Though renowned primarily for his recent misses, in the career of Adam Sandler has come the occasional hit – and one of which was Click. Now, Barry Sonnenfeld presents Nine Lives which follows an almost identical path, except the difference being that this is aimed at a family crowd, free of lewd humour or adult themes. If you wanted any further evidence the films are heavily entwined; Christopher Walken is playing, effectively, the exact same character.
Walken plays Felix Perkins, the eccentric owner of an elusive pet store, visited on a rainy evening by the well-known businessman Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey). Brand is a conceited, mega rich entrepreneur caught up in the opening of his new offices, which he hopes will be crowned the tallest building in the whole of North America. During this time he forgets it’s his daughter’s birthday, and to remain in the good books of his wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) he decides to buy a cat, which brings him to Perkins’ store. However during an argument with an employee, Brand falls off the building he’s championing, sending him into a coma. When he finally awakes, however, he does so in the body of the cat. Unable to communicate with his family that’s trapped in the body of a feline, the only person aware of his situation is Perkins, who explains that he needs to have a revelation, otherwise he’s never going to wake up from the coma, and instead be trapped in the body of Mr Fuzzypants for the rest of his life.
The opening act in Nine Lives is undoubtedly the most engaging, as Spacey plays the role of Brand with a devilish nature to his demeanour, nasty and narcissistic and downright reprehensible, but played with an affection of sorts, as though a pantomime villain. However when he ends up in a coma, the film follows suit, for we lose the one character that made the opening scenes so enjoyable to watch, as he becomes a mere voice-over, offering brief, contrived one-liners for the rest of the movie. To have an antihero of this nature does work however, and while Click remains the obvious comparison, it’s a concept dated back to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as Spacey represents a Scrooge like figure, needing an out of body experience to realise what a pain in the arse he’s being to everybody around him.
Nine Lives has its moments, but ultimately is not exactly the film you may have envisaged when hearing of a collaboration between Spacey and Walken. But if every bad film equated to a cat life, needless to say these two remarkable actors still have a fair few left.