“A Dog’s Way Home” stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Chris Bauer, Barry Watson, and Jonah Hauer-King. Released on January 11, 2019, the film is about a dog who embarks on a journey to reunite with her owner.
The film is directed by Charles Martin Smith, who also directed films such as “Trick or Treat”, “Air Bud”, “The Snow Walker”, and “Dolphin Tale”. It is based on the book of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron. What better way to continue the new year than with a film for dog lovers? Whether it’s “A Dog’s Purpose” or “Dog Days”, I’m always in a mood for something that involves a relationship between a person and their canine buddy. Why? Because apparently, I’m addicted to cuteness. This latest family-friendly drama seeks to be one of the most feel-good films of the year not just for kids and parents, but for fans of “man’s best friend” films as well, but will it work for people outside of its target audience?
If you’re familiar with “A Dog’s Purpose” (a film adaptation of another W. Bruce Cameron novel), you would notice that like that film, the story in “A Dog’s Way Home” is told from the perspective of the dog. In this case, the dog, Bella (voiced by “Jurassic World” star Bryce Dallas Howard), is telling the audience about her long journey home. If you’re asking me if this film is set in the same universe as “A Dog’s Purpose”, well, I would say I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. The film is simply “The Incredible Journey”, without a second dog, a sassy cat, and a memorable storyline. However, it’s still an adorable film to watch despite its series of preachy moments and some uncomfortable scenes that may frighten a few younger kids. Bryce Dallas Howard did a suitable job providing the narration as well as voicing Bella, a dog who is raised by a young man named Lucas, who is played by Jonah Hauer-King. The rest of the cast also delivered some decent performances, such as Ashley Judd as Terri and Alexandra Shipp as Olivia, although their presence onscreen was pretty short compared to Bella’s. Charles Martin Smith was known for directing films that display plenty of affecting moments that involve both the humans and the animals, whether they’re together or not. While he did display it in this film, I was pretty surprised to find out that it only focused on Bella’s journey and not showcase the main humans and their feelings towards her disappearance, especially Lucas. I think if they included those scenes somewhere in the film without making it longer, it would’ve given the audience a chance to feel bad for the people that Bella befriended with before her journey. Other than that, I still find Bella’s journey to be a pleasant experience. Another thing that bothered me a little was the film’s use of CGI, especially the cougar that Bella encountered during her adventure. The visuals did not seem to blend in very well with the live-action environment. There was this one scene that uses CGI, and not only was it unconvincing, but it was also as sloppy as a bowl of Sloppy Joes. I know that it’s made under a small budget, but jeez. Learn to recheck the visuals carefully, people.
Overall, “A Dog’s Way Home” may not reach the same heights as “A Dog’s Purpose” or “The Incredible Journey”, but it’s cute enough to make the journey worth taking. The film’s cast and charming story will leave dog lovers and kids begging for more, although its lack of screen time for the main human characters and its bland visuals might be enough to send someone outside of its target audience to the pound. It’s another decent dog film that should suit well for families and people who just love dogs. Imperfect, but decent.