Australian Council on Children and the Media

A street cat named Bob

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Not recommended under 11; parental guidance recommended 11 to 15 due to themes and drug use.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A street cat named Bob
  • a review of A street cat named Bob completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 February 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 11 Not recommended due to themes and drug use
Children aged 11 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and drug use
Viewers 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: A street cat named Bob
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes of drug addiction and coarse language
Length 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A street cat named Bob is based on the true story of London busker James Bowen (Luke Treadway) who is struggling to overcome heroin addiction. A social worker helps him to get off the streets in the hope that having a stable place to live will help him stick to his methadone program. In his new apartment, James is visited by a friendly stray cat that won’t leave his side. The cat, who he names Bob, becomes James’ lifeline and helps him on his journey to recovery and reconciliation with his past.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Drug dependence; homelessness

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A man walking his dog bullies James and Bob whilst they are busking. The man encourages his dog to urinate on James’ busking case.
  • A fight breaks out between a number of men and there is lots of angry shouting

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • James sees his friend overdosing from heroin and being taken into the hospital. We discover that his friend dies.
  • James’ friend Betty is distressed as she describes how her brother died due to an overdose.
  • James becomes very distressed when Bob goes missing and he is extremely emotional.
  • James has a fractured relationship with his father and there are several scenes where his father rejects him and tells him to leave.
  • James decides to go through withdrawal in order to kick his addiction. There is a nightmare-like montage where we see what it feels like for him to be locked in his flat, going through withdrawal symptoms.

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children of this age are also likely to find the above-mentioned scenes disturbing

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also find the above-mentioned scenes disturbing

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger viewers in this age group may also find some of the above-mentioned scenes disturbing.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some mild romantic themes in this movie, including:

  • James and Betty are attracted to each other. He talks about going on a date and buys her some flowers.
  • Betty talks about kissing James and talks about falling in love with him. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is a lot of substance use in this movie, including:

  • This movie is about heroin addiction and is a realistic and gritty portrayal. There are no scenes of actual needle insertion, but it is implied and the needle is shown at the scene.
  • James has an overdose and wakes up in hospital.
  • James sees a friend overdose and die.
  • Betty discusses her brother’s overdose and death.
  • James goes through extreme heroin withdrawal symptoms.
  • We witness a drug deal on the street.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • bloody; bullshit; dick.

In a nutshell

A street cat named Bob is based on the autobiography of James Bowen. It is gritty and realistic story featuring drug dependence and homelessness, so is not recommended for children under 11 with parental guidance recommended for 11 to 15 year olds. The film provides an excellent opportunity to talk to older children about the serious issues raised and also the strength and importance of our connections to other people and animals. Despite the serious themes, this film manages to be very uplifting and is lightened by the excellent performance of Bob the cat (who plays himself!), great music, and a positive message about the possibility of overcoming adversity.

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