Film: “Nine Lives”; Director: Barry Sonnenfeld; Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Robbie Amell, Cheryl Hines, Mark Consuelos, Malina Weissman, Christopher Walken; Rating: ***
While the old English proverb, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three, he stays,” may be the origination of this myth, it is not thought to be meant in seriousness. Director Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Nine Lives”, however, gives a convincing, new dimension to the explanation of this myth.
“Nine Lives” is a family comedy about a billionaire real-estate tycoon who is trapped in the body of a tomcat, to teach him the true meaning of life.
The narration begins with a rich, egotistical and self-centred Manhattan mogul, Tom Brand, fussing over details concerning the size of his latest tower. So obsessed is he with his projects that he neglects his family. And on this occasion, it his daughter’s eleventh birthday party.
To make amends for his past behaviour, and after much reluctance, he decides to present his daughter a gift that she has been wanting for a while, a pet cat. So he lands up at Purr King’s, a pet emporium. The owner Felix Perkins, sensing that Tom is not a cat lover, suggests to him, “The best way to pick a pet is by allowing the pet to choose you.”
So Tom picks up Fuzzypants, a cat, who brushes him often. Armed with the cat, Tom dashes to his daughter’s party. But en route he stops over at his FireBrand Tower where an accidental fall from the top of the tower, ensures a mind-swap, between Tom and Fuzzypants.
So while Tom’s body lay in comatose in the hospital, his consciousness magically gets reassigned to the cat. What follows is Tom’s endeavour to get out of the trap, while his associates attempt to sell off his company.
The script written by five screen-writers, generates its own cut-rate surrealism. Every creative potential, though presented as an absolute whole in the plot, in actuality, is underwritten and poorly developed.
It raises many questions, especially, if Tom is trapped in Cat, does it mean that cat is trapped in Tom’s comatose body? And the script does not answer this at all.
Also, the supporting characters and their relationships are all one-dimensional and very sketchily etched.
The film revolves around Spacey as Tom and Mr. Fuzzypants and he is effectively convincing. He is aptly supported by; Robbie Amell, as his son David, Malina Weismann as his daughter Rebecca, Jennifer Garner as his wife Lara and Cheryl Hines as his ex-wife and mother of David.
It is Christopher Walken’s character of the cat whisperer Felix Perkin, which is the most intriguing and fascinating one. But unfortunately, it is one of the most underdeveloped ones.
On the production front, the animation is basic, yet the animated, computer-generated images of the cats seamlessly merge with the live action drama, which is crisp and entertaining.
Over all, “Nine Lives” is a light film that would appeal to feline lovers and amuse little kids to distraction.