Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 32 minutes, Director – Charles Martin Smith
Street busker James (Luke Treadaway) finds himself at risk of having his beloved cat, Bob, taken from him as his financial situation worsens around Christmas.
The true story of A Street Cat Named Bob was a bestselling hit, and when it was adapted to the big screen in 2016 the film was a relative success. Following on from those events we now find ourselves with a rather twee festive follow-up. Not quite in the vein of A Christmas Carol – although initially central figure James Bown (Luke Treadaway) does find himself being called “Grinch-face” by close friend Bea (Kristina Tonteri-Young). However, James’ closest relationship is still with his pet cat Bob, almost always by his side. At the start of the film we see the two attending a Christmas party for writers, after the success of his first novel based on his experiences recovering from heroin addiction and surviving through caring for Bob, life seems good but he’s unsure about what to do for his already announced second novel. As James leaves the party and offers to buy a homeless busker some food we’re taken back to a previous Christmas – James’ last in a situation of poverty. When the words “a Christmas past” appear on-screen you would be forgiven for thinking that this is going to be something rather cliché and cheesy.
At this point James is still selling The Big Issue outside Angel station, seemingly with rivals jealous of his cat that attracts extra customers, and busking in Covent Garden, barely raising funds to get him through the month, let alone worry about Christmas. Throw in Animal Welfare officers who are monitoring him, with the risk of Bob being taken away, and you have a mixture of everything going wrong at Christmas. There certainly isn’t anything as ‘dark’ as in the first film – which turns out to have been more memorable than perhaps initially given credit for, the scenes of James going cold turkey particularly coming to mind – but, that’s perhaps not a downfall for the film. There’s something about its mostly family-friendly nature that helps to capture a kind of warm festive feeling amongst the relative calm of the film, despite one or two of the more serious themes held throughout.
This is a film where people come together to support one another simply because they want to do good. It’s a traditional view of Christmas, and an especially harmless one, but it makes for something rather likable. This certainly isn’t the greatest Christmas film ever, and it might have a few clichés and conventions thrown in but somehow because of the general air and kind-hearted nature of the piece it doesn’t really matter. It’s easy to be brought into it for a conventionally warm and traditionally festively fuzzy, quaint Christmas flick. Something that people can simply sit down watch and appreciate that they had a decent time watching it. Especially during a scene where Christmas songs are performed with a Bob twist – Jingle Bells becomes Jingle Bob – it’s difficult not to have an amused smile slapped onto your face. You might not quite know why it’s there, but, of course, you haven’t any issue with it. Leaving with a good feeling inside themselves, maybe things will seem brighter, even if for a little bit, after viewing. Who care about those potential minor flaws anyway? It’s a Christmas film. It gives hope that things could actually be alright, and overall isn’t too bad in itself.
A Christmas Gift From Bob might be fairly conventional, yet despite its flaws there’s something rather kind and generous at the centre of it, providing a warm and likable festive feeling.