Nine Lives” is just as bad as you think it would be.
Have you ever thought a movie sounded like a bad idea, but watched it anyway? Sometimes those movies end up being great, like the remake of “21 Jump Street.”
Others are just as bad as they look, like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” and some are so bad they’re entertaining, like “The Room.”
Thankfully, because of the surprisingly A-List cast dealing with a terribly clichéd script, “Nine Lives” falls into the final category: it’s so ridiculous and bad that it’s pretty funny.
The story of “Nine Lives” sounds like something that would be a fake trailer on an episode of “South Park” or “The Simpsons.”
The film tells the tale of Tom Brand, played by Kevin Spacey, a high-powered businessman who is obsessed with building the tallest skyscraper in North America.
He continually berates his overworked son, played by former “The Flash” star Robbie Amell, and never has time for his second wife and youngest daughter, played by Jennifer Garner and Malina Weissman.
When his daughter’s birthday comes around, she only wants one gift from Tom, outside of him actually spending time with her: a cat.
So, Tom arrives at Felix Purr-kins’ pet shop, a cat-filled store run by a cat whispering Christopher Walken. Through some unspecified magic, Tom’s body goes into a coma, and his mind is placed inside the cat.
Now Tom has to learn how to love his family better and save his company from being sold, while looking at the world through his new cat eyes.
Seriously, that’s the film’s actual story. It sounds like a lazy mess that a writer would create because he ran into his boss in the bathroom, and the boss asked how the new family comedy script was coming along.
That level of laziness isn’t only in the story, but it also permeates almost every other aspect throughout the rest of the film. This is shown immediately as the opening credits begin.
Not only are the credits themselves presented in one of the most ridiculed fonts of all time, Comic Sans, but also the sequence isn’t even presented with original footage.
Instead of putting the credits over scenes that were shot for the movie, they’re over cat videos straight from YouTube.
Have you ever seen the video of the cat in a shark costume riding a Roomba around a kitchen? Well the producers of “Nine Lives” hope you haven’t and don’t mind watching it with the phrase “featuring CHRISTOPHER WALKEN” in the top left corner of the screen.
What makes the laziness of “Nine Lives” so shocking is the director. While director Barry Sonnenfeld isn’t exactly a household name, he has directed some wonderfully creative and fun movies, such as the two live-action “Addams Family” films, the “Men in Black” movies and the first two episodes of the woefully short-lived TV series “Pushing Daisies,” His films and TV shows usually are full of charm, humor and beautiful sets and shots, but none of that is visible in “Nine Lives.”
The sets are bland boardrooms and wealthy houses, and they are usually vacant, so a blatantly CGI house cat can run around and get into shenanigans. It feels like Sonnenfeld just wanted a paycheck and nothing else.
Even the cat’s shenanigans feel phoned in, containing sequences that feel like they were cut from a live-action “Garfield” movie.
While the sequences feel uninspired, some can be ridiculous to the point of being hysterical, like when Tom in the cat’s body becomes desperate to feel human, so he pours himself an ashtray full of expensive Scotch and proceeds to stumble around drunk.
Then, the next morning, instead of asking how the cat got drunk, Garner and Amell look at the Scotch and say to each other “The cat has good taste!”
Yes, that’s a real line from a Spacey headlining motion picture.
Maybe that’s the saving grace of “Nine Lives,” the fact that the actors are willing to play with such a stupid script.
Walken plays Mr. Purr-kins as straight as they come, trying to make him a wise mystical figure and trying his best to work with the premise that he can magically communicate with cats.
Spacey plays a more upbeat version of his usual rich jerk type, and then becomes a constantly annoyed and sad voice over an honestly cute cat.
The change between Spacey’s baritone lamenting “I’m going to have to go the bathroom in a box” over footage over a cute gray cat running around is so bizarre, it’s hilarious.
Garner also is giving it her all with the script, constantly smiling and giggling her way through lines like “It’s illegal for me to castrate my husband, Mr. Fuzzypants, but I can have YOU neutered.”
The only actor that doesn’t seem like they’re having a good time or particularly invested is Amell, who hits his marks and frowns when he needs to.
“Nine Lives” is a mess, from the Comic Sans opening credits to the finale which involves the cat jumping off of a building attempting to land on top of a parachute.
It’s an upsettingly lazy turn from the usually creative and fun Sonnefeld, but the commitment of most of the cast changes it from a terrible movie to a terribly entertaining film.
It’s not something that you would want to analyze, but it’s something to turn your brain off and just laugh at the ridiculousness.