The winner of two Oscars, and two SAG awards for his work on House of Cards, Kevin Spacey is one of the finest actors working today
His latest film, however, is the last thing you’d expect to see him in.
Helmed by Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld, Nine Lives is a family comedy where Spacey plays a cat-hating workaholic, who magically switches bodies with his daughter’s pet moggy when he falls into a coma.
Unfortunately, it would appear that this piece of random, novelty storytelling hasn’t resulted in a surprise hit. The movie has been savaged by critics, and flopped at the US box office.
Total kitty litter
With an-all American cast, including Christopher Walken as a ‘mysterious pet shop owner’ and Jennifer Garner as the ‘disenchanted wife’, Spacey’s role may be a bizarre departure, but it’s strange to see that Walken is starting to be typecast as a ‘old guy who is not exactly who he seems’ (he played the exact same role in Click with Adam Sandler ten years earlier).
The script for Nine Lives was written by five people, a sign that the film has likely been a disorganised mess ever since it was given the green light.
The body swap trope should arguably have been retired a long time ago; it’s a story element which instantly makes the plot of films predictable, and painfully dull to watch.
The arc has all the same highs and lows as the films that came before it: parent doesn’t appreciate life, changes bodies with someone or something else, learns about the little things and in the end becomes a better person.
Bizarrely however, the body swap isn’t even the main focus of the film.
Instead, a storyline about corporate secrecy takes priority in this botched attempt at a kid-friendly comedy.
You’ve likely seen the same jokes in other films over and over as the CGI cat causes mischief, urinating on his family’s rug and destroying their possessions. According to IMDB, over 70% of the film is computer generated, which is probably where all of the $30 million it cost to make this thing went.
Why Spacey? WHY?!
It’s still surprising to see such great actors star in such terrible movies, though. Surely the man who played Keyser Soze doesn’t need the paycheck that badly? Walken, on the other hand, has been sliding into these train wrecks for years.
These films aren’t enough to ruin someone’s career (even Sonnenfeld managed to make more movies after Wild Wild West) but it’s so unusual to see Spacey in something that so bad. The fact that he’s playing a talking cat called Mr Fuzzypants just makes it worse.
If you want to see a film where Kevin Spacey switches bodies with something and the result isn’t terrible, watch 2001’s K-PAX. It’s about ‘prot’, a patient at a psychiatric ward who claims to be an alien who has body swapped with a human after travelling to earth from another galaxy.
And it’s great.
If the masochist in you fancies a watch, Nine Lives is out in UK cinemas this week.