A Streetcat Named Bob is the film adaptation of the worldwide bestseller that hit shelves in 2013.  Me?  Never heard of it.  It was a New York Times Bestseller, but what do I know?  I read comic books and watch films.  I bought Ready Player One last year so I can finally see what the hubbub is all about and it is still sitting there on the shelf waiting to be read.  I was actually in the airport in Amsterdam flying back to Jersey when I saw the book for sale.  I picked it up and went to read the back cover, but it was in Dutch.  I put the title into the back of my head to possibly look it up later.

I’m sure the reason the book was so readily available is because the book had just been made into a film in 2016 directed by Roger Spottiswoode (who has directed everything from Bond films to Turner & Hooch…to that Sly Stallone movie Stop or my Mom Will Shoot with Estelle Getty).  With it finally available on Amazon I thought I would finally check it out.  As a cat person (I have 4 of them roaming the house) I was instantly intrigued on what this flick would bring.

Bob is actually an autobiographical movie about James Bowen (played amazingly here by Luke Treadaway) who starts the film dead broke, a drug addict, homeless, and busking on the street to try and scrounge up food (or drug) money.  The dude can really play the guitar and sing but he is very obviously down on his luck.  After an overdose he is helped by a social worker (played by the gorgeous Joanne Froggatt) and actually given a flat to stay in.  He still needs to go out and busk everyday and, as a condition of staying in the apartment, get his daily methadone fix and stay off heroin, but at least he has a roof over his head.

James ends up meeting two important influences in his life.  One is Betty (Rutta Gedmintas) who is a dog-walking animal lover who lives a couple of apartments down.  The other is an orange Tabby stray cat who basically breaks into James’ apartment looking for some eats.  James helps the injured cat at first and ends up getting attached to the meow who he names Bob.  Thing is Bob is wicked smart and follows James onto the bus one day when he goes to busk.  No one ever cared about James’ music before but now that he has a cat that just sits next to him or up on his shoulders he becomes very popular.

Just because he has a cat that makes him popular and makes him more money busking that doesn’t mean everything is easy for him.  He is hiding his addiction from Betty, trying to stay straight, wishing to get off the methadone, and trying to somehow reconnect with his father Jack (played by Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Anthony Head).  But as shit starts going down for James and his life becomes harder and harder he finds that the only one he can truly depend upon is Bob.  Best part is Bob needs (and loves) James just as much as James loves Bob back.

I don’t want to ruin anything for those who are actually in the story but obviously, in the end, everything is good for James.  Obviously he wrote the book (and several others) and is no longer living on the streets trying to score drugs.  This movie is about the emotional journey James felt before he was finally able to kick drugs and turn his life around.  Is it all because of this cat?  You bet your ass it is.

The film had some great performances.  The one thing I thought amazing was that Bob played Bob in the film.  There was obviously some stand in cats…but Bob was there on set doing his thing with Treadaway.  The cat is damn cute, fun, and really has some discipline to it.  My orange tabby, Mr. Pickles, pretty much just cries all day or sleeps.

Treadaway looks the part of a strung-out guy who is really down on his luck.  He makes Bowen a very interesting man and, through his acting, I really felt the pain and anguish he was going through.  On top of that he has a great singing voice and can play the guitar quite well.  I don’t know if he could before this movie, but I’m sure he could and therefore helped him land the part.

So when you are trying to tell the story of a man and his cat it all comes down to do you believe, in the film, that this man and this cat are truly inseparable.  I think the film pulls it off easily.  I really bought it.  In turn, I really loved this film.  Sure it is a feel good story but it is definitely not all sunshine and rainbows trying to get to that point for James.

The film wasn’t a huge commercial success in its native Britain which really surprised me.  The book was a massive seller there but the flick only just made its meager $8 million budget back.  Now I’m sure this is due to, even though the cat is super adorable, you really aren’t bringing your kids to a movie where people are buying drugs and overdosing.  I get it.  But I thought it would have been more commercially successful.

I was also very surprised that the film was released here in America because I had never heard of it until I saw the book in a shop.  It grossed a paulty $82,000 here.  That tells me that the movie had a super limited release (probably just New York and L.A.) and no one went to see it anyway.  I bet the marketing budget here in America was somewhere around $4.46.

The movie is just a feel-good story though it does show the pain of drug addiction.  Luckily the real James Bowen was able to turn his life around with this amazing cat.  It’s a great performance by both Treadaway and the real Bob.  Now?  Well now I’m going to check out actual Bowen and Bob videos on YouTube because…why not?!?!?

RANK: B+