7.5 out of 10
Release date: 3rd November 2016
Director: Roger Spottiswoode (The 6th Day / James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies / Mesmer / And The Band Played On / Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot / Air America / Turner & Hooch / Shoot To Kill / The Best of Times / Under Fire / Terror Train)
Cast: Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head, Darren Evans, Beth Goddard, Lorraine Ashbourne, Nina Wadia, Tony Jayawardena, John Henshaw, Akbar Kurtha, Ivana Basic with Ruth Sheen and Caroline Goodall
Writer: Tim John & Maria Nation / James Bowen & Garry Jenkins
Solid, piece of family entertainment with a bit of an edge, this true story of a recovering drug addict, who becomes an overnight sensation because of his devoted cat, Bob, could have been yet another piss-weak TV-movie. That A Street Cat Named Bob actually has something going for it is a pleasant surprise.
This real-life aspirational story is the very modern kind that it may not have caught the nation’s imagination if it wasn’t for viral social media. James, (LUKE TREADAWAY – FORTITUDE) a Big Issue vendor and busker, gets given a second chance when his case worker Val (JOANNE FROGGATT – DOWNTON ABBEY) and finds him a flat. He is soon befriended by a stray cat, who he calls Bob. Bob is devoted to him and follows him everywhere, even when he goes busking or on his errands. Sitting atop of his shoulders. Life isn’t all rosy for James, as he’s still a few steps from finishing his methodone programme. The temptations to take heroin are all around him, not least when he lives in a very run down area, where dealers lurk on every street, and an old friend from the streets, Baz (DARREN EVANS – HUNKY DORY) shows up expecting help. His father has a new family who really hate him, and he’s an embarrassment to them all, so his support network is social services, Bob, and the most groomed crusty in the history of movies, neighbouring dog walker, Betty (RUDA GEDMINTAS – THE INCIDENT). Eventually he’s happened upon by a local journalist after becoming a YouTube sensation and this leads ot having his life story written and published in a series of books (leading to this film).
Thankfully, we’re not quite in the realms of Richard Curtis’ London but there is still a disconnect with real life with the lack of true-grit, dirt and shit of being a drug addict. It’s still a fairly cheery film that only touches base with many of the issues at its core. One character talks about The Big Issue being a gateway job, you know, like marijuana is a gateway drug. Well, if this thought-piece masquerading as light entertainment gets people staying away from drugs then all is well. As a gritty film in the style of Nil By Mouth is niche with a limited audience. And it’s probably preaching to people in the know already – a film about a man with the cat, could act as a trojan horse and actually raise awareness of very real issues to people of the right age – young adults, as well as grannies, mums and dads.
So a big well done to the makers, and of course to the real life James and Bob for giving the ‘disinterested’ something a bit spiky to chew on. Luke Treadaway is superb and well-cast. He doesn’t take the easy route and go for cute, he is convincing in every way and it’s a big deal that he wins hearts and minds whilst being upstaged by a cheeky cat. Predictable but never smug, this is the kind of commercial film the British Film Industry should get behind and produce a few more of. True life stories that genuinely inspire.
7.5 out of 10 – A trojan horse of a movie, that smuggles some difficult facts and plot lines into a fcute animal film for families. One of the best mainstream British movies for years.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Luke Treadaway: Fortitude (TV), Ethel & Ernest (voice), Unbroken, The Rise, Get Lucky, Cheerful Weather For The Wedding, You Instead, St George’s Day, Attack The Block, Heartless, Killing Bono, Brothers Of The Head
- Ruta Gedmintas: The Incident (2017), The Borgias (TV), Prowl, You Instead
- Joanne Froggatt: Mary Shelley, Bob The Builder (voice) (TV), Starfish, Downton Abbey (TV), Still Life, Filth, UWantMe2KillHim?, In Our Name, Coronation Street (TV)
- Anthony Head: Despite The Falling Snow, Convenience, Percy Jackson 2, The Inbetweeners Movie, The Iron Lady, Merlin (TV), Ghost Rider 2, Sparkle, Little Britain (TV), Imagine Me and You, Fat Slags, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV), A Prayer For The Dying, Howard’s Way (TV)
- Darren Evans: Hunky Dory, Summer Scars
- Beth Goddard: Casualty (TV), Gimme Gimme Gimme (TV), Ellington (TV), Peak Practice (TV), Cracker (TV)
- Lorraine Ashbourne: Adult Life Skills, The Interceptor (TV), Child 44, The Selfish Giant, Oranges and Sunshine, A Bunch of Amateurs, Playing The Field (TV), The Martins, Fever Pitch, Jack and Sarah, Resurrected, Distant Voices Still Lives
- Nina Wadia: Finding Fatimah, Still Open All Hours (TV), Amar Akbar & Tony, Holby City (TV), Still Open All Hours (TV), Eastenders (TV), Keith Lemon, I Can’t Think Straight, White Teeth (TV), Goodness Gracious Me (TV), Such a Long Journey, Sixth Happiness
- Tony Jayawardena: Tower Block, Screwed (2011)
- John Henshaw: Cilla (TV), The Angel’s Share, In Our Name, Looking For Eric, Starter For 10, Someone Else, Born & Bred (TV)
- Akbar Kurtha: The Disappearance of Lenka Wood, Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3, 24 (TV), Syriana, Doctors (TV), My Son The Fanatic, Bhaji On The Beach
- Ivana Basic: Casualty (TV), Doctors (TV)
- Ruth Sheen: Prime Suspect (TV), SuperBob, A Royal Night Out, Mr Turner, Welcome To The Punch, Another Year, Heartless, Hush Your Mouth, All Or Nothing, Vera Drake, The Young Poisoner’s Handbook, High Hopes
- Caroline Goodall: The Best of Me, Nymphomaniac, Mental, The Cold Light of Day, Dorian Gray, My Life In Ruins, The Thief Lord, The Chumscrubber, Chasing Liberty, The Princess Diaries, White Squall, Hotel Sorrento, Disclosure, Schindler’s List, The Silver Brumbie, Cliffhanger, Hook