A Dog’s Way Home is sac­cha­rine, sen­ti­men­tal

The Prince George Citizen - - A&e - Lind­sey BAHR

How much of a sweet tooth do you have when it comes to movies? It’s a ques­tion you might want to con­sider be­fore step­ping out for A Dog’s Way Home, W. Bruce Cameron adap­ta­tion of his book about a dog who finds her way back to her owner across 650 kilo­me­tres of Colorado ter­rain, be­cause this is one sug­ary con­coc­tion.

Not that it’s in­ef­fec­tive – I dare even non dog-lovers not to get a lit­tle misty eyed at the in­evitable con­clu­sion – it’s just very, very, VERY earnest, like a PBS Kids morn­ing show meets a cute puppy pics slideshow with much higher pro­duc­tion value.

Bryce Dal­las Howard pro­vides the hon­eyed voice for the hero­ine, Bella, a stray who lives hap­pily with some dogs and cats un­der an aban­doned prop­erty un­til an­i­mal ser­vices snags about half (in­clud­ing her mom). She soon gets adopted by a kind col­lege-aged kid across the street, Lu­cas (Jonah Hauer-King), who works at the VA and lives with his mom, a war vet who has de­pres­sion, played by Ash­ley Judd.

A Dog’s Way Home is harm­less enough and a nice lit­tle ad­ven­ture that’s fit for the whole fam­ily.

Bella is a very cute pup who grows into a very cute dog with lim­ited gram­mar and com­pre­hen­sion skills that never quite evolve past that of a four-year-old (i.e. “I’m ready to do ‘go home!”’). She also hap­pens to be en­emy No. 1 of the city of Den­ver after she falls on the wrong side of a ban on breeds des­ig­nated as pit bulls, and im­pounds them on sight.

“I know, it’s stupid,” ex­plains an em­ployee at the an­i­mal shel­ter ad­mirably suc­cinctly. An­other char­ac­ter, Olivia, played by Alexan­dra Shipp of Love, Si­mon de­scribes it as, “ba­si­cally racism.” This movie re­ally has it in for Den­ver’s Or­di­nance Sec. 8-55.

Once the au­thor­i­ties get word of Bella, and im­pound her once, her cozy ex­is­tence with Lu­cas and his mom comes to an end and she goes to live, for a time, with some rel­a­tives of Olivia’s who live in New Mex­ico. But the du­ti­ful and deeply nos­tal­gic Bella de­cides to take things into her own hands and find her way back to Den­ver and Lu­cas.

Di­rected by Charles Martin Smith, of such an­i­mal ad­ven­tures as Dol­phin Tale and Air Bud, A Dog’s Way Home is ac­tu­ally sur­pris­ingly in­tense. Bella goes dump­ster-div­ing one day with a pack of mangy dogs she comes across, she wit­nesses poach­ers killing a cougar, be­friends a CGI baby cougar, steals food from quite a few peo­ple and es­tab­lish­ments, sur­vives an avalanche, a free­way and even lives along­side a home­less man for a while.

She is laser-fo­cused on get­ting back to Lu­cas, how­ever, and even the good sit­u­a­tions she comes across (like liv­ing in the very stylish and ex­pen­sive home of a cou­ple who take her in) aren’t enough.

Although it might be a stretch to cat­e­go­rize this as a movie, A Dog’s Way Home is harm­less enough and a nice lit­tle ad­ven­ture that’s fit for the whole fam­ily.

But you might want to have the tis­sues ready. — Two and a half stars

out of four

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