Australian Council on Children and the Media

A Christmas Gift from Bob

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Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 13 (adult themes, mild violence, mild coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A Christmas Gift from Bob
  • a review of A Christmas Gift from Bob completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 December 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to adult themes (drug addiction, mental health, homelessness and poverty), some violence and some mild coarse language. Also may lack interest for younger children who may find the story hard to follow and not engaging enough.
Children aged 10–13 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes (drug addiction, mental health, homelessness and poverty), some violence and some mild coarse language.
Children over the age of 13 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 Christmas Gift from Bob
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length 92 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A Christmas Gift from Bob is a follow up to the very popular 2016 film, A Street Cat Named Bob, which told the true story of James Bowen (played by Luke Treadaway), a homeless busker living rough on the streets of London, and his loyal friend and companion, a big stray ginger tom-cat called ‘Bob’ (played by Bob!). In this Christmas special, James Bowen comes across a busker who is being bullied by some council workers. Suspecting that the busker might be sleeping rough and could do with a hot meal and a friendly face, James convinces him to sit and share a meal in a local café. Although the busker is initially suspicious of James’ motives, he stays to hear the story of how James and Bob survived last year’s Christmas. James describes how a series of unfortunate events and bad luck led to Bob almost being removed from his care by animal services. The film jumps back in time and we see just how precarious life can be when you’re living in social housing and still dealing with your own past trauma.

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.

Community spirit; Christmas; Karma; Drugs and addiction; Mental illness; Poverty and homelessness; Animal Welfare.

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 busker is held down on the ground against his will in a threatening and violent manner.
  • A dog attacks Bob on the street.
  • A drug dealer tries to sell James drugs on the street. When James refuses, the dealer tries to steal his bag and ends up pushing James to the ground and smashing his guitar.

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:

  • There are some bleak scenes where James is feeling anxious and worried about how he is going to pay bills and buy food. They are not scary scenes, but small children may sense that there is a sadness and sense of anxiety in the film.
  • The ‘villain’ of the film is a council worker who has a personal vendetta against James. He is often mean and menacing towards both James and Bob.
  • Bob becomes very ill and James is upset to find him lying listless on the sofa. He nurses him overnight, very worried that Bob is going to die. It is quite an emotional scene.
  • The homeless shelter is broken into and the volunteers and workers are distressed.
  • James discusses his past traumas, including mental illness, drug addiction and broken family life. There are no real details, but there is a sense of sadness.

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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group are likely to find the above-mentioned scenes sad or 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.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Children in this age group may have more sensitivity and curiosity about the adult themes in this film and parents may consider talking to them about the themes of drug addiction, mental illness, poverty and homelessness. Being more aware could make the sadder themes in this film more 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.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

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

  • James gets a quick kiss on the lips from a woman that he likes.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Adults drink beer in the pub.
  • James discusses his past drug addiction.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Dickhead
  • Piss off
  • Bloody Hell.

In a nutshell

A Christmas Gift from Bob is a heart-warming and gentle film that touches on important themes that you don’t often see in Christmas films. Although there is not a great deal that is likely to scare young children, this film is better suited to older children and teens who will appreciate the messages of hope and community spirit and the strong bond that James has with his pet cat Bob. Parents should be aware that this film touches on themes of drug addiction, mental illness, and poverty – all with great sensitivity and compassion.

The main messages from this movie are that life for some people can be precarious and insecure; and that compassion and community spirit are at the heart of Christmas.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Kindness and compassion to those in insecure life situations.
  • Learning to overcome trauma and make the best life you can.
  • Standing up to bullies.
  • The strong bond between humans and their pet animals.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • How people find themselves in situations of hardship and what kind of factors contribute to insecure living and poverty.
  • How are drug addiction, mental illness and broken families connected?
  • What is the meaning of Christmas and the Holidays for you and your family?
  • How do we feel when our pets become sick or even die?

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