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Nine Lives: Leave that cat alone

The audience has to sit through Mr. Fuzzypants trying to prove that he’s a humanstuck in an animal’s body.  

As far as body swap films go — not that the genre is in itself appealing — Freaky Friday leads by a mile and more. Even the 2003 remake with Lindsay Lohan and Jaime Lee Curtis was as good as the 1976 Jodie Foster film. But given a choice, I’d re-watch Rob Schneider’s tacky Hot Chick or Zac Efron’s sappy 17 Again over the annoying Nine Lives any day.

With a name like Nine Lives, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out there’s a feline angle involved.

But to encounter a body swap of such inane proportions, where a human and a cat’s souls get interchanged, definitely warrants a step back in caution. In fact, when it comes to this film, while you’re retreating you might as well go back home.

Here’s why: Kevin Spacey plays Tom Brand, a businessman and owner of the company FireBrand, who turns into a cat called Mr. Fuzzypants after a freak accident. This is an actor who’s so successful as the formidable Frank Underwood, the Vice President and then President of the USA, in House of Cards.

And now he’s playing the role of a cocky man punished for neglecting his family. His retribution is to get stuck in the body of an animal he loathes while trying to get closer to his much-younger wife, Lara (Jennifer Garner), and daughter, Rebecca (Malina Weissman).

Spacey is not the only head-scratching casting choice. An actor of the calibre of Christopher Walken plays the part of a kook called Felix Perkins, who is responsible for the soul switch. Perkins runs a pet store (with only cats) called Purrkins.

Throughout the excruciating duration of the film, the audience is tortured while watching Mr. Fuzzypants first try to prove he’s a human stuck in an animal’s body, then be resigned to his fate and still later strive to be the best pet in the world.

Through this tragedy (somebody play the world’s smallest violin, please), there’s an epic power battle mushrooming at FireBrand. A pesky slimeball is trying to get the company sold and there’s competition to build the highest building in New York. We’re treated to fleeting glimpses into the lives of the auxiliary characters.

There’s nothing tolerable about Nine Lives. Even Mr. Fuzzypants stops being cute (blasphemy for this animal-loving writer) after a point. This is especially when the CGI effects kick in to make him fly in the air, fall from heights and basically do gymnastics.

There’s also the cringe-worthy cat dancing at some point. To top it all, there’s a ridiculous sequence where Brand, in all his feline glory, attempts to save a human after a freefall from the top of a building.

The film can also be credited with the irritatingly inaccurate portrayal of a pet owner. Who keeps the litter box right next to a cat’s food? What sort of a cat whisperer has a single conversation with a pet and then proceeds to proclaim the job done?

When this eye-roll fest is complete, there’s no sigh of relief, just plain astonishment at wilfully putting yourself through this waste of time.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 12:29:23 AM |

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