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Independent Film Review – Bobcat Moretti

I think that it is fairly well known that films aren’t usually shot in the order that they unroll onscreen. They try and film as much as they can with the minimum of disruption. If a character has to appear in a particular costume or make up for a few different scenes then it is less kerfuffle to shoot the scenes one after another and then edit them together in the correct order later on. Alternatively, if a story consists of a building being blown up at the beginning and then being seen in flashback for the rest of the film then it makes sense to record all the flashback scenes and then finish off with the building blowing up. Then snippity snip and a bit of sellotape puts everything in the required order. But sometimes it is necessary to film, pretty much, in chronological order. 

Bobcat Moretti is one of those films. The reason is that the eponymous star of the film starts off as an obese bloke, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and struggling to come to terms with a personal tragedy. One of the things that gets Bobcat on the path to normality is trying to emulate his late father by going to his old gyn and training as a boxer. Bobcat Moretti was filmed over a period of twelve months to allow Bobby “Bobcat” Moretti (Tim Realbuto) to go from being an enormous chap to merely being very big. In reality, Tim Realbuto lost eleven stone over the course of that year; that’s just under 70kgs for those who don’t use imperial weights. To put that in some sort of perspective, Christian Bale lost a mere four and a half stone for The Machinist.

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I’ve Got To Get Out Of Here

I think I may have already said most of what Bobcat Moretti is about. Bobby Moretti starts off as a carer for his mother (Sally Kirkland) who is suffering from dementia; following a fall Mrs Moretti dies. After the funeral, the family are chatting and Bobby realises that he misses family life. He quits his job and goes to live with his brother (Matt Peters) and sister in law (Taryn Manning). He struggles to find a job and ends up at the gym that his father used to box at. There he meets the owner Joanne “Jo” Wallis (Vivica A Fox) who lets him train for free providing he pays her back by working and cleaning around the gym. From then on he starts to get himself back together. 

He loses the weight, makes friends, and develops his pugilistic skills. It turns out that Jo Wallis tends to specialise in helping out underdogs. Among the friends he makes at the gym are Lacey “Boots” Harris (Sheria Irving) and Carmine (Louis Mustillo). Not everyone is friendly though, he unwittingly annoys the resident hard case Tony Pinto (Jay Hieron) which leads to the inevitable final act fracas between Bobcat and Tony. Obviously spoilerage prevents me from disclosing the result but, well, the outcome is usually a coin toss! The fight towards the end is, obviously, a big part of the latter half of the film but there is a lot more going on than just that. 

No Crying In My Gym

The MS isn’t dealt with in great depth but the personal relationships are dealt with nicely. The rollercoaster of emotions is very well portrayed. Both the ongoing upsets with his brother’s family and the earlier problems which led to his emotional distress. The resolutions to both are excellently handled. It’s always tempting to make comparisons between any boxing film and Rocky and, frankly, there are similarities. There is an underdog given a chance to redeem himself. The route to redemption is paved with an awful lot of pain…physical, emotional, and psychological. There is obviously a fight scene given that we are watching a boxing film. Does it match the fight in Rocky? Don’t be ludicrous! 

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The fight in Bobcat Moretti is in a small gym rather than a title fight in a proper stadium. So there isn’t the huge screaming crowd or the breathless commentators. However, it does have its merits and serves the story well. Besides, despite Rocky being famously low budget it did cost just under $1million back in 1976. Bobcat Moretti cost $300,000. The high spots are the supporting cast particularly Louis Mustillo.  He was wonderful in Mike & Molly and that was a favourite of Tim Realbuto and his mother, who is an MS sufferer in real life, and they both loved the Vince Muranto character and wanted him on board. All in all, Bobcat Moretti is an entertaining way to pass an afternoon.

Bobcat Moretti gets a digital release on 15th April 2024.

Movie Grade: B+

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