Director: Roger Spottiswoode (2016) BBFC cert: 12A
There’s no fleas on this amiable odd couple comedy which is based on a sweet-natured true story. Simply and effectively told, this modest British movie has a life affirming message of hope, redemption and kindness to animals.
Bob is a stray tomcat who achieved local celebrity before becoming a Youtube sensation, publishing personality and now a film star. Cast as himself, Bob is rescued by homeless junkie busker called James. He’s played by a scruffy and sympathetic Luke Treadaway.
Bob adopts James as his keeper, as cats are wont to do. Together they charm the Covent Garden shoppers as James performs his catchy songs but little goes their way. James is a trier bless him, and Bob loves a trier. But James is struggling to overcome his drug addiction or earn enough money for food.
There’s a catastrophic New Year Eves encounter with his estranged dad, Anthony Head in a small but important role. We sadly don’t see enough of him or of an unusually glamorous Joanne Froggatt as Val, Bowen’s kindly non-nonsense drug support worker. As usual she’s the cat’s whiskers. Despite a cat allergy there seems to be the of possibility of romance for James with the new age next door neighbour, Belle. Ruta Gedmintas is sweet in some alarming clothes.
Treadaway is hardly a household name though has worked consistently in minor roles. He voiced Raymond Briggs in Ethel And Ernest (2016), appeared in Angelina Jolie’s war movie Unbroken (2014), and fantasy reboot Clash Of The Titans (2010), as well as starring in the stage version of War Horse (2007) as Albert.
The director is careful to avoid showing anything terribly graphic in this picture postcard pretty version of London. Including minor 007 adventure Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Spottiswoode’s competency has sustained a career of not great films. He’s directed major stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson and Tom Hanks in respectively The 6th Day (2000), Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), Air America (1990) and Turner And Hooch (1989). At least he has experience of working with animals. Spottiswoode shoots with brisk story-serving economy. He adopts a Bob’s point of view in the brief interludes of Tom and Jerry style shenanigans.
All the actors are all engaging in a film to gently warm your cockles on the run up to Christmas, but it’s Bob who’s the star.