What fun it must have been to make A Dog’s Way Home!
So much joy and positive energy is embraced in every element of this film. So much laughter, support of family, willingness to try anything to better the lives of those around these characters, and effort to give their hearts to new situations that call to them, is captured in this movie’s script, acting and storyline.
Moreover, the gentle physical loveliness of the middle/western U.S. states, the sheer natural beauty of it all, is simply sublime, crisp and gorgeous. From snow-peak–encircled Denver through rough-hewn, mountainous Utah, to starkly arid, sandy cactus-threaded New Mexico, you’re completely immersed in sixth-dimensional scenery throughout. Hello, Oscar cinematography nomination 2019!
This is the perfect uplifting movie to experience on the big screen with your children. If you love animals, shy away from serious/violent drama, and appreciate a good, wholesome family flick, you’ll find that A Dog’s Way Home is an excellent full-circle adventure. It’s that rings-true story that blends tenderness and tension, joy and courage, change and challenge, all against a backdrop of the sheer jubilance of life.
At the center of it all, the indefatigable mutt Bella (aptly voiced by actress Bryce Dallas Howard) is beyond cute. Her bright, coffee-brown eyes and animated brows add liveliness to her thoughts and expressions, captivating you from the start. As the star of A Dog’s Way Home, she’s a rare creature who’s both turn-away plain but enthusiastically sweet and clear-hearted adorable.
Born in the underbelly of a razed home amid a clutter of kittens, Bella is dewy-eyed young when the Evil Animal Control raids the property and confiscates her pit-bull mother and siblings. Fortunately, survivor Mama Cat raises Bella on her milk along with her own kits. That is, until neighbor Med-school student Lucas (the classically dimpled, ever-sunny Jonah Howard-King) arrives to feed this feline brood.
Upon discovering Bella with the cats, Lucas adopts her, specifically to help his PTSD-suffering mom Terri (a dressed-down, casually beautiful Ashley Judd). Never mind that no dogs are allowed in their apartment; they will figure it out. Until …
OH NO! Evil Property Owner teams up with Evil Animal Control Guy to demand clearance of the abandoned yard, including Mama Cat and her kittens!
OH NO! Bella is caught and impounded for illegally running free through the neighborhood!
OH NO! Bella must leave Lucas and Mom’s comforting home to live with a friend in Nevada!
OH NO! Bella escapes!
And here arrives the thematic action of A Dog’s Way Home. Bella, in her quest to return to Denver to find Lucas and Mom, gallops through staggeringly cinematic scenes capturing Nevada’s gorgeous high desert, the rugged mountain ranges and pristine, snowy lakeside landscapes of Utah, and everything water, land and sky in between.
Along the way, many animals make memorable appearances. Besides Mama Cat and her brood, there’s that dastardly squirrel, neighborhood dogs, errant chickens, leaping woodland deer, a scary stalking wolf pack, and a tiny cougar cub Bella chooses to mentor. It’s a sweet turnaround; the abandoned mutt who was saved by the Mama Cat of another species now is Mama Dog to a feline cub not her own.
No spoilers, but if you or your children love animals and a solid, wraps-it-up, positive plotline, this movie is definitely for you. Quick review: “A Simple, Sweet, Satisfying Tale.” A Dog’s Way Home is the perfect soothing balm to spend 90 minutes on the upside with your kids and/or people you love and adore.
Rating: PG for thematic elements, some peril and language
Genre: Adventure, Family
Stars: Jonah Howard-King, Ashley Judd, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith
Written By: W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon
Running Time: 97 minutes