A Dog’s Way Home Review: A film that tugs at it’s audience’s heart strings even with a few missteps
Following a similar path to its predecessor, however, instead of tugging at viewer’s heart strings through the dying and reincarnation of one dog, A Dog’s Way Home captures the hearts of viewers through a dog’s triumphant journey as she attempts to reunite with the owner she loves.
The film follows Bella (Bryce Dallas Howard), a Pitbull who starts as a young pup who lives amongst a litter of cats until Lucas (Jonah-Haur King) takes her in and makes her a part of his family. Bella becomes a vital part of his life, not only as a loving pet, but also as an impactful part of the Veteran’s clinic that Lucas works at. However, once laws against Pitbulls and vengeful animal control officers come into play, Bella and Lucas are forced to separate to quite a while. Bella, though, doesn’t accept this and goes on a journey to reunite with Lucas and learns how strong their bond truly is.
There’s actually a lot of credit that needs to go to Howard for her voice performance as Bella as it comes off incredibly genuine and is probably one of the best parts of this movie. Now, I did find the dialogue to be annoying at times because it would constantly rock back and forth from Bella being childlike and dumb to sophisticated and trying to make a point about the relationships to people and animals. However, Howard constantly gives Bella great energy that’s fun and endearing to see on-screen even when she is going through tough times.
The bond between Lucas and Bella is also played off in a very touching way and is easy to resonate with. It’s not necessarily told in the most original way with the two bonding over traditional dog playing and montages that basically consist of Bella being generically adorable over decently well-known soft pop-rock songs, but it’s more endearing than cheap so it still works.
The film does have some moments that bring some interesting points about dogs and people. I actually enjoyed seeing Bella be with other people that share the same caring attitude as Lucas and seeing how dogs impact the lives of the homeless and veterans adds some food for thought to Bella’s journey. Not to mention, I actually left A Dog’s Way Home kind of learning something as the film’s focus on how there are laws against owning certain kinds of dogs in certain cities and areas was actually something, I wasn’t aware of and was made more aware of it thanks to the film.
Now, the film does have certain aspects about it that make it incredibly cheesy and can be found in similar films. The CGI animals kind of took away from the emotional moments Bella is supposed to have with them because the quality of the CGI was so bad that it was almost kind of distracting for me. The eventual reuniting of Lucas and Bella, which was spoiled in the trailer, felt cheesy with slow-motion and what looked to be a CGI tear that took me completely out of the moment. The film also paints anyone who doesn’t like dogs or animals, in the slightest bit, as an evil villain and while some characters it felt kind of fitting, others it felt out of place or just kind of harsh for such a relatively upbeat movie.
The film also drags at a certain point with could lose the attention of the audience it’s clearly going for: kids. I did find myself saying: “Why can’t this dog just go home already?” This isn’t to say that Bella’s journey isn’t interesting or engaging, but the film could’ve maybe gone on for ten less minutes and I don’t think anyone would complain.
Look, if you’re looking for your dog movies to make you cry, resonate with your own relationships with your pets, and have you leaving the theater with a smile on your face, then A Dog’s Way Home delivers what you need. It’s the perfect kind of film for both pet lovers and parents to take your kids to and despite from some technical and story missteps, creates another endearing story about the relationship between people and dogs.