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Title: Nine Lives

Movie: :2stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:68

I feel like I’m back in the 90s again. The family comedy of a PG rating (at least in the live action community) seems to have been left back in that decade to rot. “Nine Lives” does its very best to reinvigorate the classic trope where a workaholic father who completely ignores his family has a second chance at redemption. This time with the added benefit of inhabiting a cat’s body to somehow redeem himself and regain his humanity once more. “Nine Lives” passed under the radar this summer until I saw the press release, but I was willing to give it a chance once I saw the great looking cast. Kevin Spacey is always gold in his comedies and Jennifer Garner is a personal favorite of mine as she’s matured in her acting career. Christopher Walken can be hit or miss, but I’m willing to roll the dice. Sadly I wish I HADN’T rolled that dice and stuck with my initial instinct to just be leery of the family comedy.

Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is one of the richest billionaires in the United States, and certainly one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in Manhattan. Owner of Firebrand industries, he is obsessed with building the tallest building in all of Manhattan. So much so that he is basically a father and husband in name only to his wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and Rebecca (Malina Weissman). His entire goal of making Brand Tower the biggest building in Manhattan has consumed his life and pretty much driven his family away from him. However, it is Rebecca’s 11th birthday and she has been BEGGING her father for a cat. Well, Tom is not exactly a fan of the feline species and really is trying to find a way to get out of that gift until fate drops him off at Purrkins pet shop. A little shop off the beaten camp where the owner (Christopher Walken) gives him the perfect animal. A fully little kitty named Mr. Fuzzypants. As fate would have it, Tom is on his way back to Rebecca’s party when work draws him away once more and a fateful bolt of lightning causes an accident which leaves him in a coma.

Coma or not, the universe has a lesson for Tom. Waking up in just a few minutes the business tycoon realizes that he’s stuck inside the body of Mr. Fuzzypants! Doing everything he can to attract the attention of his worried family and everyone around him, Tom just ends up frustrating himself. That is until the owner of Purrkins pet shop informs the man stuck inside a feline that he will stay that way until he learns to love his family again. The RIGHT way. Well, that’s easier said than done as Tom is not exactly pleased with his new situation. But being a cat gives him a perspective and fly-on-the-wall role that he never had before. Listening in to how everyone views him and what happens when he’s gone is a sobering reminder that he may NOT have been the man of the year to his family. Not only that. His second in command at Brand Industries is trying to sell off his company on the public market and even his son David (Robbie Amell) may not be able to stop the sale from going through with his father in a coma and his consciousness stuck in a cat. Not to mention the clock is ticking for Tom because if his body dies in that coma, he’s stuck as a fluffy little meow box forever.

“Nine Lives” plays itself off as a 90s family comedy about animals and fathers who need to learn that work is not the only way to provide for your family. But really it falls short in just about every aspect. Sure Kevin Spacey is fantastic in the role of the sarcastic cat without a voice, and so does Christopher Walken, but the rest of the cast is all over the place with cheesy roles that really can’t seem to stick the landing. Robbie Amell does a decent job as the oldest son trying to make his father proud, and Garner does her best with the abysmal script, but the rest of the cast comes across very one notish (especially Mark Consuelos who plays the mustache twirling villain with ridiculous gusto).

The Jokes are one of the biggest weak spot of the movie as Spacey hams it up as the half CGI have live action cat who goes on a rampage around the house in an effort to get gags. You know like getting drunk off of 50 year old scotch and having a CGI cat bang around the house like he’s in “Cats and Dogs”. Then there’s the overly clichéd (and been done a billion times) plot where Tom has to learn how to be human again and love like he’s been loved by his family. Plot points are rushed and glossed over, such as Lara about to leave Tom, but then magically back together with him as soon as he’s in a coma, as well as a bunch of vindictive board members that magically seem to get off scott free. Too much in too short a time frame, with not NEARLY enough quality put into the script. Sure some things work and a few jokes landed, but this is not exactly what I would call top notch film making.


Rated PG for thematic elements, language and some rude humor

Video :4.5stars:
While the movie may not have been top notch, the video encode certainly is. The 1.85:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray looks like it’s taken from a very clean digital shoot and the results are nothing short of stunning. The opening scene with Tom jumping from a plane and parachuting on the top of his new Brand building looks simply amazing with extremely saturated colors that really pop off the screen. Look at all the cherry reds from the helmet he’s wearing down to the accessories at the board meeting. Clarity is razor sharp with intimate clothing and facial details looking amazing and even the wide angle shots looking like you could reach through the screen and touch it. Black levels are deep and inky and I noticed no signs of any real artifacting to speak of.

Audio :3.5stars:
Strangely enough the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a little weak for a modern film. The mix is VERY front heavy, with sparse use of the surrounds for a little background noise and that’s all. The dialog seems to have been recorded just a little bit low for even a drama/comedy and I had to really crank it to hear what was being said sometimes. Vocals are clean and clear though, with only minimal boxiness in the limited range of the fairly benign mix. LFE is clean and deep, adding some weight to Tom’s sports car as well as a few crashes and bangs thanks to Tom inhabiting Mr. Fuzzypants’ body. It’s simple, and more than a bit front heavy, but it gets the job done.

Extras :2stars:

• Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: The Making of Nine Lives
• Russian for Herding Cats
• Theatrical Trailer
• Promo Trailers

Overall: :3.5stars:

The hardest part of making a family comedy is making sure the movie is actually, you know, funny. “Nine Lives” manages to miss at just about every aspect of making a good movie as it rehashes tried and true tropes that were worn out and long in the tooth in the NINETIES, let alone almost 20 years later. There’s a few standout performances with Spacey and Walken giving it their best, but there really isn’t much meat on the proverbial bones when it comes to the script and direction. The video is stunning for sure, but the audio is surprisingly mediocre for a new release. While I wouldn’t say I LOATHED “Nine Lives” I wouldn’t exactly recommend it for anyone to watch unless you’re really bored. Personally I’d give this one a skip it rating as well.

Additional Information:

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Garner
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: Gwyn Lurie, Matt Allen
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Fox
Rated: PG
Runtime: 87 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 1st 2016

Buy Nine Lives On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Skip It

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