<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Malina Weissman, Christopher Walken, Robbie Amell, Cheryl Hines, Mark Consuelos, Talitha Bateman
Running Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
There used to be a time in the 80s when talking pets and transference was a popular Hollywood theme. And they were fun. Nine Lives is not.
I remember films like Shaggy DA and Cat from Outer Space. Our furry friends taking on lead roles and voiced by great talent. No CGI in sight. Just good ol’ direction, acting and dialogue as well as awesome animal trainers. Now, nobody gives a damn. Just use CGI and make the film look like a bad cartoon.
In Nine Lives – the movie has nothing to do with nine lives by the way – a billionaire tycoon called Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is too busy making the tallest building in the northern hemisphere to take care of his wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughter (Malina Weissman). He finally tries to be a good parent by buying his young one a cat for her birthday but a mystical cat-shop owner (Christopher Walken) quickly sums up what a bad dad he is and orchestrates a soul transfer. Tom’s body is in a coma but he’s in the cat!
Used to be a time when those funny kitty videos on YouTube entertained us while we were busy doing nothing in office since our colleagues were wasting time, thereby keeping us waiting till late even though we had finished our work. But Nine Lives isn’t a funny cat video. It’s a terrible, awful catastrophe of a film. The cat’s antics are hardly funny. The fact that Tom had neglected his family isn’t properly set up. Everything seems fine at the Brand household. In fact, the smiling Malina Weissman as his daughter looks a picture of health and happiness.
And then, when it comes time for the cat to comfort the family so his soul can go back to his body, even then there’s barely any emotion or heart in it. It’s all just a series of CGI gags and slapstick nonsense. Kevin Spacey barely has screen time and even his voice talent is underutilised with the filmmakers choosing to let the cat ‘meow’ and ‘purr’ through whole scenes in the film.
Robbie Amell as Tom’s son from his first wife manages to show some sign that the movie has real actors in it. Even Weissman does a decent job. The cat however, is an abomination of CGI, thoroughly inexcusable in this day and age of cutting-edge technology. Clearly a case of very little money and poor script writing.