Nine Lives movie full length review - A Strange Kids Movie that Fails at Being a Kids Movie
I'll start by saying that I am not the target audience for this movie. I'm a single 38 year old man who hates cats.
I also am a minister and I was asked to go along with a youth group from my church, so I went, not really knowing what I was getting myself into--I thought the movie was animated right up until the time that it started.
That said, this is a live action film starring Jennifer Garner and Kevin Spacey. The gist of the plot is that Spacey plays a business tycoon whose little girl wants a cat for her birthday--but before Spacey gets the gift to the party, he's involved in an accident that leaves his body in a coma and his soul trapped in the body of the cat.
So what to say about this movie. To state the pros, it could be worse. I've given it four stars because that seems about right--it's a bad movie, but there are worse movies that have been made. The acting isn't terrible, and there are a few laughs spread throughout the film. I suppose if you were a cat lover you might like it, although I must say that the lady in our group who is the biggest cat lover of all (and I'm talking like, her entire house is decorated in cat stuff and she currently has thirteen cats living in her home) didn't like the movie because she thought the scenes were a bit rough on the cat. Those scenes were obviously CGI effects, but still--you get the idea.
As for the cons, again there's the "rough treatment of the cat thing". But the much larger issue for me was that this was a kids movie that just didn't know how to be a kids movie very well. I know I said above that I'm a minister, and so it would be easy to pigeonhole my next comment as my being a prude, but trust me, that's not the case. I'm just a reasonably smart adult who knows the difference between a movie made for kids and one that's not. And this movie falls flat in the whole kid friendly department. Again, this is a movie about a man being trapped in a cat's body, and it was extremely clear that the target audience here was kids. Yeah, well....read on.
First off, there is enough of a weird vibe going on with this script that it almost borders on deranged in the first place. I said almost. I'm not one of those people that looks down my nose at Harry Potter or anything like that, and I get that the gist of the story is all in good fun--but there's this whole element of mysticism involved in this movie, what with the soul swap thing and a strange "cat whisperer" played by Christopher Walken (as if waiting expectantly for him to produce a gold watch out of his pocket wasn't bad enough). That said, there's this almost Halloweenish feel to the movie--despite its being happy go lucky and kid oriented throughout most of the film. So the vibe of the script is the first red flag.
Then you get into some particulars. The cat gets drunk off of scotch at one point. OK, again, I'm no prude--but why make intoxication a source of humor for a kids movie? Or the couple of times that a swear word was almost used? "Son of a...." trailing off into nothing. The little boy behind me turned to his mother and said "Oh, he almost said a bad word!" Why even have that in a kids movie? OR, for that matter, at one point Spacey's character does in fact say "damn". OK, I get it. It's 2016, not 1956. And certainly there are other kid friendly movies that have used their fair share of light swear words. E.T. The Goonies. Ghostbusters, etc. None of those movies were as childish or as overtly marketed to kids as this one was, though.
And finally, at the end of the film there's a scene in which it is strongly implied that a character is about to commit suicide. I won't spoil it for you, but the point is that to even imply something like that is a little heavy for a movie targeted to fourth graders, if you ask me.
I'm sure if I wanted to nitpick I could think of a few more problematic scenes. The relationship between Garner and Spacey and Spacey's ex is a bit odd for a kids movie. In fact, as I'm finishing up this review, it's just now hit me what the problem is: Someone decided to combine a romantic comedy with a kids movie. That's it! This movie is half "Bridesmaids" and half Disney, and the result is a strange film that doesn't fit well into either of those genres, thus falling flat all the way around.
All that said, again, there are worse movies that have been made. But this is a bad movie, and there are better things to spend your money on at the box office right now.