A Dog’s Way Home follows a recent trend of dog narration movies. Well, that’s because the Dog’s Purpose team is now farming out its talents to a rival studio. Combining the dog love with the childish panache of the Dolphin’s Tale series creates the ideal January movie. It’s the unintentionally experimental winter dump movie that doesn’t seem to have been targeting anyone specifically. So, what does it all mean?
Narrating dog movies are hitting with an increased clip and I can’t explain why. A Dog’s Purpose was pretty straightforward and involved the impact that owners make on their lives of their pets. A sequel is coming this summer, all of these tales are based on the work of W. Bruce Cameron. So, why did America suddenly fall in love with this guy? He makes books for kids and adults, but they aren’t the kind of material that anyone is clamoring to read.
Director Charles Martin Smith has previously directed the kid friendly animal movies A Dolphin’s Tale and A Dolphin’s Tale 2. Before that, he starred in the underrated Disney cult classic Never Cry Wolf and American Graffiti. This really has nothing to do with anything other than highlighting how odd the creative choices in the film play. A character actor turned family movie director seemingly refuses to use real animals throughout half of his movie. A movie about normal animals doing extraordinary things. I guess it’s a response to the Animal Rights Violation claims that plagued A Dog’s Purpose.
Still, half of this movie is full of dogs, cougars and other creatures that directly drag their ass all over the Uncanny Valley. Before you can dwell on the weird part-time use of CG, there is the forced drama of the VA issues. Veterans get exploited in this film almost as much as household pets. Ashley Judd and the rest of the humans work in and around Veteran therapy services, because it’s a demographic that will drag their kids to this and eventually buy the film for three dollars on Black Friday.
But, a key point in the film centers on our lead dog Bella being chained to a dead veteran and having to find a way to break free. It’s like Saw meets Benji, but it’s a kid film that doesn’t want to deeply explore what brought both parties to this point. If you expect anything to get answered in this film, then you’re out of luck. Half CG/Half Real dog exists to get from Point A to Point B. Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting from a movie like this.
A Dog’s Way Home is proof that not every book about dogs needs to be a film. Hell, it’s barely enough to work as a TV special. It’s not a bad film in short spurts, but the push to make this hit feature length creates something that just doesn’t play on any level. Fun fact: director Charles Martin Smith also worked on a show about talking dogs. Check out the video before the start of this piece. That only lasted an episode, because people had better shit to do in 1979.