Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a billionaire whose workaholic lifestyle takes him away from his loving wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and adorable daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman). Needing a present for Rebecca’s 11th birthday, Brand buys a seemingly harmless cat from a mysterious pet store. Suddenly, a bizarre turn of events traps poor Tom inside the animal’s body. The owner of the business, Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken), tells him that he has one week to reconnect with his family, or live out the rest of his days as a cute and furry feline named Mr. Fuzzypants.
Good live-action kids films have been sparse the last few years with the last probably being Goosebumps last October. Now when it comes to cats, they have always been very divisive. Most people either love them or hate them. Cats have become more prominent as of late with Keanu and now with Nine Lives. The big selling point for this one is seeing Kevin Spacey as a cat, something his character despises. This is also quite a departure from the role that we have gotten used to being Frank Underwood from House of Cards. The trailers featured Spacey’s personality coming through in his portrayal of the cat which is promising.
Of course everybody knows that Tom Brand (Spacey) eventually becomes a cat and that’s fine but this film is a redemption story. Brand is a workaholic billionaire who would much rather work than spend time with his wife Lara (Garner) or his daughter Rebecca (Weissman). Forced to get a present for his daughter’s 11th birthday, he decides to buy a cat named Mr. Fuzzypants. After a freak accident, Brand finds himself trapped inside the cat’s body. The owner of the pet store, Felix Perkins (Walken), informs him that he has one week to repair his relationship with his family or he’ll spend the rest of his life trapped within the cat.
Tom, as a person, is arrogant and has a massive ego. He takes his business personally and wants to be the best at everything. This is the most evident when his New York skyscraper is challenged by another in Chicago. His drive to be the best has come at the expense of his family past, including his ex-wife Madison (Cheryl Hines) and his son David (Robbie Amell), and present. This behavior continued once he became the cat. He could not come to terms with what has happened and just wants to get out. He couldn’t see what was going wrong with his family.
Once he no longer had a choice, he started to try and was finally able to see what was wrong with his family and what he was doing to them. He had realized what he was doing to them and vowed to change. These more emotional moments were great due to Spacey’s performance as he was able to make Brand very likeable and relatable, making his struggle feel real. This wasn’t the only thing going on here as the future of Brand’s company, Firebrand, was also in jeopardy. It was up to David, who also works for the company, to try and save it. To do so, he had to compete with a man named Ian (Mark Consuelos). This was okay to watch primarily because it allowed David to get closer to Tom.
With Tom being a cat for most of the film, which isn’t too long clocking in at 87 minutes, expect some cat-related antics. Some of it was Tom when he was first getting used to being a cat and his displeasure from being a cat and some of it were his attempted interactions with his family who can’t understand him and him just being a cat. This created a lot of funny moments because of what both the cat and Tom were doing. While we see a cat doing all these things, we still see it as Tom. Because of cat limitations, some CGI was used and it was blatantly obvious at times. Also it was fun to see Tom as a cat, the film could have gone much further with more of Tom’s many cat-related quips.
The acting was good all around with Spacey and Walken standing out. Spacey was compelling and fun to watch as both Mr. Fuzzypants and Tom Brand. Walken was fun as the kooky cat shop owner and cat whisperer. He and Spacey had great chemistry which made their interactions fun to watch. Garner was good despite not having much to do here and Amell was good as well, fulfilling the film’s other half.
Overall, this was a fun kids film with a good, albeit not original, story and some good performances by Spacey and Walken.