In honour or commemoration of ‘A Christmas Gift From Bob’, I list my five movie picks for pet lovers…
‘A Christmas Gift From Bob’ (2020) - the sequel to 2016’s ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ - is currently on home viewing services. It’s a really nice movie - exactly the kind of cosy, feelgood flick we need in the current Covid crisis where Christmas could be cancelled (heaven forbid it!) and the cinemas stay closed. The movie really emphasises the power of the human-animal bond that can really change people’s lives. But is it one of the great pet movies of recent history?
You see, stories about animals have been a part of popular culture for centuries. Think about literary classics like Anna Sewell’s ‘Black Beauty’ (1877) and Jack London’s ‘The Call of the Wild’ (1903). These books followed a horse or a dog from owner to owner and portrayed the pets as brave, loyal companions and a man’s best friend.
I have a cat myself so am well aware of the unconditional love an animal can offer, often when humans cannot. I’m also aware of the amount of films about man n’ cat, man n’ horse, man n’ dog. I’m not talking about schmaltz porn like ‘Marley and Me’ (2009) which is quite worryingly a favourite amongst canine fans.
I’m not talking about the dozens of film adaptations of ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Call of the Wild’. Most of which I haven’t seen. I did really like the most recent ‘Call of the Wild’ from earlier this year, though, with Terry Notary in mo-cap standing in for a real-life Buck the Dog.
I haven’t seen ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ (2009) which is a remake of the 1987 Japanese film ‘Hachiko Monogatari’ and is about the Akita dog Hachiko who lived in Japan in the 1920s. Don’t get me started on the ‘Cats and Dogs’ (2001-) movies - the third of which was stinking up a cinema near you shortly before lockdown.
These are just a few of the most popular pet titles to have played at the cinema over the past century. My favourites are not necessarily what most people might pick.
I am very sadly told, though, that Bob - James Bowen’s cat and the star of ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ (2016) and its sequel ‘A Christmas Gift From Bob’ (2020) - died due to complications with a head-on collision back in June this year. I know all too well the hole the loss of a pet friend can leave in people’s lives.
Bob’s story (a fuzzy ginger tom turning up in the hallway of a recovering drug addict’s supported housing programme) is truly heartwarming and my thoughts are truly with James Bowen. His friendship with this wonderful cat definitely made me spill some saltwater from my cornea when watching ‘A Christmas Gift From Bob’.
I really liked that movie. Maybe I like it so much that I decided to compose this list. I just thought, in honour or commemoration of Bob, I might as well give you my top 5 pet movies of all time. How’s that sound?
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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