Nine Lives Parent Review
Even though the plot is predictable, the underlying message of keeping priorities straight will likely play purr-fectly to family audience.
Career obsessed CEO Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is proving himself to be an absent father and husband. All of his available time and energy is focused on building FireBrand Tower, the tallest building in North America. When the distracted bread-winner finally makes an appearance, his wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) reminds him that their daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman) is turning eleven the next day. She makes it clear that he needs to show up at the party with a suitable gift.
Young Rebecca, who adores her father, has been asking for a cat as a birthday present for years. Tom hates cats. However, pressed for time and out of options, the desperate dad makes the decision to grant his child’s wish. So Tom steps in to Purrkins, a store on a deserted street (resembling Diagon Alley) with kitties crawling everywhere. Inside, the odd shopkeeper Felix Perkins (Christopher Walkin) assists the surly customer in picking out a suitable pet - Mr. Fuzzypants. Enroute home, after a series of strange events, Tom finds himself trapped inside the body of the meowing fur-ball without really knowing how or why.
Obviously Mr. Fuzzypants (a.k.a Tom) has had a stressful day, so what better way to sooth his nerves than with a bowl full of Scotch? Hard liquor proves to be impactful and, in his drunken state, he relieves himself on the carpet. (He never liked that rug anyway.) Dinner doesn’t go much better, even though he is presented with a dish of high-end cat food. Too picky to even consider consuming it, he instead opts to develop his jumping skills and finds a box of cold cereal. (Much mess ensues.) That helps to quash the immediate needs, but still hungry, frustrated and somewhat hungover, the man-stuck-within-the-mammal can see no easy way out of his hairy predicament.
Meanwhile back at FireBrand, Tom’s oldest son, David (Robbie Amell) is left holding the bag while the cat is out. Although he originally only took a job at the family business to be near the father, he now finds himself privy to a private plot devised by employee Ian Cox (Marc Consuelos) to sell the company in the absence of its leader. Already feeling like a disappointment to the proud patriarch, David is determined to do anything to protect his Dad’s interests… even if he needs to jump off a building to do it. (Not to worry parents, it is quickly evident taking his own life isn’t the plan.)
Nine Lives harkens back to the 1960s Disney era when movies such as That Darn Cat! and The Shaggy Dog flooded screens. Like those films, this one avoids heading down storylines that might include sexual or vulgar content. It also presents some pleasant surprises. For example, Tom’s ex-wife, Madison (Cheryl Hines) is portrayed as being friends with the current Mrs. Brand, which is a nice and unexpected twist. She still harbors some hard feelings toward her former husband yet she reminds the children that their father loves them. Also refreshing is the calm pace in which the scenes are filmed and edited. And a unique musical score adds to the whimsical plot.
While living his new life, this Tom cat is forced to recognize how his behavior is impacting his family members and, of course, eventually sees what he needs to do to change. Even though the plot is predictable, the underlying message of keeping our priorities straight and paying attention to that which matters most comes through loud and clear. It’s also a good reminder that it’s never too late to teach an old cat some new tricks.Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring Robbie Amell, Kevin Spacey, Teddy Sears, Jennifer Garner. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release August 5, 2016. Updated November 2, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Nine Lives here.
Nine Lives Parents Guide
How might portrayals of wealthy families affect young viewers, especially those who come from different social circumstances than the one depicted? What questions might they raise about lifestyles, material possessions and expectations about what parents should provide?
Why do you think the screenwriter of this story choose a wealthy father to depict a parent who neglects his children? Is this a stereotype? How might audiences react if the movie portrayed the mother as the absent and neglectful parent instead?