There are times that movies based on a true story, or on the life of someone, are actually portrayed best by someone else. I’m not saying that Ray Charles couldn’t have done a fabulous job as Ray Charles had he been able to play himself in “Ray,” but damn, Jamie Foxx was fabulous. And what about Joaquin Phoenix in “Walk the Line” as Johnny Cash?
Other times the character is probably best as the actual person. Yup, I don’t think there is anyone else who could have properly portrayed Howard Stern except for Howard Stern himself in “Private Parts.”
So, following in the footsteps of some of the greatest actors and personalities, I give you Bob the Cat, and in “A Street Cat Named Bob,” I don’t think any other cat could have portrayed the tenacity, the love, and the joy that the actual Bob was able to give to James (in the movie portrayed by Luke Treadaway), other than the real Bob the Cat.
Who knew a cat could be that good of an actor?
Let’s get to the story.
James Bowen (Treadaway) was a drugged up guy, living on the streets, just trying to sing a tune and make a few bucks which, sadly, usually went to support his drug habit. After his latest overdose and stint in the emergency room he is pretty much on his last legs, both with himself and the people who are trying to help him.
Then a cat shows up.
James is living in an apartment that he is allowed to stay in, found by the rehab people, and one night, as James is struggling to stay clean, a cat shows up in his kitchen coming in through an open window. James gives him some food and sends the cat on his merry way. Low and behold the cat comes back to him, injured, and now James finds a friend, Betty, (Ruta Gedmintas), who sends James to a vet with the cat, who she names “Bob.”
The bond of friendship is born.
As the movie moves along we see James in his struggles to stay clean, to hold onto a relationship with Betty, and the challenges he has with his family. By his side the entire time is Bob, riding on his favorite perch, James’ shoulders. The secondary benefit for James with Bob? Other people also love Bob.
You see, as I briefly mentioned, James is a busker, and while his music is good, as a generic street musician he doesn’t get noticed. However, put an adorable looking cat on your shoulders while singing some nice songs and “Bam!”, the people stop, listen, take pictures of the cat, and leave you tips!
James’ life is up – He’s making money doing what he loves, singing music. James’ life is down – He visits his family on New Year’s Eve. James’ life is up – His relationship with Betty is going great. James’ life is down – He gets in a tiff busking and is prohibited from busking any more. James’ life is up – He finds a job hawking “The Big Issue” magazine and people will buy it, even if they don’t really want it, because he has a cute cat on your shoulders. James’ life is down – He breaks the magazine selling guidelines and loses his territory.
As the roller coaster life of James goes on there is a “Thank God!” moment in the movie, one last, giant struggle for James to get off the methadone, and thankfully James has Bob, and Betty, but mostly Bob, to get him through it. And he also gets a book deal. Yup, in the Internet world you can be a celebrity and not even know it, and such was James and Bob.
As I got teary at the end of the movie I couldn’t help but reflect how sometimes people, or animals, come into your life just when you need them. For James it was Bob.
I don’t want to dismiss the acting of everyone else in “A Street Cat Named Bob.” I mean Luke Treadaway did a nice job as the addict trying to get his life strait, Ruta Gedmintas was fine as the love interest, and Anthony Head was good as Jack, James’ father, who is conflicted on whether to help his son or disown him. But the star of this movie is Bob, and the filming of Bob.
Through both the close-ups of Bob, and the “perspective through Bob’s eyes” shots, you can’t help but begin to fall in love with this cat, and as much as you root for James, you cheer Bob for his dedication and love for James. Dammit, that cat is cute as hell, and almost makes me want to get a cat.
“A Street Cat Named Bob” is a wonderful film, even if you don’t like cats. You root for the characters, you want James to get clean, and you feel grateful that a cat like Bob can come into someone’s life and make so much of a difference. It’s 4 stars for “A Street Cat Named Bob.”
The Blu-ray has some nice extras, and a better look at Bob, but for the most part get the film for some feel-good catness.
That’s it for this one! L8R!!