Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Starring: Kevin Spacey (voice), Jennifer Garner, Robbie Amell, Christopher Walken
Kevin Spacey as a cat; what more do you want? I’m going to warn you now (spoiler alert), I liked this film. Despite every single member of the film community on Twitter telling me this was a bad film, I liked it. I like cats. I like Kevin Spacey. So what’s not to like about ‘Nine Lives’?
Firstly, ‘Nine Lives’ got me feeling nostalgic. They really don’t make them like this anymore. It reminded me of ‘Beethoven’ – a film about a naughty but lovable St Bernard dog who brought a family together, despite cranky Charles Grodin’s protestations. It also reminded me of the classic ‘Vice Versa’, which some (silly) people see as a lesser version of ‘Big’. It basically reminded me of being poorly, on my sofa, between the ages of around 8-12, and being comforted by a delightful family film. And I would recommend this film to a child of a similar age today, for a rainy afternoon’s entertainment.
Secondly, ‘Nine Lives’ is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld – director of two excellent ‘Addams Family’ films, two excellent ‘Men in Black’ films, ‘Get Shorty’, a few episodes of ‘Pushing Daisies’ (an excellent TV show) and…let’s not mention ‘Wild Wild West’. His sense of playfulness and humour definitely run through into this film, and it’s clear to see that he is having fun with it.
Thirdly, ‘Nine Lives’ does have an impressive cast – Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Christopher freakin’ Walken, and a really hot guy (Robbie Amell) as Spacey’s son. Spacey ain’t phoning this performance in either – he looks like he’s relishing it. I love imagining him flitting between the sets of ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Nine Lives’ – I’m sure it provided some much-needed light relief for him. Christopher Walken is as delicious as always as the mysterious owner of the pet shop where Mr Fuzzypants is purchased, and who seems intent on teaching Tom Brand (Spacey) a valuable life lesson.
Brand is a billionaire business owner, trying to build the tallest building in New York. He neglects his wife and daughter, and all his daughter wants for her birthday is cat. In a bizarre “accident”, Brand’s body ends up in a coma in hospital, but his mind and personality end up in the cat. Cue many entertaining scenes in which Mr Fuzzypants gets drunk, refuses to eat cat food or use the litter tray and generally plays havoc with the family and their home.
Yes, I am an adult human woman, and I went to see this film (voluntarily) with another adult human woman, and we both laughed out loud on more than one occasion watching this film. There is room in my life for Powell and Pressburger, Pedro Almodovar, David Lean and now, there is room in my life for ‘Nine Lives’. Much has been said about 2016 being a woeful year for film, and in a year which contains ‘Batman v Superman’ (a film I really detested), I would agree to some extent. Put it this way – I know which film I would rather see again. I may be hounded off Twitter after this review. Hell, I may be hounded off this very website (if this should be my film criticism swansong, then I bid you goodbye dear reader), but I have no regrets. My name is Fiona Underhill and I liked ‘Nine Lives’.