(Reviewed by John Glennie)
This movie is the sequel to A Street Cat Named Bob which tells the true story of ex-heroin addict James Bowen who is “adopted” by Bob – a super cute ginger cat (and I’m a dog lover!). Bob helped James get clean after going off the methadone program. James and Bob became celebrities with James busking in London streets with Bob proving a massive drawcard, going everywhere with James sitting on his shoulder. James was persuaded to write a book about their story and relationship. I hadn’t seen the original but was urged to watch it first – that turned out to be great advice and I strongly urge you to do the same if you intend to watch this delightful movie.
A Christmas Gift is the continuing story of that heart-warming relationship. The movie opens with James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) and Bob (playing himself) attending a writer’s award presentation where James was declared Writer of the Year for his book A Street Cat Named Bob. Coming out of the venue he comes across a busker pinned face down and being harassed by a particularly nasty security guard. James recognizes the guard and steps in to save the homeless guy who wasn’t doing anything wrong – luckily the police see it the same way! James buys the guy a burger and relates his story.
The movie then flashes back to “a Christmas past” where James and Bob are still struggling to pay for essentials and put food on the table. James always puts Bob first and gives him the option stay at home or go with James to sell The Big Issue on his allotted street corner or to go busking. James always earns way more when Bob goes with him – capturing the hearts of everyone who come across them.
A run-in with an uncontrolled dog captures the attention of two Animal welfare officers who stop to ask him some questions. This is James’ first encounter with the nasty prick who had the other busker pinned to the ground (see above). As the movie progresses it looks like Bob may be taken away from James for his welfare. Probably the saving grace was a bystander who filmed the encounter with the ‘bad’ welfare officer and sent it to the media.
James is increasingly worried but, because he struggles to make enough to feed them both plus a couple of incidents requiring a vet, he starts to think perhaps it may be the best thing for Bob. He receives extraordinary support from his friend Bea (Kristina Tonteri-Young) and local shop-keeper Moody (Phaldut Sharma).
As Christmas Day fast approaches, James still thinks of what would be best for Bob so makes his decision and approaches the nice welfare officer accordingly …
This is both a heart-breaking and heart-warming story and, being true makes it all the more emotional. Please take the time to go to the cinema and see this delightful film – I am quite certain you will not be disappointed.
Postscript: In the credits at the end of the movie, the first one said “In loving memory of Bob the Cat”. Assuming Bob died of old age I was horrified to see that he was killed in June this year after a hit-and-run by a car!! Absolutely devastating 😢.
There are also a few lovely tributes to Bob the Cat on YouTube that are worth watching.