Get out the tissues! Those lovable dogs are back.
A Dog’s Journey is the delightful sequel to A Dog’s Purpose and follows the same trajectory.
The story demonstrates that animals that die go to doggy heaven, where they can gambol through a golden wheat-filled field of dreams before being reincarnated as yet another version of Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), the Pyrenean mountain dog from the original production.
This tale of canine devotion through the ages is so doggedly manipulative that even the most jaded viewer will find a tear or two to shed. It even touches on the sensitive issue of cancer as a side plot.
Directed with care by Gail Mancuso, this story is adapted by W Bruce Cameron and several collaborators from his own novel.
It reunites us with Bailey and his owners Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). Their story was told in the first film (although it’s not necessary to have seen A Dog’s Purpose).
Their son has died, leaving behind his widow Gloria (an excellent Betty Gilpin) and her toddler daughter CJ, who live on the idyllic farm Ethan has inherited. Bailey is getting old, as is Ethan.
When Gloria, a self-obsessed frustrated singer who is overly fond of the good grape, takes CJ away to a life that will be difficult without her loving grandparents, Ethan charges the dying Bailey with seeking out the young girl and protecting her.
As the movie progresses, Bailey reincarnates as various breeds, named Molly, Big Dog and Max, and each life is accompanied by a story with CJ as the focal point.
CJ – played as a child by Abby Ryder Fortson and later by Kathryn Prescott – eventually cuts her mother completely from her life. CJ has one adventure after another and learns about life and living, with the various dogs guiding her through each experience.
A Dog’s Journey is heavy-handed in the sentimental department, with appropriate music, accompanying some serious life choices.
Cynics may not buy into this one, but then I guess I’m a softy at heart.
Cast: Kathryn Prescott, Dennis Quaid, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Marg Helgenberger, Abby Ryder Fortson.
Director: Gail Mancuso.
Classification: 7-9 PGD.