After his master dies, terrier Bobby maintains a lonely vigil on his grave, despite the best efforts of the church warden to keep him out of the graveyard. As time goes on and he refuses to move, he becomes a symbol of hope for the impoverished citizens of Edinburgh.
The story of the small Scottish terrier that kept vigil on his master’s grave turned to legend and then cliché, but is brought back to life successfully here. The titular dog is turned into a furry Oliver Twist, inspiring the downtrodden masses and threatening the workhouse system in his quest to maintain his watch.
The underlying social-injustice themes serve to keep adults engaged, and the four-legged star will thoroughly charm the kids. Bobby, in fact, acts everyone else off the screen, especially Oliver Golding as his young friend, in one of the best non-CG animal performances in years. The film is overlong and sometimes smacks of particularly good telly rather than cinema fare, but is still a charming and credible look at an unlikely national hero.
It won't win any prizes for originality, but a quality cast and fabulous canine performance bring the legend to life without getting too cutesy.