Review | The Nine Lives of Christmas

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: November 28, 2017 (Last updated: January 18, 2024)
Nine Lives - Christmas

The Nine Lives of Christmas

Title The Nine Lives of Christmas
Director Mark Jean
Writer(s) Sheila Roberts (based on the book by), Nancey Silvers
Rating PG
Release Date November 8, 2014

What’s this?

After last week’s effort, A December Bride, I was about ready to just turn my back on Christmas completely. I was beginning to question why I had let myself watch just one of these dreadful Christmas TV movies. Thankfully, I think this week’s entry might be my salvation, the Clarence of TV movies that shows me the true joy of the festive season. On paper, The Nine Lives of Christmas seems to contain everything I love: Christmas, cats, and an actor who once did a fine Superman (despite a weak script).

I’m guessing from the title this has something to do with cats?

How did you guess? Zachary (Brandon Routh) is a fireman, and a rather dishy one at that. He likes to live life on his own, never tied down to anyone. Get this: when Zachary isn’t dashing into a burning building with a glistening six-pack, he also renovates and sells houses in his spare time. What a guy. All of this changes when Zachary rescues a cat from an overenthusiastic dog, and from then on Ambrose (the cat) effectively moves in. What Zachary didn’t realise was that whenever you save a cat from a dog the cat swears a life debt to you and cannot leave your side until the debt is repaid. Marilee (Kimberly Sustad) is an aspiring vet, with a part-time job in a pet shop to pay her way through school. Marilee doesn’t really have time to date or hang out with anyone other than her cat, Queenie. When Zachary and Marilee eventually bump into each other they both start to realise that there’s more to life than cats, glistening six packs, veterinary school and being single. Festive romance ensues.

Basically what you’re telling me is that this is a rom-com that takes place at Christmas and they both have cats?

That’s about the size of it really. The cats are pretty much the reason they end up meeting each other during a meet cute in the pet food aisle of a local supermarket. From there on out, they just keep being thrown together, cats and all, until the magic of the holidays (and their feline friends) leads them to happily ever after.

It sounds like a story I’ve seen before. What’s so great about The Nine Lives of Christmas?

In a word: cats. It’s probably fair to say that this is your standard, by-the-numbers rom-com. Two people who should be together but just don’t realise it until long after every other person on the planet is screaming “JUST KISS HER YOU FOOL!”. But here’s the thing: this film has cats. And let me tell you, Ambrose is a great cat and a great actor. A great cator, if you will.

You sound like you’re really into the feline element of the movie, but is it actually any good?

The cats are so good…

Nope. No more talk about the cats. What’s the film like?

Ok. So cats aside I actually enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would. Especially after the hell that was A December Bride. It won’t win any awards for originality, and to the best of my knowledge hasn’t won any. To date. However, it’s actually quite a nice, relaxing watch. Brandon Routh does a good job as the lead. I find he is usually incredibly watchable and here it’s no different. I’d never even heard of Kimberley Sustad before I saw this film but I really liked her. She was likeable and worked well with Brandon Routh, and the cats. I also really liked Zachary’s firehouse mates. Especially Chief Sam (Gregory Harrison), who was always on hard to dish out some life advice. In fact, all of the firehouse gang were good fun. For some reason they always felt like they were 5 seconds away from breaking into a delightful song (sadly this never happened).

Well done, you nearly made it through all of that without mentioning cats. It sounds a little bit schmaltzy?

Oh, it absolutely is, but in a nice way. It’s what I like to describe as a “Sunday night film”, something that’s pleasant and inoffensive without being too taxing.

Ok, that sounds quite nice then. Is there much Christmas in there?

Definitely. I mean there’s not much snow on the ground and it is incredibly sunny all of the time, despite supposedly being set during winter in Portland, but then again I think all of these Christmas TV movies are filmed at the height of summer. Christmas definitely does play a key role in the proceedings though, as Zachary slowly learns to really appreciate the holidays as the two of them grow closer together. It’s not overtly, in your face Christmassy, but there’s enough of a Christmas flavour in here to get you feeling some of that festive spirit.


Surprisingly, yes. I really enjoyed this film a lot more than I thought I would. Yes, it does have a lot of elements that I like (cats, Christmas, former Superman) but if last week’s film has taught me anything it’s that it is all too easy to have a terrible Christmas film. While it is pretty predictable, the leads are likeable and work well together, and it’s quite charming. Whereas A December Bride was removed from my DVR as quickly as possible, I’ve not actually deleted The Nine Lives of Christmas as yet. I might watch it again. If that’s not a recommendation I don’t know what is.

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