary pet store, this is a pet store with Christopher Walken doing Christopher Walken things in it. Naturally, Spacey ends up in the body of Mr Fuzzypants and is tasked by Walken with reassessing his life and fixing the broken family dynamic he’s left in his wake. Think of it as a cross between Gremlins, It’s a Wonderful life and the fever dreams of a second-rate film producer with abnormally severe concussion.
Nine Lives is awful. A torrid, poorly written vehicle attempting to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Pee jokes, awful cat puns and acting so wooden you could probably assemble an IKEA wardrobe out of the ensemble cast. Can it even pass as a low-grade film for young children? Not really, due to a third act sub-plot revolving around the possible suicide attempt of a supporting character. The Movie’s tone is so inconsistent that you’re left not knowing whether to laugh, cry, call the emergency services or find a local neighbour to slap you until you wake up from what has to be some sort of nightmare triggered by eating some off cheese. Spacey appears happy enough, having to film only a few scenes before spending a week or two in a recording booth on his way to the bank to deposit whatever he was paid for this monstrosity. Walken looks lost and confused in most films, but here it can only be assumed he was found wandering the back alleys near to the set and was wrangled in by a teamster. Amell is charmless and boring, but to be fair so would anyone in the role. The only saving grace of the film is Jennifer Garner, who really tries her best. Whereas Spacey spends the majority of the film in a recording booth, Garner herself has to spend the bulk of the picture interacting with the cat, CG and real, and manages to somehow escape this film with her reputation intact. It won’t win plaudits but her professional display contrasts with the autopilot-like performance of Spacey.
Nine Lives is an odd creation. Director Barry Sonnenfeld is a respected director with an impressive filmography. Presumably he’s in monumental debt to the Mafioso, one can only hope that this was enough to balance the books. It’s not worth your time, not even if you have young kids. Nine lives wasn’t enough for this film.
Dir: Barry Sonnenfeld
Scr: Gwyn Lurie, Matt R Allen, Caleb Wilson, Daniel Antoniazzi, Ben Shiffrin
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Garner, Robbie Amell, Mark Consuelos, Malina Weissman
Prd: Lisa Ellzey
DOP: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Music: Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine
Country: France, China
Run Time: 87 minutes
Nine Lives is out DVD and Blu-ray from 12th December.