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edge staff writer


'Nine Lives' a cat-astrophe

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Family 'comedy' unfunny, insulting to kids and adults

One of the delightful side effects of the summer blockbuster season is the fact that every once in a while, a film comes along that is such an obvious misfire that you almost want to see it simply to find out if it could possibly be as terrible as it appears to be.

In the summer of 2016, 'Nine Lives' is that movie.

Maybe you've seen the trailers. You know, the ones where magic pet store owner Christopher Walken turns workaholic daredevil billionaire Kevin Spacey into a cat? As a self-styled connoisseur of bad cinema, I obviously couldn't wait to see this cinematic disaster.

I was not disappointed.

Spacey plays Tom Brand, a billionaire industrialist who we meet as he's preparing to jump out of a plane and parachute into a press conference for his soon-to-open tallest-in-the-world skyscraper.

(I'll give you a second to go ahead and re-read that sentence a couple of times.)

From there, we quickly learn that Tom's son David (Robbie Amell, 'Max') is working for his dad in an effort to earn the old man's respect. Tom's lieutenant Ian (Mark Consuelos, 'All We Had') wants to sell the company. And Tom's second wife Lara (Jennifer Garner, 'Miracles from Heaven') is feeling neglected, as is his daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman, TV's 'Supergirl').

When Rebecca asks for a cat for her birthday, Tom initially resists, but finally caves. However, he inadvertently winds up at a mysterious pet shop run by the enigmatic Mr. Perkins (Walken). He winds up with a scruffy cat named Mister Fuzzypants, but some wildly convoluted and incredibly unlikely events lead to his mind magically winding up in the cat.

From there, wellit goes pretty much like you'd expect.

Tom finds out from Perkins that he has to figure out how he wound up inside the cat in order to get out. As you might expect, it has to do with love and family and not taking things for granted and all that crap. On top of all that, there's also a kind of surprising amount of corporate espionage-type stuff particularly for what's ostensibly a movie for kids.

In the end, Tom has to figure out the solution to his situation before time runs out and he is doomed to spend the rest of his life as a cat for reasons that are never really explained and that the movie clearly isn't interested in exploring.

This is a terrible movie. So terrible, in fact, that it approaches transcendence in its terribleness. In truth, it is kind of glorious.

There's something perversely entertaining about the lack of sts given by literally everybody involved in this project. From Spacey and Walken to director Barry Sonnenfeld (yes really) and the five screenwriters (!) who somehow managed to get their names on this misbegotten thing, every frame of this film was scripted, shot and performed by people who literally could not care any less; it is an incoherent mess of slo-mo cat hijinks, pee jokes and nonsensical idiocy that wouldn't be out of place getting scraped from a box of kitty litter.

And the performances! Dear Lord, the performances! We'll start with Spacey, because holy hell. The scenes where he's actually there are bad enough, thanks in large part to a shockingly, hilariously terrible hairpiece and a complete lack of effort. But it's the voice work where Spacey 'shines' it's as though the entire Mister Fuzzypants performance was stitched together from pieces of pre-existing phone calls Spacey made while on Xanax. It's a special kind of affectless awfulness I'd say he wasn't trying, but you have to try to be this bad.

Garner looks mildly stunned throughout, like someone surprised her by hitting her in the head with a rubber mallet immediately before every take. Amell's got a blank slate stare going most of the time, an almost-troubling emptiness behind his eyes. Weissman is a typical kid actor, which makes her a far superior performer to Consuelos, whose presence feels like someone's inside joke. Walken, of course, is exquisite he clearly adores taking these weirdo parts in terrible movies for reasons (beyond paychecks, obviously) that mere mortals such as us will simply never understand. He's at his best when he's talking to a cat, which is as 21st century Walken as it gets.

'Nine Lives' is a mistake that no one would admit that they were making until it was too late. It is the result of either a drunken wager or someone getting in too deep with a loan shark. It is a children's movie made by people who not only don't understand children, but may actively hate children - heck, they may never have even BEEN children. It is unfunny and condescending, a collective collection of paychecks.

It is also your clubhouse leader for Worst Movie of 2016.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 19:40


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