RSS Feed
Also Featuring the Reviews of


 TheFilmFile
 TheBluFile
 TheFrightFile
 This Year
 Archives
 Articles
 Book
 About
 Dedication
 Mailing List
 Contact

Reviews by Title
ABCD
EFGH
IJKL
MNOP
QRST
UVWX
 YZ 

Reviews by Year
20192018
20172016
20152014
20132012
20112010
20092008
20072006
20052004
20032002
20012000
19991998
1997 & previous

Reviews by Rating
4 Star Reviews
3.5 Star Reviews
3 Star Reviews
2.5 Star Reviews
2 Star Reviews
1.5 Star Reviews
1 Star Reviews
0.5 Star Reviews
Zero Star Reviews
A
Haunted Sideshow
Production

©1998–2019
Dustin Putman





A Dog's Way Home  (2019)
2½ Stars
Directed by Charles Martin Smith.
Cast: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Edward James Olmos, Wes Studi, Barry Watson, Motell Foster, Chris Bauer, Patrick Gallagher; voice of Bryce Dallas Howard.
2019 – 96 minutes
Rated: Rated PG (for thematic elements, some peril and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for TheFilmFile.com, January 10, 2019.
"A Dog's Way Home" cloys its viewer into submission. It's corny at times, its very title is seemingly a spoiler, and the premise plays like a loose remake of 1993's "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" (itself a remake of 1963's "The Incredible Journey"). Like 2017's "A Dog's Purpose," the film is based on a canine-focused novel by W. Bruce Cameron (who also co-writes the screenplay with Cathryn Michon), and the story is narrated by the four-legged protagonist at its center. In "A Dog's Purpose," Josh Gad winningly voiced the thoughts of a series of pups through the decades, each one a reincarnation of the last. In "A Dog's Way Home," the expressive, always-winning Bryce Dallas Howard (2018's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom") gives voice to a single pit bull named Bella, torn apart from her beloved human owner Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King) and on a perilous 400-mile trek back to Denver, Colorado, to reunite with him.

Directed by Charles Martin Smith (2014's "Dolphin Tale 2"), "A Dog's Way Home" is hokier and perhaps a touch more juvenile than "A Dog's Purpose." Animal lovers will be torn between being enamored by the adorable Bella and in a state of terror at the number of ways her life is threatened across the 96-minute running time (she faces starvation, an avalanche, a wolf attack, and the threat of getting hit by a car, to name but a few). If there is a certain masochistic grimness to its narrative edges, its feel-good, saccharine-yet-sincere heart goes a long way in softening the script's cavalcade of dangers.

A brief segment where Bella is taken in by a warm, sympathetic same-sex couple (Barry Watson and Motell Foster) is a welcome touch in a family film that doesn't often embrace such diverse representation. Meanwhile, a bond Bella forms with a motherless cougar whom she names "Big Kitten" is undeniably cute but also occasionally disconcerting since Bella is largely played by a live-action dog and the cougar is an obvious CG creation. Any question of whether or not "A Dog's Way Home" works in the long run, however, is answered in time for its irresistible finale and the crucial moment in which the wiser, tattered Bella's place in the world alongside Lucas and Lucas' war-vet mother Terri (Ashley Judd) is tearfully confirmed. Certainly manipulative but also ultimately affecting, the picture knows exactly how to wrap audiences around its furry little paw. Stone-hearted cynics need not apply.
© 2019 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

Spider-Man: Far from Home
Midsommar
Annabelle Comes Home
[Blu-ray Review] Night of the Creeps (1986)
Ma
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Aladdin
The Sun Is Also a Star
Poms
[Blu-ray Review] The Seduction (1982)
Avengers: Endgame
The Curse of La Llorona
[Blu-ray Review] Tarantula (1955)
Pet Sematary
Dumbo
Shazam!
Us
[Blu-ray Review] Man's Best Friend (1993)
[Blu-ray Review] The Legally Blonde Collection (2001/2003)
Happy Death Day 2U
Isn't It Romantic
Serenity
[Blu-ray Review] Valentine (2001)
[Blu-ray Review] Sarah T.—Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975)
The Kid Who Would Be King
A Dog's Way Home
[Blu-ray Review] Obsession (1976)
Escape Room

The Year in Review: 2018's Best and Worst

Death of a Nation
Lean on Pete
Roma
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
More »