Bobcat Moretti review – heartfelt boxing underdog tale goes down the signpost route

Estimated read time 2 min read

Traditionally, genre labels gave a broad sense of what kind of experience you might be in for, whether horror, comedy or action. In the streaming era, things are much more specific, with platforms such as Netflix offering ever more niche microgenres: “Cynical Comedies Featuring a Strong Female Lead” for example, or “Classic Feelgood Opposites-Attract Movies”. Bobcat Moretti feels tailor-made for this kind of categorisation. Here we have an “Inspirational Personal Transformation Following Tragic Life Event Sports Movie”, in which a man with multiple sclerosis takes up boxing as part of an effort to turn his life around after a horrific family tragedy.

The passion and commitment of the film-makers are evident. Starring as the eponymous Bobcat, Tim Realbuto also co-wrote the script (with director Rob Margolies) and lost 70kg (11st) during the course of making the film. A lot of work has evidently also gone into securing the rest of the cast, with Vivica A Fox (Independence Day, Kill Bill) representing the biggest coup for an indie production of this nature and budget. They’ve also bagged a very brief cameo from the late Coolio, though his screen time is minimal.

As is unfortunately sometimes the case, hard work and passion don’t always translate into works of genius. The film is uneven, with some moments that work perfectly well (shout out to actor-slash-stuntman Jay Hieron, who gives a credibly nasty performance as an abusive boyfriend) sitting alongside scenes that borrow so extensively from boxing movie cliches that they almost feel like parody, however heartfelt the intention. Lines such as “All right kid, I’m gonna take a chance on you”, suggest either a deliberate attempt to create a sort of ultimate underdog boxing movie tribute collaged together from earlier films, or simply a lack of familiarity with the genre. It’s as if the film doesn’t quite trust its original moments to stand alone, and instead feels the need to signpost everything.


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