Welcome to Why Is Kevin Spacey A Cat? Week, a celebration of the film Nine Lives, being released this Wednesday. A celebration and yet also a pondering because, really, why is Kevin Spacey a cat?


I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with Nine Lives. All I remember is the teaser trailer appeared online and everyone was pretty sure it was a joke, except it wasn’t, but surely it was? Nope. It was a real movie. Starring Kevin Spacey as a cat. And since then I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release.

Nine Lives got me thinking about a lot things and I thought I'd make a week out of it on The 405 because I think even the scoffiest of scoffing individuals can find some joy in animal movies, and/or Kevin Spacey. I’ll be ending off the week with my thoughts on the film (finally) and hopefully I can finally answer the question we’ve all be asking: so, yeah, why is Kevin Spacey a cat?


When did live-action animal movies become uncool? Or is it just that I’m getting older? When I was a kid (oh jeez, here I go), animal movies were awesome and plentiful. Like, you totally wanted an animal starring in your film to make it cooler. At one point we lived in a world where animal movies were so cool there was a wannabe Babe movie. Now it seems like the animal trend has been replaced with quirky robots or Anna Kendrick (seriously, girl, take a breather). Keanu knew what was what, but that’s one film in a sea of many. It makes me wonder: if Nine Lives had come out in the 90s, would it have gotten so much flack? Also, would Kevin Spacey have starred in it?

Naturally this got me thinking about all the animal films I loved as a child (and also one that I loved last year). Let’s take a look back at some of my favourites, first with ones where animals talk.


This film was on my brothers' and my rotation (along with The Mighty Ducks and Space Jam) and I watched it dozens of times as a child. I actually haven’t seen it in years but I still remember that Shadow was the boss, Chance was fun, and Sassy was hard as nails because that cat fell down a waterfall and still survived. Sure, it’s surprising they didn’t understand the concept of “vacation” despite having a grasp of sarcasm and humour but that’s just what happens when you love your family that much. Beautiful.

CATS & DOGS (2001)

I still take offence to this film because it implies that cats are evil. Cats are NOT evil. Kevin Spacey knows, I know, Kate McKinnon knows—it’s time everyone else got on board. Still, this movie was piles of fun, full of animal espionage, animals wielding weapons, and how often is it Tobey Maguire gets to be a dog, right? Good on you, Tobey. Plus, Jeff Goldblum. Jeff. Goldblum.


This movie taught me that the strongest tag team is family. It also taught me that apparently dogs can wrestle. (Although according to the friend I saw it with, he uses a lot of illegal wrestling movies. FOR SHAME RUSSELL, FOR SHAME.) It’s been over a year and to be honest I am still processing this movie but it’s got everything: drama, suspense, sweet wrestling moves, spandex, a monkey that can speak both human AND dog.


The Babe sequel, directed by George Miller (who recently directed a little film called Mad Max: Fury Road) is arguably better than the first film and is actually a solid film outside of the “animal movies” genre. Yes, yes, we all love the farmer singing him better with that song, and how Babe recites the sheep speech, but Pig In The City is still better. It’s more intense, darker, and almost dystopian. Basically it’s what happens when George Miller directs an animal movie. (He also wrote Babe so imagine if he'd directed that too.)


Fact: here is nothing better than a movie featuring Eddie Murphy talking to animals. Especially if one of those animals is voiced by Norm MacDonald. And another by Chris Rock. The original is classic but this one isn’t so bad either. After I saw this movie as a kid I wished so damn hard to be able to talk to animals. I realize now it wouldn’t have actually been that great because a) my cat is not voiced by a famous actor and b) he probably wouldn’t be full of wisecracks and puns.

And that's really what the talking animal genre is all about, isn't it? We so desperately wish that we could talk to our pets and that they could talk to us and that also that they were hilarious. Well guess what: they probably aren't. Dog humour would be a real drag and cats are too cool for jokes. And animals don't actually want to be spies. They want to eat and sleep and eat some more because they have figured life out better than us. Still, that doesn't take away from the fun of these films or production companies dreaming up what ridiculous human-like shenanigans animals can get up to next.

Air Bud Productions, bless them, keeps doggedly (ha) exploring the animal genre (out soon is American Idol... with dogs!) but it just doesn't feel the same. Probably because I'm not a kid anymore but also because the dog didn't actually talk in the original. Tomorrow I'll be looking back at Air Bud and a few more of my favourite non-talking animal films.