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by maryann johanson, liberal movie person

A Street Cat Named Bob movie review: pussyfooting around reality

A Streetcat Named Bob yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
This true story falls down a bizarre rabbit hole of gentle condescension about how to solve the problems of poverty and drug addiction.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): love cats
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s like I, Daniel Blake, but with a cute cat in a little scarf thrown in to make everything turn out okay.tweet If only Dan and his poor, desperate friends had marched into the JobCentre with a hamster or a puppy tossed over their shoulders, all their problems would have been solved. I think this is what our betters mean when they say people on benefits just need to try harder: Find something fluffy with big eyes, ya lazy scroungers. A Street Cat Named Bob may be based on a true story, of recovering heroin addict and London street musician James Bowen and the stray cat who befriended him, but this telling of it — from director Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) — puts the emphasis in all the wrong places.tweet Instead of criticizing the idea that people seem to care more about some homeless guy begging on a street corner once he has a cat on his shoulder, or sitting on his guitar as he busks for coins, Bob celebrates that. One lady even knits those little scarves for Bob! (No word on whether she used to just walk straight past Bowen before he had Bob for company.) The movie ends — hardly a spoiler — with James (Luke Treadaway: Unbroken) doing a reading of the bestselling book of his experiences that this film is based on, which leaves you feeling like you’ve fallen down a bizarre rabbit hole of gentle condescension about how to solve the problems of poverty and drug addiction. I’m sure it was truly helpful for the real Bowen’s to have Bob around when he was suffering through methadone withdrawal, but as a story meant to be inspiring to a wide audience, it comes across as woefully dismissive of the massive widespread social issues underlying ittweet, and our responses to them. Let them eat book contracts, I guess. The cat is cute, though.


yellow light 2.5 stars

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A Street Cat Named Bob (2016) | directed by Roger Spottiswoode
US/Can release: Nov 18 2016
UK/Ire release: Nov 04 2016

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate drug references)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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