A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nine Lives is a body-switching, talking-animal comedy in which a billionaire businessman's mind/personality is implanted in a cat while his body is in a coma. Starring Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Garner, the comedy features predictable kitty-litter jokes, a suggestive comment that will likely go over kids' head, and a surprising amount of drinking for a kid-targeted movie. The cat/dad drinks Scotch (and gets drunk), and a woman drinks too much at a child's birthday party. There's also a lot of slapstick comedy, mostly involving the cat, in the style of lolcat videos/stunts. In one scene, it appears like a character is about to commit suicide. It's not a great movie, but at least the the messages promote work-life balance and closer relationships between a workaholic and his kids.
What's the story?
NINE LIVES stars multiple award winner Kevin Spacey as Tom Brand, a wealthy real estate mogul about to complete the highest skyscraper in North America. But all he does is work, and his (second) wife, Lara (Jennifer Garner), makes it clear that he must buy his own impressive present for their daughter Rebecca's (Malina Weissman) 11th birthday. After Tom visits a mysterious pet store owned by Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken) to acquire a cat (Mr. Fuzzypants) as his gift, he ends up in a serious accident that leads to him being trapped in the cat's body. Meanwhile, Tom's own comatose body is hospitalized. Now, as his daughter's new cat, Tom/Mr. Fuzzypants must attempt to keep his business partner from selling their company; help his oldest son, David (Robbie Amell), take his rightful place in the organization; and figure out a way to mend what's broken in his family.
Is it any good?
A predictable slog disguised as a family-friendly talking-animal movie, this Barry Sonnenfeld film wastes its award-winning cast for a bunch of kitty litter jokes. Nine Lives is the kind of kid-targeted comedy that makes audiences wonder what the stars wanted to buy with their salary -- or who they owed a favor. The fundamental flaw is that, unlike most live-action movies featuring animals that talk amongst themselves, in this one, only the audience and Walken's character can hear Mr. Fuzzypants speak as Spacey. And the dad-as-kitty monologues and one liners aren't at all funny or original (although kids might laugh at every third or fourth cat slapstick sequence).
Garner -- who rose to fame as a powerful covert agent/assassin on Alias -- once again plays a mom dealing with family issues, which is disappointing; she can do a lot more than boring "mom" roles. Cheryl Hines appears as Tom's always-ready-for-a-cocktail ex-wife, Madison, who is (implausibly) good friends with Lara. Amell's presence as Tom's oldest son and employee underscores what a jerk Tom is to his kids, but that's basically the entire premise of this yawn-worthy story: Workaholic dad learns to make time for his kids after spending time with a cat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lessons that Nine Lives has Tom learn as Mr. Fuzzypants. What are they? Do they feel relevant to your life? Why is the idea of balance so important these days?
What role does alcohol play in the movie? Do you think it's appropriate for a kids' film? Kids: Did did you notice the drinking?
Why do you think talking-animal movies are so popular? Do you like it when these movies include more than one talking animal? Why or why not?
- In theaters: August 5, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: November 1, 2016
- Cast: Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Walken
- Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
- Studio: EuropaCorp
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, language and some rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.