Kevin Spacey is one of Hollywood’s most respected living actors. An accomplished professional with a filmography that reads like a checklist of great American filmmaking of the late-20th century, his performances in films like Seven, The Usual Suspects, Swimming With Sharks, L.A. Confidential and American Beauty have made him one of the most sought-after and critically-praised dramatic actors in the business, while his current turn as Frank Underwood on the hit streaming series House of Cards has made him a giant in the world of television too. He’s also a lauded veteran of live theater, having served as artistic director of London’s Old Vic Theatre and done several turns on Broadway. In the course of his career, he’s won two Academy Awards, a BAFTA and has been nominated for multiple Emmys and Golden Globes.
Now comes the trailer for Spacey’s latest film, Nine Lives, in which he plays… a talking cat.
In the film, Spacey portrays a New York millionaire named Tom Brand, whose busy work life and focus on career have made him a stranger to his wife (Jennifer Garner) and young daughter. When his latest business event causes him to be late to his daughter’s birthday party (apparently not a rare occurrence) he aims to make up for it by buying her surprising her with a pet cat even though he himself despises the animals. Unfortunately, his quest takes him into a pet store that turns out to be operated by mysterious man with magical powers (Christopher Walken) who transforms Brand himself into a cat and delivers him to his family – where he now has one week to renew his emotional connection and learn what’s really important in his life or be trapped in the body of a cat forever.
The film, which mirrors the plot and tone of family comedies of the type that proliferated in the 1990s but have not been seen nearly as much since, was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, the former Coen Bros cinematographer who also directed the Addams Family and Men In Black movies along with the John Travolta hit Get Shorty. The screenplay is attributed to a total of five writers: Gwyn Lurie, Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Daniel Antoniazzi and Ben Shiffrin. While the project’s retro-aesthetic and familiar storyline had led many who viewed the earlier teaser for the film to wonder whether or not it was a parody as opposed to a film in its own right, the new trailer would seem to confirm that, yes, Nine Lives is an actual film that its cast have agreed to star in.
Unlike some other recent talking animal movies, which have utilized CGI in order to give animal characters moving mouths and humanlike expressions (Bill Murray in Garfield, for example) Nine Lives uses a real cat paired with Spacey’s vocals as an inner monologue a’la Aubrey Plaza in Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever – with FX saved for digital stuntwork that would presumably be unsafe to attempt with a live cat. The release comes amid a renewed interest in the genre, with Disney’s live-action Jungle Book (wherein Walken himself voices the Gigantopithecus “King Louie”) poised for a big opening weekend.
Spacey will next appear as U.S. President Richard Nixon in the historical comedy Elvis & Nixon opposite Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley. Garner most recently appeared in the faith-based drama Miracles From Heaven. Sonnenfeld will next tackle the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Nine Lives opens in U.S. theaters on August 5th, 2016.