Cast: Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott
Director: Gail Mancuso
Rating: * * * ½
The sun and moon have an immutable destiny, fixed by scientific laws. Animals and humans have a different kind of destiny. But as Scripture sums it succinctly: We know neither the day nor the hour when the Day of the Lord will occur. In “A Dog’s Journey” the sequel to W. Bruce Cameron’s bestselling A Dog’s Purpose, the titular canine knows its destiny and the reason for its existence. Which is to love and to protect and, as the Mosaic commandment goes, to choose life.
Our hero dog’s journey stretches over time and space. Bailey has a Hindu/Jain/Buddhist world view, because he chooses many lives, eventful lives, to fulfil his destiny and forge an enduring bond with not just the Michigan farmer Ethan (Dennis Quaid) who had rescued and adopted him but also his grand-daughter (Emma Volk, Abby Rider Fortson playing the child’s role) and (Kathryn Prescott, adolescent).
The (admittedly far-fetched) story unfolds from the canine’s perspective while he reincarnates as a new breed -beagle/spaniel mix, a Corgi (Queen Elizabeth’s favourite breed) all of whose stream-of-consciousness meditations are vocalised by Josh Gad who imbues the doggie with a witty, narrative voice.
Some days/hours/moments belong only to dogs and humans. To have fun, to converse, to communicate. (You might remember Hugh Lofting’s Dr Dolittle who talks to various animals including dogs who even help solve a murder case). There are plenty of dysfunctional people in the film under review – an alcoholic parent, abusive boyfriends – and regular folks who believe in the second coming of beloved pets like Ethan and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger).
Their interactions with their beloved dog serve to underline loyalty, perseverance, empathy and companionship, notably the value of having a dog who loves you unconditionally. Expect then, poignant and unabashedly sentimental journey. Be moved as you surrender to a dog’s luminous love which defies human logic.