In Theaters Today

This fall there are three movies with the number nine in the title: “District 9,” “Nine,” and “9.” They differ by more than just their decision to use the numeral or spelled-out word. Out today is “9,” the animated movie produced by Tim Burton that everyone is quite curious about. That curiosity will carry you through most of the movie and then abandon you feeling dumbfounded. It’s the full length version of the Oscar-nominated 2004 short film. And It’s a cross between Wall-E and the 7th Harry Potter book.

We begin in an old-timey inventor’s study as #9 (voiced by Elijah Wood) is just coming to life. He’s a burlap hacky sack with legs and is a few thumbs higher than Thumbelina. Looking out the window we see a rust colored, post-apocalyptic world straight out of Wall-E. But 9, and the other hacky sack creatures he finds along the way, lack the charm that won all our hearts in Wall-E. #2 (Martin Landau) comes close, but thanks to the brash and overly-confident acts of #9, he’s soon carried away by a robot cat.

To make up for his mistake, motivated mostly by pride rather than guilt, #9 enlists the bumbling, scaredy cat #5 (John C. Reilly) and the gazelle-like fighter #7 (Jennifer Connelly) to get back #2 from the robot cat. The Great Machine is awoken in the process and we learn that it was the cause of the end of civilization – thanks #9! Action scene upon action scene follow more to the frustration of the viewer than the excitement since #9 is so unlikeable.

“9” feels exactly like what it is: a short film stretched as far as could be into feature length. It lacks characters to root for while its plot lacks coherence and is revealed far too slowly. They chase after a button sized object for nearly the entire movie and only at the end is it given a name that seems wildly out of place in the future, “talisman.” These hacky sacks were created to carry on civilization but it’s unclear how pint-sized droids, even if they have a soul (this is where the horcruxes of HP7 come in), could continue life on earth. Especially when #9’s brazen actions lead to the death of half his friends.

Quirky-looking and impressively-animated characters could not hold up this film. So if you have to see a movie this fall with the number 9 in it, skip this one.