After several recent made-for-TV Christmas movies featuring dogs, including A Golden Christmas, A Golden Christmas 3: We Never Actually Made a 2, The Dog Who Saved Christmas, and The Dog Who Ruined Christmas But Later Saved It Again, it was about time we finally got some cats in the mix here. And that’s precisely what The Nine Lives of Christmas delivers. Cats in the mix. Cats and the guy who played Clark Kent/Superman in Superman Returns. Oh crap, I hope I didn’t just spoil that film for you by revealing that Clark Kent and Superman are indeed the same person. I guess it’s not that much of a twist but it may be the only thing I actually remember from that movie. And that Parker Posey was in it, which was kind of funny because she pretty much pretended like she was in another movie instead and I would have rather seen the one Parker Posey thought she was in.
But none of this has anything to do with the Nine Lives of Christmas so I apologize for that too. It’s about a (super) fireman named Zach and a veterinary school student pet shop worker named Marilee. He’s a great guy but doesn’t believe in true love because his parents got divorced and he missed the fact that there are people in this world and throughout time, other than his parents, who may have possibly been in love before. Marilee totally believes in love but she’s just too busy being good at school and work to have any time for it. Speaking of which, we learn that Marilee is good at her job because an older lady comes into the pet store and the other, less attractive friend employee is like, “Uh oh, there’s that terrible customer we all hate dealing with” and Marilee is like, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this” and she ends up helping the difficult lady and but the lady really isn’t all that difficult and so I say something like, “That was nothing compared to the middle-aged ladies in Hobby Lobby today” and then my wife says, “You should write that in your review.” So there, I just did it!
You may be asking yourself what Hobby Lobby is and why the middle-aged ladies are more difficult there and what it has to do with The Nine Lives of Christmas and I will tell you the answers are A) an arts & crafts store we have at least in California, B) certain types of middle-aged ladies in an arts & crafts store are always the worst, and C) nothing. But while I’m talking about Hobby Lobby and not The Nine Lives of Christmas, I do want to mention that I saw what I thought was a really terrible ornament in that place today. Check it out:
I know you probably know this but it’s a kid with a rifle holding a beheaded deer by the horns. I also know that some people hunt and love hunting but is this really the kind of thing you need to celebrate so graphically through Christmas decorations? It’s true that I love football and I do have some football ornaments on the tree but I don’t have any depicting Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Thiesmann’s leg on Monday Night Football in 1985. Oh yeah, and you know what else I have on my Christmas tree? Some ornaments with reindeer. Kind of traditional thing, you know, Santa Claus and his reindeer? Not to mention the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. So not only did the makers of this ornament I saw today figure it was cool to show a child holding a decapitated animal but specifically a deer, something we tend to cherish around the holidays.
Sorry I keep getting distracted here. I had a similar problem with Superman Returns. But I will try to get tracted and talk about the movie. The cats! Of course, I have to tell you how they factor in. I had guessed that Super Fireman would rescue a cat from a tree and that would get the whole thing started but really one just came in his house and wouldn’t leave and he tried to find its owner but it turned out she died and so he had to keep it and bring it to the fire station a lot. He has a girlfriend, sort of, who is wealthy and a model (bitch). She is emotionally allergic to cats and all animals so she tries to get him to just get rid of it.
But Super Fireman keeps crossing paths with Marilee and it’s clear they love each other. She has a cat too. Super Fireman’s sort of model bitch girlfriend’s daddy owns the pet store that Marilee works at and ends up getting Marilee fired because she is just that big of a bitch. When Super Fireman learns of this, he dumps the model and takes Marilee on what I believe is a date. Then after her mid-terms the next day, he shows up at school and takes her on what I believe is another date. This is all, like, 30-45 minutes into the movie. The two main characters have found each other, eliminated obstacles preventing them from being together, and seem like they are falling in love.
That leads to the main issue I have with The Nine Lives of Christmas. The ramp-up is kind of screwy. Because instead of getting together romantically, Super Fireman and Marilee continue to go on these pseudo dates, doing all the cute, sweet things couples do, and she even moves into the house he owns (she gets evicted from her apartment for having a cat) but still don’t get together. He actually built that house with his own hands, by the way, checking off another box on the Perfect Guy AND my Christmas Movie trope chart. But she’s afraid to make the first real move and he keeps stumbling around saying that they are not romantically-involved and that he doesn’t want to fall in love and blah blah blah. Believe me, I am well aware of what a common convention that is in these films but what makes this different is that Super Fireman continues to feel that way long after he spends a ton of time with Marilee and without the introduction of any other obstacles, it starts to make him look less like just one of those typical guys afraid of commitment and falling in love and more like a crazy person. Or just someone who doesn’t actually love Marilee. They even have a kiss under the mistletoe and then….nothing. Just more awkwardness despite the fact they keep on being more and more perfect for each other.
At some point, this becomes depressing to me. Of course I know that they are eventually going to get together but after all this time of them not, I’m worried that their impending relationship will not last. If they can’t make things work out when absolutely nothing is standing in their way and fate is pretty much gift-wrapping a romance for them, how they are going to hang in there long-term? Even when it finally dawns on Super Fireman that he needs to go after the girl, it doesn’t really dawn on him at all. His boss just kind of tells him that true love does exist and he should go for it and Super Fireman’s like, “Yeah, I guess so. But I don’t know where she is right now. Bummer. Oh well.” It’s like he doesn’t realize that he’s in a movie and you can always find the girl or stop a wedding or pull some kind of wild, romantic gesture to fix everything. Did Superman Returns teach him even less than it taught me? But the real heroes here are the cats, and his cat ends up at least telling him how to find Marilee by way of the newspaper. Then he shows up and of course they kiss but the whole thing is still pretty tepid, even by these films’ standards.
So with all that said, I can’t say I totally recommend The Nine Lives of Christmas. I wanted to give it a good review, I really did. Especially being an animal lover myself. Or at least, someone who thought that having a boy holding a decapitated deer head as a Christmas ornament was in bad taste. I didn’t hate anything or anybody in the movie but it did seriously bring me down a little bit and wasn’t ever crazy enough to be fun. In a Hallmark/Lifetime/Ion/Up Made-For-TV Christmas movie sense, I’m afraid it was pretty much…