How many dog movies can Swede filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom make in his career? Ever since his claim to fame with his MY LIFE AS A DOG (English translation of its Swedish title), he championed A DOG’S PURPOSE in 2017 and now its sequel A DOG’S JOURNEY.
A DOG’S JOURNEY requires all credibility be thrown to the wind. Even its lead character, C.J. tells her friend Trent near the end of the story that the dog story is impossible to believe. One has to believe that:
- dogs can be reincarnated from one canine to another right after death
- this particularly canine has found and protected its mistress C.J. in 4 different coincidental cases
- dogs can sniff and identify cancer in human beings
- dogs can sniff and find someone miles away
- that people will love this dog movie no matter how ridiculous the plot may be
The film continues in the spirit of the faithful translation of author W Bruce Cameron’s original concept of dogs delivering humorous voiceover narration (here the voice of Josh Gad) that surprisingly got the majority of laughs at the promo-screening I attended. But the dialogue is amusing and I found myself chuckling at best. It is at least more respectable than the poo (or rather dog poo) jokes that abound throughout the film.
The film opens Ethan Montgomery (Dennis Quaid) farming his land with his faithful blubbering pooch, Bailey. Bailey does tricks, is huge and cuddly and the kind of dog that is impossible to dislike. Well almost. The widowed daughter-in-law, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), who is staying with Ethan and Hannah, Ethan’s wife (Marg Helgenberger) thinks Bailey dirty. Gloria has a child, Clarity June (C.J.) (Kathryn Prescott). One day, as a result of an argument, Gloria leaves Ethan and Hannah taking C.J with her. Bailey dies vowing to find C.J. to look after her in the next life. The next life, C.J. grows up and owns Molly, Bailey’s reincarnation, And the story or the dog’s journey continues.
The dog lives a total of 4 different lives in total, from Bailey to Molly, Max and Toby. Molly the hound is the most adorable while the happy Toby the most spoilt and annoying. C.J. grows from toddler to child to teen in the process while Ethan grows old with the faithful reincarnated Bailey by his side. C.J. is played by n less than three different actresses.
As a family doggie movie, A DOG’S JOURNEY, written by no less than 4 authors, delivers and turns out exactly what fans of the original DOG’s PURPOSE is looking for. A DOG’S JOURNEY is best looked as a doggie fairytale, very corny and very sentimental (imagine a doggie heaven, as implied at the end of the film). The best thing about the film, is understandably the trained dogs on display. Dog lovers are advised to bring lots of Kleenex.