Imagine a world in which someone that is a cross of Richard Branson and Donald Trump (before Trump decided that trying to become President was a good idea) turns into a cat. That may sound quite far out, but it’s pretty much what happens in Nine Lives, which Little Miss C and I went to see a VIP screening of this morning.
Tom Brand (played by Kevin Spacey) is that Branson / Trump amalgamation. A man who goes in for the publicity stunts that Branson always uses with his Virgin brand, but with Trump’s determination to always beat the competition – in the film’s example in terms of having the tallest building in the northern hemisphere.
Work is sadly far more important to Brand than his family, in particular his daughter Rebecca. Over the years he’s missed many of her birthdays, but with her 11th fast approaching he realises that he really needs to do something special this time round. Rebecca tells him she wants a cat as a present. He’s not keen, but after seeking the advice of his board he realises that the solution is probably to give Rebecca what she wants.
Brand goes to visit Purrkins Pet Shop where proprietor Mr Perkins (cast wonderfully as Christopher Walken) explains to him that people do not choose cats, cats choose people. Cue a rather straggly feline who at that moment strolls across the shop counter before attaching himself to Brand. Welcome Mr Fuzzypants.
It looks as if Tom is about to give his daughter what she’s been dreaming of and finally make up for all these missed birthdays over the years, but films aren’t that straightforward and on his way home he has to call into work to sort something out and before you know it he finds himself at the top of a very tall building, in a thunderstorm, with Mr Fuzzypants. This bizarre turn of events leads to Tom being trapped inside Mr Fuzzypants body, whilst his own body is laid up in a coma in hospital.
Much to Tom’s great frustration Mr Fuzzypants is then welcomed into the Brand family home by Rebecca and her mum Lara, and Tom suddenly sees family life from a very different angle.
To me Nine Lives was like the bringing together of two different types of films. Firstly there is the slapstick comedy side of things that centres around Mr Fuzzypants. As well as six year old Little Miss C, I was also with Being a Mummy and Daddacool’s seven year old daughter this morning, and both girls thought Mr Fuzzypants was absolutely hilarious. Some of what he got up to did seem to go over their heads a bit – especially the bit where Mr Fuzzypants breaks into Tom’s spirits cabinet and finds a way to get bourbon out of a decanter and into a bowl for him to drink – but that didn’t really seem to matter to them. It was funny all the same.
Running in parallel with the slapstick though was a more grown up storyline in which Tom realised that his obsession with work was risking him his relationship with both is daughter and wife (who it turns out was planning to leave her husband) and also where his work colleagues plan to sell off the Firebrand company whilst Tom lies in a coma. I’m pretty sure that most of this storyline went over the kids’ heads, and in a way I’m glad. Tom’s ex-wife’s drink problem wasn’t really something I was wanting to explain to a six and seven year old on a Sunday morning!
Overall, I quite liked Nine Lives. There was enough of a storyline to keep me interested and Mr Fuzzypants and the whole concept behind him was quite funny. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as a pure children’s film though if that makes sense, but that often seems to be the way with films these days.
Nine Lives goes on general release in the UK on 5 August 2016. Runtime of 87 minutes. Universal Certificate.
Disclaimer: On behalf of Being a Mummy, we attended the VIP screening of Nine Lives. All opinions are my own.