Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Starring Luke Treadaway, Bob the Cat, Ruta Gedmintas
In many ways A Street Cat Named Bob is a bullet-proof film. Any qualms a critic may have about the way this film is shot and constructed fade in comparison to the overwhelming power of internet cat videos. It’s hard to imagine anyone screwing up such populist source material (well, besides the regurgitated furball that was Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, and let’s never speak of that again). Based on the best selling autobiography of James Bowen (who gets one of the best lines for a cameo I’ve ever heard), and starring Bob the Cat as himself, this is a film that is drenched in sentimentality, but manages to deliver on entertainment.
James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) is struggling to complete a methadone program. Until recently homeless, he has managed to isolate himself from family and friends during his addict days. That is, until a stray ginger tom breaks into his kitchen one night and decides to adopt an owner. Soon James and Bob (Bob) are finding that as a busking team they have an unbeatable charisma, but life is rarely a smooth road for a recovering drug addict striving to make a living.
In terms of construction and script, this is in many ways a rather average film. Spottiswoode (Turner and Hooch) leans heavily into the sentimentality of its subject mater, relying on many tropes of its genre (both in terms of animal films and recovering addicts). Then there is also the incessant use of animal point of view shots, creating a film that is often badly constructed hand-held shots at unusually low angles. It’s an effect that obviously doesn’t work, yet it makes up a quarter of the film.
Still, none of that matters in the end. Audiences are led on such an impactful emotional voyage, as to not care. There is an undeniable appeal to this film, despite its faults.
Most of that is Bob.

It’s hard to overstate the charisma of this moggy. The camera just loves him. He has a stage presence unseen since Jones the Cat (Alien). Bob steals every scene. No wonder he become an internet sensation.
In many ways I feel sorry for Treadaway. Here’s an actor that has spent years honing his craft, and his audition must have been dependent on his screen chemistry with a cat. Still, he does a good job in the role of James, and he actually does seem to have great chemistry with Bob.
That’s really all there is to this, a feel-good story that is remarkably appealing based on its stars and subject matter. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, but those elements are in just the right proportion to produce something that is pleasant and heart-warming.


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