Friday, 20 September 2019

A Dog's Way Home ☆☆☆☆☆

Another year, another bloody Hollywood dog movie. Now, I love dogs. They’re the purest, wholesome and loving creatures in this dark and twisted world and without them, we would be totally screwed. They remind us to be better people. But even as a dog-lover, I am sick to death of these soppy, overly sentimental dog movies. Have you seen A Dog’s Purpose, or A Dog’s Journey, or Marley & Me, or any of the other countless entries in this canine sub-genre? If you have, you don’t need to see A Dog’s Way Home. You’ve already seen it.

As a puppy, Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) finds her way into the arms of Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King), a young man who gives her a good home. When Bella becomes separated from him, 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.

And so ensues one of the most sickly-sweet 96 minutes you’ll have at the movies this year. Think Homeward Bound with a whole dairy farm’s worth of cheese piled on top. If you are lactose intolerant, even fleeting contact with this cinematic abomination will be enough to make you violently ill. 

OK, maybe I’m being a little harsh. A Dog’s Way Home knows its audience and panders to it effectively. If you’re the sort of person who loves these doggo films, you’ll probably have a great time with it. You’ll love every bit of observational dog humour (that you’ve seen a hundred times before), your heart will melt at every close up of puppies, you will loudly “awwwww” throughout. I am not the target audience for A Dog’s Way Home and I know that. It makes me feel bad reviewing it so aggressively. But hey, it’s my job to tell you whether a film is worth your time or not and honestly, I haven’t got a single good thing to say about A Dog’s Way Home.

That’s not to say that A Dog’s Way Home is the worst film ever made, certainly not on its own terms. But the fact is that so many other films have done exactly what A Dog’s Way Home is doing, and often better – so it makes it difficult to recommend. This is just the most derivative and cookie-cutter film of its type and its hard to have any respect when it's clear that the entire production team just totally phoned it in. This is a glorified TV movie which feels cheap and forced, overflowing with cliché and overly sentimentalised narrative beats designed to punch you right in the heart. 

A Dog’s Way Home is exactly what you would expect then, really. I don’t think anybody watching the trailer or even glimpsing at the poster for the film would’ve imagined it to be anything more than this. These dog films have had their day. Let’s stop pumping all of our money into these bloody films and instead donate to dog charities or give a rescue dog a loving home. Stop watching these forced dog stories – be a part of a real one. A Dog’s Way Home belongs in the dog-house.

Sam Love

A Dog's Way Home at CeX

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