a dog's way home
DIRECTOR: Charles Martin Smith (stone of destiny, dolphin's tale)
STARRING: jonah hauer - king, ashley judd, barry watson, and bryce dallas howard
REVIEWER: hadassah devis
As a puppy, Bella finds her way into the arms of Lucas, a young man who gives her a good home. When Bella becomes separated from Lucas, she soon finds herself on an epic 400-mile journey to reunite with her beloved owner. Along the way, the lost but spirited dog touches the lives of an orphaned mountain lion, a down-on-his-luck veteran and some friendly strangers who happen to cross her path.
Bella, an adopted stray embarks on a long journey through the Colorado wilderness to find her way home to her family.
The two-year journey Bella takes sees her face humans, cougars, wolves, cars, avalanches and other dogs, but despite the many facets of the plot nothing significant really happens. This makes the adventure feel long and drawn out. It does wrap up with the kind of happy ending that only a movie about dogs can do, and I saw a lot of people crying because of it, but the inevitable resolve doesn’t quite make up for the lack of substance in the rest of the film.
Basically, there are two words I would use to describe A Dogs Way Home: overly-sentimental and gloomy. They sound contradictory so let me explain.
Bella’s narration was the big contributor to the over-the-top sweetness of the film. Her thoughts are obviously supposed to be simplistic enough for kids to understand but the naïve and optimistic tone make her seem… stupid. It was cute when she was a puppy but as an adult dog, the immature chatter wears off quickly. It’s as if the audience couldn’t figure out what was going on just watching what was happening.
The film was also strangely morbid for a kids movie. There are two deaths – one of a cougar who is shot by hunters (leaving her cub to die*) and one of an old homeless man who dies from exposure with Bella chained to him (leaving Bella to die*). The 4 year old I was with was astute enough to understand that something bad happened to the old man, and that Bella was heading the same way, but not mature enough to fully understand the situation. So it just made him very uncomfortable and anxious. He seemed to have forgotten about it by the end of the movie, but I don’t know if all children would cope with it.
*neither of these two die, but it doesn’t make it any less dark for the kids
If you are an absolute dog fanatic, you’ll likely love A Dog's Way Home despite its flaws.