Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Review: Nine Lives

Nine Lives (SPOILERS)
Cert: PG / 87 mins / Dir. Barry Sonnenfield / Trailer

Despite being a great devotee of all things cinematic, I don't really keep up with the 'showbiz news' side of the media. Tales of woe come and go, and unless they make it onto the 'actual' news or are scandalous enough to turn up in my Twitter feed, I don't really hear of them. As a result, I cannot imagine what financial apocalypse has occurred around the Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey that he'd sign up for this. Christoper Walken and Jennifer Garner's names on the cast list surprise me not one jot (they'd go to the opening of a fridge), but Spacey? That poor, poor man.

And so, the aforementioned trio autopilot their way through a Frankenstein body-swap morality tale, assembled from the disembodied tropes of every other one before it. Kevin Spacey is a slightly mean businessman (not like Ebeneezer Scrooge mean, just a bit grumpy like most middle-aged men tend to be) who is zapped into the body of a cat during a lightning storm after his daughter's wished for a cat, to teach him the error of his ways! And to get him to bring dead mice and birds in from the garden for his family more often. Or something. Naturally, hilarity ensues because cats are inherently comical creatures. Garner plays his unlikely borderline-trophy wife, Walken plays the wise old man in the pet shop (not at all like the old man off of Gremlins), and Malina Weissman plays his daughter: the kid-character in a kids' film who is largely ignored by the screenplay.

The film actually begins passably enough, Spacey playing his role with some amount of pantomime gusto, at least. But once he inhabits the cat's body (the point of the film, remember), the whole thing seems to grind to an embarrassing crawl. Without the facial reactions or physical acting to back it up, Spacey's laconic inner monologue comes off as abject boredom, as even the central premise of man-in-cat isn't mined for any sense of uniqueness or novelty.

One can only assume that the budget for this movie went on the cast and the (relatively well-rendered) CGI cat, because the rest of the film looks like a cheap TV-movie. Which is fine if it happens to be on your TV and you haven't actively paid to watch it. Because that's really all it's good for. Although even kids*1 are more discerning than this.

The most insulting aspect of the whole film is how unconvincing the 'be a better person' schtick is handled. It's not like there isn't a new interpretation of A Christmas Carol every other year; there are plenty of examples out there. If you need (or indeed, get) any kind of guidance from Nine Lives, you're already in a position where no film can save you.

…and the cat dies in the end.

They try and act like it doesn't, but we all know it does.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
13 Going On 30 and YouTube cat-videos.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film stars Kevin Spacey, who also appeared in 1988's Working Girl alongside Harrison 'Solo' Ford.
All roads lead to Han, today.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 And even as I type that I know I mean "especially kids". You might not like much of what they enjoy, but they're far more choosy consumers of entertainment than adults.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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