Holiday Movie Review: The Nine Lives of Christmas

More animals in today’s review, this time though it’s a cat. Interestingly, we also have another Superman star, this time though it’s Brandon Routh. Welcome to The Nine Lives of Christmas.

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Within 30 seconds of this film starting I said, “This. Is. Amazing.”, which is a great beginning. There are so many cliches it’d be hard to list them all, but here’s a few:

  • Bachelor who can’t look after himself
  • Single career woman too busy for love (she’s a vet, rather than a baker, though, so that’s something)
  • Supermarket scene where two single people judge each other based on the content of their baskets
  • Cranky landlady
  • Sassy best friend
  • Irritating couple that want everyone else to be in a couple too
  • Confusing lie situation that spirals out of control

Here’s what my EPG had to say about the plot: “A confirmed bachelor takes in a stray cat and slowly starts to see the value of companionship”. Strap yourselves in!

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Strike a pose

Our film opens in a fire station, where Brandon Routh aka Zachary is being photographed draped across his truck and swinging an axe around. It’s for a charity calendar, guys! He’s a hero! (this point will be rammed home by many, many other characters, including a supermarket checkout girl who starts screaming that Zachary saved her life, a dinner guest who says “I admire you” whilst staring at him…)

But of course, Zachary is a bachelor! He might be able to pull kids out of a burning building, but he can’t so much as make a bowl of cereal! And the film lays it on thick: “I live alone, I don’t even have a plant cos it takes too much care”. Zach’s life is about to change though, because what’s this on the doorstep of his bachelor pad? It’s a cat! A cat called Ambrose, who he sort of takes in, even though he couldn’t possibly look after it because he can’t even tie his own shoelaces, etc etc etc.

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Enter Marilee (Kimberly Sustad), a trainee vet who also works at the pet shop. She works so hard though! She falls asleep in class! She eats ice cream out of the tub! She has a cat called Queenie! AHA! So both Zachary and Marilee have a cat! What could possibly be about to happen…?!

They first run into each other in the petfood aisle at the supermarket.Ā  They have a really weird conversation. She fancies the arse off him. He doesn’t seem to even know she exists. (This is starting to seem a bit like my life)

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Not pictured: ice cream

They keep running into one another in various situations – like at a restaurant, where he asks her “are you married?”, and she replies, “no, I’m focused on my education right now” – but nothing happens. How are our heroes going to get together? Well, there’s another hour and half to go, so there are going to be obstacles in their way. Here’s a massive one: his cat-hating girlfriend, Blair (I know, I thought he was a bachelor too, but I guess it’s bachelor in the sense of, not married) She claims to be a model in Vogue and to wear Gucci dresses, but all we need to care about is the fact she doesn’t like cats. She isn’t happy about Zachary having one. She holds poor old Ambrose at arms length and tries to pack him off to the shelter.

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Hard at work in the petshop, just before getting fired

Her dad runs the petshop where Marilee works and she gets Marilee fired. Eventually she also succeeds in shifting the cat which is very sad, because this was a very good cat, even the cat was good at acting.


Time for another list:

  • Zachary’s boss tells him “never trust a woman who doesn’t like cats”
  • Zachary breaks up with Blair cos she’s a woman who doesn’t like cats, and she says “I’m a professional model and you’re breaking up with me?”
  • Marilee makes up a story about having a boyfriend to get her sister off her case, who sounds suspiciously like our firefighter friend, except he’s called Brown Eyes, which set my gag reflex off.
  • She also says that her sister can meet him on 23rd December! Uh oh! Where is she going to find a fake boyf from in two weeks?!(this plotline starts and then goes absolutely nowhere, by the way)
  • Her fun friend says constructive things like, “do you want to die old and alone on a houseboat surrounded by cats and dogs and shattered dreams?”

Then Fate brings Zachary and Marilee back together – she finds Ambrose in the street, rescues him and takes him to the fire station, then he says he’ll take her to dinner to thank her. A side-note here: these firefighters really don’t do a lot of firefighting. They don’t do any, actually.

They have dinner and then when she comes home, there is zero snogging but a lot of evicting, as Marilee’s cranky landlady finds she’s keeping a cat in her apartment when she shouldn’t be. In a very rapid twist, Marilee somehow moves in with Zachary and basically rewires the place single-handed, which I think is supposed to demonstrate how badass she is.

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Domestic bliss

CUE MONTAGE TO MUSIC – they are painting (with cats), they are reading the newspaper (with cats), they do a talk to schoolchildren about fires (without cats) which are apparently started by dry Christmas trees, so take care to water yours this festive season.

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Talking the gingerbread men of America through fire safety

They’re in love but they don’t know it, and they’ve got approximately 20 minutes to sort this out. So they go Christmas tree shopping, which is about the only thing anchoring this film to the holiday season. And wouldn’t you know it, choosing a tree is a metaphor for finding a life partner? What if you pick the wrong one and you’re stuck with it? Yeah, this was an atrocious metaphor.

Her friend is like, even your cats love each other, why can’t you two clots just sort it out? Get some mistletoe, says friend, hang it in the house, if he kisses you on the cheek it’s a no, if he kisses you on the lips, it’s true love. And I note that despite pooh-poohing the idea, our Marilee does do it, then subtly hangs out under the mistletoe, which results in a big ole kiss. So Marilee thinks it must now be OK to invite him to her sister’s 23rd December party, but he panics and says no! Except she then sees him there with some dumb blonde and I’m fucking upset on her behalf, I was really rooting for Marilee here.

So she takes the cat and moves out.

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Observation: if her cat sat on the sofa, it would be entirely camouflaged

He’s all, I don’t need love, but his boss tells him not to be such a twat (I paraphrase) and to go and find her. Zachary says he can’t, because apparently this town is so massive and they kept running into each other five minutes ago but now that won’t happen?

But Ambrose reminds him (?) that she volunteers at the pet sanctuary so on with the sirens and the misuse of a fire engine, as Zachary rushes to tell her she’s competent and great and then all is well and true love reins.

This film had a lot of promise at the beginning, but it proved quite hard to write about, and I think that’s possibly because there were a few pointless attempts at plot twists that just didn’t go anywhere. I also found the ‘hilarious’ bloke banter at the fire station quite annoying, it was unnecessary given they were all really nice. But I did like all the Christmas decorations, and I found the character of Marilee to be a cut above the usual shit cliche career lady. Plus, the cats were brilliant.

All in all, I would recommend having this one on when you’re a couple of eggnogs in and quality control is starting to go out of the window.

About gnidrah

Television, books, music, sports, cooking. I only get paid for one of them. (Update: two of them!)
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10 Responses to Holiday Movie Review: The Nine Lives of Christmas

  1. collin0truckasaurus says:

    For some ungodly reason, I think I’ve seen this movie! So weird, right? Maybe I saw a different one with Brandon Routh playing a firefighter…
    These movies are so perfectly cliche and manipulative…It’d be annoying if it was slightly less obvious. It’s just engineered to appeal to women exactly like Marilee who know guys like Superman here, who is always running away scared and always dating the beautiful woman who doesn’t appreciate him (like Marilee would!!!) and of freaking course they all love cats. There’s probably another version of this script that is exactly the same except cross out cats and put in dogs. And of course he’s a firefighter.

  2. martinmegz says:

    I am 100% going to watch this if I can figure out where to stream it. I think about Brandon Routh from time to time and worry about him. He must have been so happy to get cast as Superman and thought his career was on a rocket ride, then that iteration of Superman failed and he kind of disappeared. He was like five years too early for the superhero craze. But also he’s super handsome and probably doing fine so I should keep my concern for myself.

  3. hotspur says:

    Was he the kind of firefighter who has to live at the firehouse for a certain number of days per month, or the kind who lives at home but dashes out when there’s a call? This is important. Living in the firehouse would be a great plot point if he was like, “I can see you on the 23rd, but not on the 24th through 31st because I’m living in the firehouse that week.” And it would ALSO be a great plot point if he was the live-at-home type, because then in almost every domestic scene there’d be a scanner squawking in the background and weird boops and beeps that signal different situations around town. I lived with a firefighter friend for a couple of years and his fiancee almost broke up with him one night when it was a “special dinner” and the scanner squawked the “Holy Cow, Big Fire Right Now” alert. Without a pause he leapt away from the table, grabbed his gear, and ran out of the house. I would like to see how our cat-lady handled that aspect of heroism.

    In other news that mistletoe move is hilarious.

    • Sota says:

      The only thing that would have made the mistletoe move better is if she got one of those mistletoe headbands where the mistletoe hangs in front of your face on a wire.

    • gnidrah says:

      He lives in a bachelor pad with no scanner BUT, is also a shit-hot property developer. He’s the sort that has a dark burgundy-coloured wall with a dozen white paint marks on it, and then tells someone that “that one’s eggshell, that one’s cream, that one’s ivory, which do you like best?” except they all look the same. (this scene really happened but was too dull for inclusion)

  4. wait, I have definitely seen this movie at some point. I remember Brandon Routh and cats but I literally could not tell you one single more detail than that even though I know I have definitely seen this.

  5. Fun fact in response to an aside in your review: firefighters in real life do very little fire fighting. My best friend is a firefighter and has had that dream since elementary school, which means we spent a lot of high school hanging out at fire stations for no reason on a Friday night. WE WERE SO COOL. But anyway, through that and his current employment I learned that firefighters spend most of their shifts doing very little and then have a few calls a night, but most of them are old ladies who have fallen. So yeah, that may have been an accurate part of the movie.

    (granted, the times when they do have to do work it’s really hard, so I don’t begrudge them sitting around)

    • gnidrah says:

      I agree 100%. My friend’s husband is a fireman. And tbh we should be glad they don’t have to face much danger, both for their sakes and those of the general public! However, I would have liked to see him do one tiny bit of work. I know. I’m a pedant. šŸ™‚

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