Animals in Film

Animals in Film

By Anne Feustel

Most movies that have animals in prominent roles are feel-good films. Yes, there are movies like the John Wick series and Keanu that are overly violent, but overall, a movie about an animal is often a pleasant affair. That’s not to say that your basic film about animals is 100% light and fluffy. You aren’t guaranteed a smooth ride because of a dog, cat, or donkey. Movies with animals tend to go at a slower pace. There are often deeper meanings, scary bits, drama, and sometimes sad endings. I will focus on two very different films, Because of Winn-Dixie and A Street Cat Named Bob.

Because of Winn-Dixie is a funny and sweet family movie about a girl who has recently moved to a new town with her traveling preacher dad. The girl, Opal, doesn’t have any friends. She finds a shaggy, homeless mutt running around her local grocery store, named the Winn-Dixie and names the dog after the store. She keeps being told that she can’t keep the dog, but falls in love with him anyway. He is her best friend, and she makes all kinds of connections because of him.

He often runs away from her when they are out walking, and wherever she finds him, she discovers what will turn out to be a new friend. The movie has all kinds of interesting characters, all people you need to get to know to see beyond their exterior. Most of them are people others find strange or different. Both Winn-Dixie and Opal embrace them anyway.

Winn-Dixie has his weaknesses. Like many animals, he has separation anxiety and a fear of thunderstorms. He gets into all kinds of trouble because of both. He destroys things, yelps, and whines when he’s left alone. During thunderstorms, he gets highly agitated, paces, and wants to run far away. Opal does her best to calm him when he’s anxious.

While Winn-Dixie is supposed to be a mutt, he is played by four Picardy Shepards, a French breed. The two “principal” dogs were named Scott and Lyco.

While A Street Cat Named Bob is ultimately a feel-good movie, it has several adult themes and isn’t for children. James is a musician living on the streets of London and a recovering drug addict. He is given an apartment, and a stray orange cat wanders into his place. He feels he can’t care for the cat, so he turns him away.

The cat becomes injured, and James finds him again. He takes the cat to the vet and keeps him this time. A friend gives the cat the name Bob. What follows is a lovely story about how animals and people can rescue each other. Because of Bob, James can connect with people and better his life. (I have a lot of love for Bob because my cat is also an orange boy.)

Bob accompanies James while he’s playing music on the streets for money, and his appeal helps James earn more money. We also see James try and connect with his estranged dad, played by Anthony Head. The movie is based on a true story, and the real-life Bob plays Bob. The real James was the cat handler and very intimately involved in the making of the film.

Anne Feustel is a copywriter, editor, transcriber, and data entry tech. Anne is the author of “Our Favorite Movies: How Films Affect Our Mental Health.” You can find her book on Amazon and reach Anne through her website,

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