As a little girl I was entranced by the movie That Darn Cat. This 1965 tale of a Siamese following a bank robber starred Hayley Mills and was packed full of charm. After watching that film, I then wanted to see every movie which featured an animal! I loved the dogs in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I adored The Incredible Journey and I cried buckets watching the memorable Ring of Bright Water. I was also completely obsessed with Born Free and had a toy lioness which I called Elsa.
Of course, in those days, the antics of the animal stars were limited to what the real animals could be trained to do. Which was quite a lot as it turned out. But the animal actors could not deliver the characterisations which have been made possible by computer generated imagery (CGI). Now our favourite pets and wild animals can be made to do anything the script writer's imagination can conjure.
Cats and Dogs
I first realised the incredible potential of the new technology when I saw Cats and Dogs. This was one of the few films which has ever made me laugh out loud in a cinema. The film managed to capture the idiosyncrasies of the animals perfectly and the scheming Mr Tinkles was disconcertingly like my own cat Yasmin in both appearance and character! Unfortunately pets brought to life by CGI have created a bandwagon onto which many a movie maker has jumped only to produce a poor and predictable offering. You can have too much of a good thing!
It would appear that the next movie to feature a cat is about to fall flat on its face. At least if the trailer is anything to go by. Nine Lives is coming to a screen near you soon but may not prove to worth the investment in a ticket to see it. On the face of it, Nine Lives offers plenty to please. It stars the fabulous and talented Kevin Spacey and is the tale of a rich businessman who finds himself in a cat's body. So far so good then. But the script is so cliched that it would bore the average five year old. The movie looks like the ultimate example of the Americans' need to explain everything to the audience as if they suffer from severe learning difficulties. It over moralises and regularly delivers banalities like "I wish I had been a better father". Film lovers will wish that it had boasted a better scriptwriter. The cat in Nine Lives is cute enough but the film just isn't funny and it had to be because of the improbable premise on which it is based. One wonders what inspired Kevin Spacey to get involved with this production. He must surely have choices when it comes to his work. With Nine Lives he has almost certainly backed the wrong horse - or cat! I fear that this is a film which will only have one life and quite a short one at that.