Hallmark Christmas: The Nine Lives of Christmas Recap/Review

By (Avocado) popular demand, I’m covering The Nine Lives of Christmas. It’s a mystery as to why people chose this film…

Is there a cat? By gum, there is! Is the cat named Christmas? It better be, otherwise this is a stupid title. Let’s read the synopsis, shall we?

Fireman Zachary Stone (Routh) is a confirmed bachelor who doesn’t believe in love or commitment. When a stray tabby cat named Ambrose shows up at his door, Zachary takes him in and slowly starts to see that a little companionship might not be so bad after all. Zachary’s commitment to solitude is further challenged when he meets Marilee (Sustad), an animal lover and veterinary student who teaches Zachary how to care for his new feline roommate. Chemistry immediately develops between the two, but will they find a way together despite themselves?

In a change of pace, we kick off with the male lead, Zachary. He’s in the firehouse getting a series of pictures taken because he’s a hot piece. The rest of his fire buddies laugh at him.

The difficult life of a hot fireman.

The photoshoot is interrupted by the fire alarm. While he’s changing into his gear so that he can take care of a disaster that presumably involves fire, the photographer woman gives him her card and hits on him. This is inappropriate under most circumstances; in this case, it’s wildly so. A firefighter buddy is blown away by Zachary’s ability to attract women.

We leave the firefighting scene and move into a busy classroom. A man is teaching the group about cat innards. While this might be riveting to you, this kind of chat puts our heroine, Marilee, to sleep.

After class, Marilee’s friend tells her that she works too much and that to fix this, she should go on a dating app. Because scheduling dates with strangers will really fix her problem of not having enough time to do things. Marilee shrugs it off and heads to her job at the pet shop.

Upon returning home, the hunky fireman finds a stray cat and takes care of it, making him one dead parent away from being the absolute perfect Hallmark man.

Fire alarm going off in the ovaries, amiright?

He finds that the cat’s name tag says Ambrose and the fussy feline won’t leave him alone. The firefighter doesn’t know much about cats as he gives it milk. Kitty diarrhea, here we come!

Back at Marilee’s, the poor wannabe vet gets aggressively approached by her landlady. She accuses Marilee of having a cat, something that Marilee denies wholeheartedly. But she’s a liar. She has a cat and is breaking tenancy rules. Marilee then proceeds to talk to her illegal cat about her day.

At the firehouse, Zachary tries to shift Ambrose the cat onto his coworkers, but they start spouting fun Cat Facts™ in an attempt to get their friend to keep the kitty. The conversation quickly shifts from cats to relationships. The whole firehouse is jealous of Zachary’s ability to date women. Never mind that they’re all married. The problem with this eligible bachelor is that he has no intention of ever getting hitched. Will no one tame this wild stallion?

We catch up with Marilee who is doing more relatable things such as buying the MASSIVE tub of ice cream instead of the little one.

She’s really ticking those “cat lady” boxes.

She runs into Zachary who is struggling to buy cat food because he’s now basically keeping the cat that CLEARLY belongs to someone. Marilee fumbles through the conversation, going so far as to say the word “diarrhea,” but manages to give him good advice on cat food. Zachary spots the tub of ice cream and asks if she’s having a party. Marilee will surely cry into her ice cream that evening.

Meanwhile, Zachary keeps attracting the ladies.

Zachary goes home to finish painting his house. In his spare time, he fixes and flips houses. He asks the cat for advice on a suitable color, but cats are notorious for not giving opinions or talking. The doorbell rings and a blonde in a Gucci dress arrives (it’s definitely NOT a Gucci dress). Apparently, this is his vapid model girlfriend, Blair. There is no other dimension to this character. She catches wind of Ambrose and expresses her disgust.

The couple heads to a fancy restaurant. It just so happens that Marilee and her sister (and her sister’s husband but he’s of no consequence) also intend on eating there. Sister Sarah tells Marilee to slow down with all the books and start focusing on getting that ring, honey! To get her sister off her back, Marilee lies and says she’s dating a firefighter. Sarah is chuffed.

This is WAY TOO excited. You shouldn’t react like this when someone says they’re dating someone.

While Marilee is getting grilled, Zachary is stuck talking to a man who works in “the stock market.” He takes a break and runs into Marilee who is also escaping her horrible dinner. They proceed to get into a discussion about true love which, in reality, is very weird. But for Hallmark, it’s a discussion point as natural as weather chat. Marilee makes it weird and talks about how mountain lions get it on.

Marilee then goes home to talk to her cat.

At school, Marilee talks to her human friend about how she made up a boyfriend just to impress her little sister. The friend tries to convince her to go on a dating site by saying “Do you want to die old, alone in a house surrounded by cats and dogs and shattered dreams?”

I understand why Marilee talks to her cat so much.

Zachary hands Ambrose to his model girlfriend. She insists that her father, the pet shop owner, will put him in a good home. Bratty Blair and Zachary visit the pet shop which also happens to be the same one that Marilee works in. Blair pushes Marilee to adopt the cat, but she can’t. Blair suggests that they put it in a shelter. Everyone (including Ambrose) objects. The wannabe model gets peeved by all of this and gets Marilee fired…on her birthday!

The next day, Zachary visits the pet store and discovers that Marilee’s been fired. He tries to track her down to apologize but hits a bunch of dead ends. The head of the firehouse has a heart to heart with Zachary about how Marilee could be “the one.” The younger fireman stays skeptical.

Zachary turns to Ambrose for advice again. Ambrose offers no help.

Blair arrives at Zachary’s and they proceed to have a discussion about Marilee and the cat. The fireman breaks up with the Sears model. She doesn’t take it well.

Sarah takes Marilee out for a day of pampering and dress shopping. DEAD PARENT ALERT! Marliee’s parents died when they were young, so Marilee basically raised Sarah. This is why she’s so conscientious and doesn’t take time for herself. There are probably other issues, but there’s not enough time in the film to deal with that.

Skipping through a series of forced events, Marilee finds Ambrose alone and takes him to the firehouse. She hands the kitty over, much to Zachary’s delight. He apologizes for the whole firing thing and informs her that he’s no longer dating Blair. Marilee fumbles her way through this encounter, too. The firehouse pushes Zachary to ask Marilee on a date. The woman agrees, but only if she can pick the place.

They go to a taco truck. Marilee may be the most relatable character in all of Hallmark-dom.

Marilee explains that she wants to be a vet because her dead parents liked animals. Zachary became a firefighter because his house caught on fire when he was 14. Can’t we have characters do things because of normal reasons, not tragic ones?

The next day, Zachary surprises Marilee after her vet test with a coffee visit. They have a lovely time, but it comes crashing down when Marilee discovers that the landlady is evicting her for having cat. Zachary tells Marilee she can live with him in the house he’s trying to flip. THIS IS ALL VERY NORMAL.

They bond as they live together. Marilee makes dinner and fixes the house, Zachary takes her to firehouse things, they go on jogs, they find a Christmas tree. Both get hassled by their friends, both deny any feelings.

The cats are into each other though.

What with all the coupley stuff they’re doing, Marilee is a little confused by the status of the relationship. Marilee takes her friend’s suggestion and puts up mistletoe to test whether or not the dude likes her.

Zachary loses his mind over this and plants a fat one on her.

Unfortunately, the kiss that HE initiated makes him freak out. He begins giving the cold shoulder and rejects Marilee’s invitation to her sister’s party. A disappointed Marilee attends the party and who should be there? Zachary. He said he had a work thing. He lied or something like that. Marilee appears to have an asthma attack and rushes out of the place.

She’s super sad about how things are going.

Marilee decides to jump ship from the house. Zachary is flabbergasted and tries to trick her back in by saying something about how the cats love each other. Marilee plays it cool and tells him that she’ll set up a cat play date in the new year. This is what you get for jerkin’ people around, ZACH! ALSO CATS DON’T FEEL LOVE LIKE YOU AND I!

Time marches on and Zachary calls Marilee to voicemail her a happy Christmas. Marilee looks up at a CGI star in the sky. This is how they try to make sense of their relationship. Zachary comes to a conclusion.

Zachary also dresses up as Santa and asks Ambrose for more help.

Marilee is at a pet event when she hears a fire engine. It’s Zachary! (The cat told him to find her there.) The couple finally clears up their relationship misunderstandings. They stand on top of the fire engine, say “I love you”, and kiss.

Also, the two cats hook up.

I liked Brandon Routh. He was…likeable. I’ve run out of words. I’m not a cat person, but I think the cats were cute. Generally, I think it was a sweet film and that was mainly because of the actors. They were just nice people. The story was a pretty nutso in many ways. It was also somewhat refreshing to have the heroine pursue a STEM profession rather than the ones they usually assign them (marketing/magazines/cupcakes). The film was still absurd, but it’s probably the best one of the ones I’ve watched. A low bar, but let’s just count it as a win.

Rating: Five cat poops.


  • Superman is the male lead.
  • A woman who has ambitions? I think I’M in love.
  • There’s actually chemistry between the two leads in a Hallmark film??
  • Marilee is cute.
  • Marilee is meant to be 29. Hello, spinster city!
  • For a model, Zachary’s girlfriend has terrible taste in clothing.
  • The firehouse is a gossip factory.
  • Marilee bumbles a conversation and says the phrase “sleeping together” which is quite risqué for Hallmark!
  • That “I love you” came pretty darn quickly.
  • Zachary is almost never changes out of his fireman’s uniform, but that’s not for me to judge.