Here we have what you would expect a “dog” film to be: fun and family-friendly fodder.
Nothing too complex or hard to follow, I would especially recommend this as a child’s first film to go see. I took my own son to see his first one around the age of three. You want nothing too complicated, and filled with enough cute animals running around, that no one even really has to know or care what is going on, to still be able to easily enjoy it.
A Dog’s Way Home, based on a book by W. Bruce Cameron (who co-wrote the script with Cathryn Michon), and produced by Gavin Polone, is set in Denver, Colorado and surrounding areas, the stunning landscapes often take the breath away, so again we have some basic, pretty things to look at – think picture book.
This is a children’s movie. It’s similar to, but not to be confused with 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, also based on a book by W. Bruce Cameron. In that one, a dog reincarnates five different times, and I think that was a better movie, as far as story content and character depth.
Back to the movie at-hand. Bella is a pitbull-mix, outlawed by the city of Denver’s laws against her breed, who becomes lost in the Colorado Rockies and must find her way back to her faithful and devoted owner Lucas (Jonah Haver-King). Unbelievably, she eventually makes it back to her loved ones, after a somewhat harrowing two-and-a-half-year journey.
During that time, she befriends a (CGI cougar), also another dog and a familiar cat. Bryce Dallas Howard is the voice of Bella; her delivery isn’t memorable, and it’s all internal dialogue, with no fake moving animal mouths – thank goodness.
The human cast of characters includes the incomparable Wes Studi, Ashley Judd as Lucas’ mother, and Edward James Olmos as a homeless vet who chains himself to Bella in a remote area and then dies. That would be the only piece one may need to explain to a toddler, but really only if they ask.
It’s nothing exaggerated nor emphasized. Don’t ask, don’t tell. All-in-all, this is your typical sweet and heartwarming animal tail (oops, I mean “tale)”, nothing too special, but still a nice hour and a half diversion with the kids.
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