A Dog's Way Home movie review: Easy family watch but for several mawkish, manipulative moments

Mihir Fadnavis

May 04, 2019 14:43:10 IST


If you are a dog person or have an affinity towards pets in general, A Dog’s Way Home is an easy watch full of sweet moments and just enough drama to be manipulated by. It is, of course corny as hell and syrupy enough to make your teeth chatter, but it is what it is – a film designed for a specific audience, and on that front it works.

A Dogs Way Home movie review: Easy family watch but for several mawkish, manipulative moments

A Dog's Way Home. Image via Twitter/@holmesdirtysoul

We’re introduced to Lucas (Jonah Hauer King) who rescues a decidedly adorable dog, names her Bella and brings her home. The stereotypically cranky animal hater Gunter (Brian Markinson) has a bone to pick with Lucas because he dared to rescue animals and disrupt his mission of demolishing a building, which puts Bella’s life as a free dog in danger. The story then follows Bella’s road trip as she makes her way through treacherous terrains and sunlit panoramas.

Like in every dog-based movie, this is a film teeming with scene after scene of over the top cuteness, shots of animals doing charming things, a bouncy soundtrack elevating an already cutesy mood, and human performances that are always firmly in the family friendly space – which means either people are really good or really bad, there’s no in between. Some of the story beats and the emotional moments almost feel like a check list of things to make a pet lover smile and reach for the hanky, sometimes both. Bryce Dallas Howards voices Bella the dog with a lovably quirky twang which sort of works even though the voice-over is overwrought at times. Some of the locations Bella treks are quite popping, and the warm cinematography is impossible to cling on to cynicism.

The intent is undeniable because there’s nothing as such faulty with rendering a '90s style old-fashioned movie about good-natured animals co-habituating with humans, so the only negatives one can find are the eye-roll inducing, mawkish, manipulative beats. Literally everything in the film is designed to tug at your heart strings and the final act in particular is sweet enough to give you diabetes. Looked at in a certain way, things do get unintentionally funny and the human beings in the film seem grating every time the story cuts away from Bella to focus on her rescuers. To look adorable, the human characters smile a lot, a bit too much, to the point of looking like the black people from Get Out. They’re also cardboard cutouts, with the villain in particular packing in all the clichés you expect from a bad guy in a movie about dogs.

As passably fine A Dog’s Way Home is, Turner and Hooch still remains the gold standard for doggie movies, and it’s odd that every other movie of the same genre is so far down on quality in comparison. Maybe Tom Hanks needs to star in every dog movie to take the focus away from the soppiness that comes as baggage along with the genre.

Updated Date: May 04, 2019 14:43:10 IST

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