by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: January 11
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Ashley Judd, and Edward James Olmos
Mister Marquee Says: Nothing Special
Bella is a happy mutt living with her owner Lucas and his mom, a former soldier dealing with PTSD. Lucas riles up a landowner about some kittens that live in his construction site that animal control failed to properly deal with, and the crooked evil business guy has animal control pick up Bella, who is ruled a pit bull. Pit bulls are illegal in Denver, so Lucas sends Bella to live with friends while he finds a place outside of the city. When Bella gets lost in her new surroundings, she makes an impossible trek to find Lucas.
Here’s the deal, I really didn’t want to see this movie. I was kind of strong armed into it. Why? I hate dog movies. I utterly and truly despise dog movies because I love dogs. That’s why I was relieved to find 100% less dog murders in John Wick Chapter 2 and was totally cool with John Wick’s killing spree in the first one. Dog movies all involve weaponized feelings in such a perverse manner that even Pixar would blush. It’s not easy to punch the audience in the feelings in a dog movie. Sad, hurt, or dying dogs take no nuance, imagination, or creativity to generate powerful, overwhelming feelings in anyone who has ever loved a dog which, believe it or not, is a lot of people. For that reason, I tend to avoid these flicks like the plague.
This is a family movie about a dog trying to find its way home. I’m not expecting Citizen Kane. It hits the mark for what its audience wants, a feelings-heavy movie about a dog going home. It’s nothing special, but it brings out the good “awe” and the bad “awe”. It’s basically a Hallmark Christmas quality movie in scripting and acting that’s about a dog, right down to the evil business guy. That being said, even with a low bar the fake low-rent effects are kind of hard to stomach. At one point, the dog befriends a cougar that has some CGI straight out of The Scorpion King that really took me out of a few scenes. This is compounded by a handful of action scenes where the live dog is so obviously replaced with a haphazardly rendered CGI that it’s impossible not to be taken out of the moment. A Dog’s Way Home isn’t awful, but it’s nothing special. You’ll forget it almost immediately, but its at least entertaining.