A Christmas Gift from Bob

Movie review by
Stefan Pape, Common Sense Media
A Christmas Gift from Bob Movie Poster Image
Too-sentimental sequel has drug references, mild violence.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie thrives in the notion of second chances. Community is also a very important theme, and the mantra that if you're good to others, they'll be good to you.

Positive Role Models

James is a great role model, who was at one point at rock bottom, but managed to pick himself up and find a purpose for his life, mostly thanks to his feline friend, Bob. While James has a colorful past with many regrets, he has learnt from his mistakes and seeks to start anew. He finds the good in people. London is represented as a multicultural city, and different cultures are celebrated within the movie. Thieves and drug dealers both feature, but they are very much painted as the antagonists of the story.


A local security officer wrestles someone to the ground. A character recounts a time when they were stabbed in their sleep, and proceeds to show the scar. A drug dealer attempts to sell someone drugs, and when the offer is refused, they throw them violently to the ground.


The language is infrequent but does include "d--khead," "piss," and "bloody hell." A heated argument between two characters sees one refer to the other as a "pr--k."


The central character has a mindset that all they need is their health and their cat, with no need for materialistic things. However, the movie examines how this is the opposite mindset to most people.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several drug references, in relation to a character's previous addictions. People drink champagne at a drinks reception. Characters go to the pub and order pints of beer.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBowenfan November 19, 2020

Bob’s Gift

I loved it. Luke Treadaway was excellent as James Bowen and the unflappable Streetcat Bob had a leading role. After many disappointments everything comes to a h... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byFabrizioeffio1307 July 1, 2021

Una buena peli llamada bob

Es una buena peli no es tonta como los criticos basicos de categoria 1 dicen es buena es familiar es navideña te encariñas con el gato y el personaje
Con mas t... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byyeet_yeeter December 16, 2020


That cat is cute

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 ...

  • Families can talk about how A Christmas Gift from Bob depicts the effects of drug use. Are the consequences realistic? Why is that important?

  • 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?

  • How does this movie compare to the prequel, A Street Cat Named Bob? How does it compare to other Christmas movies you may have seen?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love movies about the holidays

Themes & Topics

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