A Street Cat Named Bob is based on a true story, but Frances Winston feels that they should have made it for either adults or children, as it suffers from falling between the two
Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode – Starring: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head, Bob the Cat
A Street Cat Named Bob is based on the true story of former drug-addicted, homeless street musician, James Bowen, who found salvation when he rescued a stray cat he called Bob. His story was turned into a best-selling book, now inevitably it hits the big screen.
Treadaway takes on the role of James, and when we meet him he is at an all-time low. After accidentally overdosing, his support worker, Val (Froggatt) sees that he really wants to get clean, and finds him a place in sheltered housing. When a cat breaks into his flat one night, it is the beginning of an enduring friendship, and soon Bob is accompanying him on his busking excursions, and sitting on his shoulder as he sells the Big Issue.
This is the kind of story you would see on Oprah, about how someone managed to come back from the brink and turn their life around. So much has been written about this (and the story has spawned a few books at this stage) that it is not a spoiler to say that James is now doing rather well for himself. Indeed it is a remarkable tale, and made all the better as Bob is played by the real-life Bob the Cat in this movie.
However, it is billed as a family film, and I would say that there are some harrowing scenes of James detoxing that may not be suitable for a younger audience. Even the books were adapted so that there is a children’s version, rather than the warts-and-all grown up offerings.
That aside, this is a lovely story. Treadaway gives a great performance as James. He manages to convey his hopelessness and despair, while always retaining a determination that things can get better. He also works well with Bob, and you really believe in their relationship. Dramatic licence has been taken with the story in parts, and some segments are a bit cheesy and schmaltzy, but the fact that you know most of this really happened ensures that A Street Cat Named Bob remains hopeful and heartwarming.
While I enjoyed this film, I do feel that they have snookered themselves somewhat in trying to appeal to both adults and children. James’ story is pretty gritty, and they have watered it down somewhat, which some adults will feel makes it too tame, but equally – as I said earlier – it is not quite anaesthetised enough for a younger audience.
A Street Cat Named Bob could have been really gritty or else really sweet, but it now sits somewhere in the middle. Despite that, it is impossible not to feel the warm and fuzzies after watching it.
If you want a nice gentle watch that will leave you smiling, then this film is for you.
In Cinemas November 4th!