A Street Cat Named Bob (2016)4:18 PM
Sometimes It Takes Nine Lives To Save One
A Street Cat Named Bob is directed by Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies, The 6th Day) and stars Luke Treadaway (Unbroken, Clash of the Titans), Bob the Cat, Ruta Gedmintas (Prowl, The Strain) and Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Filth). "Based on the international best selling book. The true feel good story of how James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat". A bestselling book about a true story, does this peculiar story translate well to film?
Disclaimer: This review is written by somebody who is firmly a dog person and hates and is actually afraid of cats. However, somehow, A Street Cat Named Bob was able to temporarily change my view - Bob the Cat is adorable and charming but I still can't see myself feeling comfortable in the same room as him. Putting all of that to one side, I was pleasantly surprised by this film as it was actually very sweet, cute, inspiring and moving - even though it's on a very small scale and doesn't have much cinematic value, I would recommend this film if you just want to get out of the house because it almost guarantees a good time.
The story is definitely one of the strongest parts of this film - it is a true rags to riches tale. I thought the film portrayed the rise of James as a character very tastefully and very well - the film effectively gets you routing for the character. I think this film would get a pass just by that but then add in Bob the Cat and the film becomes quite unique and original - I guarantee you haven't heard a story quite like this before. The relationship between Bob and James is very adorable, they instantly connect. It was also interesting to see how James but Bob before himself. A Street Cat Named Bob tastefully covers issues such as homelessness and stray animals. I think it was very proactive for the film to show that everyone has a second chance and that it is up to the person to take it - this is inspiring to those who want more out of life and those who are in a very low place. This made me like James as a character even more because he actually wanted to improve his life - sometimes, homeless people give the impression they have just given up but it was inspiring to see someone do the opposite. Stray animals are another emotional subject and I thought the inclusion of the charity vets was nice to see - there is always support out there. Yes, this story is probably one positive out of a million negatives - but it definitely shows an example of how someone can get knocked up and get back again. The only negatives with the story are that it didn't go as deep or as dark as it could have done - one of the key moments which shows James' strength is when he is taken off of drugs completely. However, this stage in his recovery only fills less than 5 minutes of screen time - it could have been much more dramatic and discomforting to watch as I'm sure it was in real life. However, the film probably wanted to keep its 12A rating.
Another slight issue with the film is that it does lack cinematic value - in a world where going to the cinema can cost up to (or even more) than £15 per person, you kind of want to get a little more than ASCNB provides. Yes, it's a good film but it will still be as good on TV when the BBC are showing it at around Christmas in a couple of years. There wasn't anything too special about the cinematography either. Yes, there were some unique POV shots from the perspective of Bob which were refreshing but everything else wasn't exactly creative. However, I did like the way the film captured 'Britishness' - I thought this was quite a good representation and it was fun to see places I can recognise.
Whilst the acting wasn't terrible, it wasn't amazing either and I think Luke Treadaway should and could have done a much better job leading this film. Luckily, Bob the Cat is terrific and does most of the work. Well, not exactly - credit should go to Treadaway for being able to develop a believable chemistry with a cat but that couldn't have been too hard with such a special and talented cat such as Bob. I was also worried about Treadaway's accent as he kept dipping into both British and Australian - however, the film did eventually cover and explain this so it did make sense and wasn't a flaw in his performance. The supporting cast were all good - but by good, I mean TV-like performances. Gedmintas and Froggatt were both likeable and they actually felt quite relatable and applicable to real life - you see people around like this all of the time.
Music is another big part of A Street Cat Named Bob and whilst none of the songs are going to top the charts anytime soon and you probably won't listen to them after the film, they do fit the context and story very well. My personal favourite is Satellite Moments - when reprised later on in the film, it did have a part in making tears run down my face. Speaking of the feels, A Street Cat Named Bob is full of them. The finale truly is magnificent though and does bring the film up a lot - it is very uplifting and sent shivers down my spine. The way all of the key figures in James' life came back to support him was just really warming to see - you really did want to meet the guy himself and congratulate him. ASCNB has also been marketed as having festive vibes...does it? I would say it does and it definitely is a film you would watch in the winter on the run up to Christmas - the film seems to miss out Summer as part of the story as it jumps from winter to winter again. One Christmas song is performed and London in all its Christmas glory can be seen. The festive feel is an undertone but it definitely is there so if you're in need of your festive fix, this film is for you.
A Street Cat Named Bob truly did surprise me - I expected it to be a silly and stupid film about an animal I hate. However, it was able to briefly convert me to a cat fan - Bob was adorable and just a very talented cat, how can you not like him? He also basically helps to save a man which just makes him even better! The acting is a cut above mediocre but could and should have been better - this could have easily been an awards contender. The music is good and the story is inspiring - get the tissues ready as tears of happiness will likely run down your face, like they did mine. Forgettable and lacking cinematic value? Yes. But A Street Cat Named Bob is definitely worth seeing.
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