In 2016 A Street Cat Named Bob introduced audiences to a stray ginger cat (Bob) who helped a recovering drug addict turn his life around. That movie was based on an international best seller co-written by the man whose story it told, James Bowen. It was a charmer. Now Luke Treadaway returns as Bowen in the sequel, A Christmas Gift From Bob.
In this film, Bowen is facing the threat of losing his precious sidekick. Bowen chances upon a fellow busker who is sleeping rough and is picked on by a particularly officious law enforcement officer. In trying to help out this busker, Bowen turns back the clock to Christmas past and relates the story of what happened to him (Bowen). Back then, Bowen was living in squalid, freezing conditions with Bob and his busking was earning barely enough to make ends meet. Even though he had a roof over his head and the support of a lovely young lady from a charity operation, along with the wisdom and positivity of the manager of the local convenience store, Bowen’s future remained uncertain.
When his cat was set upon by a dog and later when Bob got sick, Bowen’s equilibrium was thrown. Added to that was pressure from those policing the animal rights laws and you had a precarious situation.
I’m afraid I felt this follow up, though well-meaning, lacked substance – unlike the original. I found the script by Gary Jenkins (who ghosted the original novel with Bowen) short on creativity and long on platitudes. All of it appeared manufactured to solicit sympathy, but lacked authenticity. Charles Martin Smith’s (A Dog’s Way Home) direction felt manipulative and that detracted from my enjoyment.
Treadaway maintains the gracious wariness that characterised his role in the first film. Kristina Tonteri-Young’s passion for the cause as charity worker Bea is immediately evident, while Moody’s (Phaldut Sharma) home-spun wisdom, after his own trials, is a distinguishing feature.
Still, I am afraid all of that wasn’t enough to carry the day for me.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Anna and the Apocalypse – movie review
- The Man Who Invented Christmas – movie review
- Darkest Hour – movie review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.