Had “Bob” been a dog, I would have been first in line to see this flick. However, Bob being a cat, meant the film inspired a little less pre-viewing excitement in me. Hang on! Put down the knives cat ladies; I’m no feline-hater! But they just don’t stir the same warm and fuzzies in me that a pooch does…perhaps it’s the fact that I can’t seem to pat any cat (even ones that apparently know and like me) without the fluffy beast swiping at me, claws out, ready to gouge flesh. However, Christmas spirit and cute animals seem a purr-fect match, so I thought I’d give A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM BOB a go.
A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM BOB is the sequel to the 2016 film A STREET CAT NAMED BOB. I admittedly haven’t seen the first flick, but GIFT FROM BOB works well as a stand alone film; you won’t find yourself lost if you are in the same situation as me. The synopsis for GIFT FROM BOB is skinny, as the narrative is pretty slim. The movie centres around reformed drug addict/busker, James Bowen (and his cat Bob), reminiscing about their experiences during a past down-and-out Christmas. James encounters a number of challenges that may seem “small fry” to those happily employed with a full pantry and a warm house to go back to every day, but are ultimately devastating to those on the brink of homelessness. None of these obstacles, however, are quite as catastrophic (see what I did there?!) as the threat posed by Animal Welfare who consider taking James’ beloved Bob away.
It’s a simple, predictable and corny feel-good story, with a double helping of cheese due to the combination of Christmas spirit and cute, fluffy cast member. There is not much in the way of an epic dramatic arc, but be careful not to miss an important message buried within this feel-good tale. It is estimated 28% of London’s population lives in poverty – that’s 2.5 million people (Western Australia’s total population is approximately 2.7 million). There’s also the underlying, but always present, issue in England of “Excess Winter Deaths”; avoidable fatalities from cold, argued to be caused – or at least greatly exacerbated by – residents’ inability to afford adequate heating. GIFT FROM BOB is certainly not preaching, and at no point do you feel lectured to. However, its seemingly fluffy narrative does carry some weight.
The cast is cute and likeable, even if it does feel a little like a made-for-TV movie at times. Bob the cat (who plays Bob!) is the world’s most well trained puss and is quite the scene stealer. Director Charles Martin Smith, knows what he’s doing when it comes to animal-flicks, with his past works including A DOLPHIN TALE, A DOG’S WAY HOME and AIR BUD. Smith balances the human/animal elements well, with just enough focus on both cat and human relationships.
A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM BOB may not push any boundaries, nor will it surprise you at any point. However, it will make you smile…and maybe even shed a little tear. It’s a nice film to watch at Christmas, particularly if COVID has got you down.
I rate it 6 / 10.