Nine Lives movie cast: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Melina, Weissman, Christopher Walken
Nine Lives movie director: Barry Sonnenfeld
It is a bad time to ask us to root for a guy whose ambition is to build tall towers, with his name and face stamped on them. Particularly when the only political statement sought to be made is a cat throwing ink on a photograph of George Bush Junior.
Maybe Clinton-friend Spacey sought that pound of flesh, for agreeing to spend this film — which manages to be more boring than your average cat-doing-things video — trapped in a feline’s body. Meanwhile, Spacey himself spends almost the entire film in coma, in a kind of body-swap that the film wisely leaves unexplained.
Walking into a pet shop manned by Christopher Walken, on a cloudy evening with dark cats purring, has something to do with it, for sure. But Walken’s Perkins needs a bolt of lightning striking Spacey’s Tom Brand to push things forward.
Tom has dealt with that shock for the most-abused trope in movie business: being a multi-millionaire who can’t make time for his family, particularly, good heavens, his daughter’s 11th birthday. He goes to Perkins to make amends, as the daughter, Rebecca, has sought a cat for present. Outraged at his brusqueness, Perkins decides to teach Tom a lesson by reducing him to a pet cat.
How any of that makes any plausible sense is the least of the film’s problems, which struggles to find funny lines to help this premise stand on the wobbly feet of its Tom-cat. Garner, as Tom’s long-complaining but ever-loving wife Lara, smiles through it all, perhaps hoping the dimples will distract. Once Tom is in the hospital, Rebecca and Lara don’t let a coma disturb their waking hours.
The film even has a side story involving Tom’s tower-raising business, and the attempts to take it over by a subordinate. The one standing in the way is Tom’s son from a previous marriage, and the cat.
However, the one with the sharpest claws in the film is none of the above. It is Brand’s first wife, played by Cheryl Hines to blonde perfection. She is enjoying both the divorce and Tom’s alimony.
The fact that Lara keeps her around, at all times, is telling. A cat would know.