A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Christmas Gift from Bob is a festive drama -- and sequel to A Street Cat Named Bob -- that deals with issues such as drug addiction and people experiencing homelessness. Based on a true story, James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) -- a former drug addict who lives on the streets of London -- has found hope in the form of a stray cat called Bob. James' story has plenty of positive themes around redemption and giving people second chances. There is also a celebration of community spirit, and the movie ensures that good deeds are rewarded, and that good people will eventually thrive. James is something of a role model, although his past misdemeanors and mistakes are not brushed over. He is flawed, and there are several references to his former life as a drug addict. There are moments of deplorable behavior, such as people stealing from unhoused people and others forcibly trying to sell drugs to people. There is also mild violence with an occasional heated argument or people pushing each other over. While the language is mild -- "d--khead," "piss," and "pr--k" -- it can be aggressive in tone. Despite the adult themes, the story is told in such a way that it is accessible and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
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What's the story?
A CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM BOB is the true story of James Bowen (Luke Treadaway), a man who lived on the streets of London with his cat, Bob. As the nights get colder and he seeks to make some money before Christmas, James finds himself at the center of a media storm as local authorities question whether he's a suitable owner for his beloved feline pet.
Is it any good?
This follow-up to 2016's A Street Cat Named Bob continues the real story of James Bowen, a former drug addict who lived on the streets of London. But in the original it felt there was a story to be told: how Bowen turned his life around, and how much of that was due to the wonderful cat he adopted. Unfortunately, the sequel lacks narrative and feels as if it was made solely because the first film did well. And tonally it's overly sentimental in parts.
There's no denying the movie gives off a real Christmas spirit though, and the sense of community and good karma feels fitting for the holidays. But it's dragged through the snow with all the other contrived moments. On the plus side, Treadaway is brilliant in the lead role, with a nuanced display that subtly gives the audience a real flavor for everything this man has gone through in his life. And of course his supporting lead isn't too bad either. In fact the movie could have been vastly improved if there had been a little more Bob in it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Talk about the relationship between James and Bob. Why are pets often so important to us? What can they teach us about life?
Discuss the issue of people experiencing homelessness. What are some of the reasons people end up in situations like James? What can be done to help them?
Would you describe James Bowen as a role model? If so, why? What other real-life people that have had their lives portrayed in a movie have inspired you?
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