Blu-ray Review: Nine Lives (2016)

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Some movies truly inspire the all-too-commonly uttered expression "WTF?" Nine Lives, new to Blu-ray via Fox Home Entertainment, is one such movie. This supposed family film was directed by none other than Barry Sonnenfeld. The dictionary entry for the word "slumming" should now include an image of the Nine Lives one sheet—not to suggest Sonnenfeld is one of the great directors of all time, but this is the man who helmed the Men in Black series and Get Shorty (okay, also RV but trust me, that lamented Robin Williams vehicle plays like a masterpiece next to Nine Lives).

The cast includes Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Gardner, Christopher Walken, and Cheryl Hines. If you are a fan of any of those actors, consider that to be the only reason to check out this abomination. It's not that Nine Lives is a dopey family film—those can be fun, solidly-crafted entertainments. It's that the tone of Nine Lives is so infuriatingly, confoundingly incongruous, it renders the movie virtually unwatchable. The story concerns business tycoon Tom Brand (Spacey) who's attempting to spearhead the construction of the tallest building in the Western world, only to find himself in competition with another builder in Chicago. His son David (Robbie Amell) is made to feel so inferior, he winds up contemplating suicide. This stuff is the basis for a kid-friendly cat movie? 

nine lives jennifer gardner.jpg When Tom falls off the roof of his under-construction skyscraper, his physical body falls into a coma and he is placed on life support (again, fun family stuff). But his spirit inhabits the body of a cat. The same cat, Mr. Fuzzypants, he recently picked up for his tween daughter Nicole (Malina Weissman). So Tom, as Mr. Fuzzypants, must try to demonstrate to Nicole and her mom Lara (Gardner) what really happened. Lots of CG cat pratfalls ensue. Meanwhile, David is drawn increasingly closer to the brink as control of his dad's company is slowly usurped by Ian (Mark Consuelos), another top dog at the company.

Where does Walken fit in? He's the mysterious oddball who sold Mr. Fuzzypants to Tom in the first place. It's a somnambulent cameo. With all the recent family-friendly material, chose wisely by avoiding Nine Lives. Even a second-rate animated film like last summer's Ratchet & Clank has more competence to offer than this turkey.

Special features on Fox's Nine Lives Blu-ray include a pair of brief featurettes: "Letting the Cat Out of the Bag" and "Russian For Herding Cats." Seeing as the featurettes are of a promotional nature, don't look to them for any answers as to why a group of skilled, experienced, talented filmmakers wasted their time on this nonsense.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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