Review: Nine Lives

I watched Nine Lives, and everything changed.

by Evan Oyster



My original plan was to write a brief review of all the movies I watched this month. And I watched a lot of great movies, like The Big Lebowski, the new Wes Anderson movie Isle of Dogs, and one of the greatest movies ever, La Dolce Vita. But then I watched Nine Lives, and everything changed. This is one of the most bizarre films I have seen in a very long time. It’s no secret that the film is bad, it has a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 11. You might think, “oh well whatever it probably just has a bunch of dumb cat puns and is clearly meant for kids so that’s why critics didn’t like it.” But then you watch the movie and think to yourself, “what the fuck was that?” And then you read up on the movie, eager to know how in the hell this thing was made, and then you just keep going deeper and deeper into the rabbit whole, your opinion of the movie shifting from hatred and boredom to shock and awe.

But first, what is the movie about? I’ll try and keep this as short and sweet as possible. Kevin Spacey is a jerk businessman with no time for his family. He falls off a building and becomes comatose. His mind is transported into a cat because he’s a jerk and needs to learn to be nice to his wife and daughter. He becomes nice and after jumping off a building to commit suicide with his older son (we’ll get back to this), he turns back into a human. As he wakes up from his coma he says, “Meow that hurt!” That’s about it. Oh, except I forgot to mention the central conflict of this movie, the reason Kevin Spacey even falls off a building and turns into a cat in the first place. I don’t even know if I should though since it is so boring and low stakes, although I feel I have to since most of the movie inexplicably revolves around this. Kevin Spacey’s company is trying to build the tallest building in America but another company is going to beat them. That’s it. Not, say, the company is facing a huge dilemma like a merger where the Spacey is going to have to lay off half his employees, including his son. Or, I don’t know, they’re trying to invent something to end world hunger but there’s one thing keeping them from doing it. “No,” the five (!!) screenwriters said to themselves, “let’s make the central conflict for the movie be the fucking height of a building.” “But Evan,” you are probably saying to yourself, “the movie isn’t really about the building, it’s about Kevin Spacey being turned into a cat and learning how to be a better person, so who cares if the subplot is so low stakes?” And in theory you would be right, good reader. But not in the case of Nine Lives. You see, this movie should really be called A Whole Bunch of Boring Bored Meetings and People Crying Over a Comatose Kevin Spacey: The Movie.

Now it’s time for us to talk about how this movie was even made in the first place. Nine Lives was distributed by the company EuropaCorp. The idea for Nine Lives came directly from the then CEO of EuropaCorp, Christophe Lambert. Now while the finished product involved an “I wish I was doing literally anything else and am only doing this for the money” performance from Spacey, the original idea for the film had the cat completely silent throughout the movie (I bet the studio wishes they stuck with that idea about now). The film was not meant to be a kids movie at all, but a Woody Allen-esque film. According to screenwriter Matt Allen, whom Lambert hired to write his terrible idea, “it was to be ‘introspective and sophisticated,’ but at the same time, it still had to be about a man who turns into a cat. I’m not kidding.” Due to the need for money, Allen and his writing partner Caleb Wilson wrote a script for it and Lambert loved it. However, management soon changed at EuropaCorp, and Allen and Wilson were stuck pitching a terrible script they know was awful to the new executives. For some reason, even though the studio wanted to change it to a kids movie where the cat talks, they still bought the idea and made an actual fucking movie about this.

Honestly I don’t even know if it’s even worth going much more in depth with the actual movie. The movie sure doesn’t deserve it. Every actor is phoning it in and looks like they couldn’t give less of a shit, except Jennifer Garner, who is kind of trying but is just awful in the movie. Oh and I forgot to mention it but Christopher Walken is in the movie too! He’s actually the reason Kevin Spacey is able to turn into the cat in the first place. Walken plays a pet store owner named Felix Perkins, who names his store Purrkins (get it? How clever and funny, right?). Apparently he knows all about Spacey and that he’s a jerk to his family, so he somehow has the power to turn Spacey into cat, but only after falling off the building, which Perkins had nothing to do with, and even though his body is dying Perkins says if he learns to be nice he’ll be fine? Honestly this movie makes no sense. Back to Spacey (as the cat) jumping off the building to commit suicide with his older son. His son wasn’t really committing suicide, he had a parachute on and did it to make a big scene so he could make a big announcement about how he really owns the company so this other greedy guy that wants the company can’t have it. Somehow Spacey didn’t see the big parachute on his son’s back, but him jumping off the roof is enough proof that he’s changed so he turns back into a human and wakes up from the coma just as he’s about to hit the ground. Also, it isn’t explained what happens the cat’s body, because afterwards the family still has the (now normal) cat as a pet, but it jumped off a huge skyscraper, so did it teleport? Is it some magic cat? Why did I even watch this “movie” in the first place? I will be asking myself this until the end of my days. Honestly who even cares anymore, I’ve written way too much about this atrocity, just don’t see it. The movie is too boring for kids, and too just plain awful for anyone else. But if you do wish to experience this thing it’s streaming for free if you have Amazon Prime. But don’t watch it.

Evan Oyster is cohost to Josh and Evan Buy the House on AROUSE Fridays from 3p-4p.