A Dog’s Journey, a film based upon the book by W. Bruce Cameron, is now out in theaters, depicting the life of a dog named Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) and his quest to find and protect his female owner. The movie is a great addition to the A Dog’s Purpose series, in spite of a few flaws.
The film is the sequel to A Dog’s Purpose (another movie based on a book by Cameron), but this time, instead of being directed by Lasse Hallström, Gail Mancuso directs the film. Most of the same writers returned to work on A Dog’s Journey, including Cameron himself, preserving the same tone and style from the book. This similarity helps the two movies blend nicely into what seems like one big story.
In A Dog’s Purpose, the main human character, Ethan (played by Dennis Quaid), saves Bailey from being locked in a hot car. As the film progresses, the film depicts Bailey pondering the meaning of his life and searching for his purpose. Bailey is reincarnated as various different dogs, ultimately deciding his purpose is to find and always be there for Ethan.
Bailey has a similar goal in A Dog’s Journey. This time, however, Ethan entrusts Bailey with the job of watching over his granddaughter, CJ (played by Kathryn Prescott). As he is reincarnated again, Bailey finds CJ and vows to carry out his master’s request to protect her. Throughout CJ’s life and throughout his many lives, Bailey always finds CJ and helps her through her struggles.
The story is engaging and very emotional like many dog other movies, but with its own charm. While other similar movies are known for sad moments in which the dog dies, this movie makes these kinds of moments less sad, still providing the viewer hope of a happy ending as Bailey is reincarnated and continues to fulfill his purpose.
The plot of the film is fairly simple and loose, focusing on various events throughout CJ’s life, from her childhood to adulthood. It was transferred well into the movie, cleverly adjusting the film’s story to match the book’s.
Like most movies based on books, the film does differ quite a bit from Cameron’s novel. This is especially due to the added inconsistencies between the first book and film, most notably the ending which differed dramatically. Despite this, the movie still has the same plot and matched up with the book throughout much of it while tweaking other parts.
Some parts of the film (mostly the beginning) did seem very rushed, trying to fit in the exposition necessary for the viewer to understand the rest of the story. This is because they are forced to first explain the events of the previous movie as well as what happened between the two. As stated earlier, this rarely seems to occur within the middle or end sections of the movie where the flow of information seems much smoother.
The way the movie is presented is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the experience, as it is presented in a dog’s perspective.
However, although the heartwarming film is packed with scenes featuring the dog, not very much of its plot revolves around him. The movie often focuses on CJ’s life instead of Bailey’s perspective on it, squeezing in sometimes awkward bits of dialogue and narration from Bailey. Because of this, the film has less of the charm of its predecessor and sometimes seems more like a drama with a dog inserted into it.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by A Dog’s Journey. After first watching the trailer, I originally was expecting the movie to be a bit over-the-top with its humor and acting, barely following the plot of the book. After watching it, however, I can say that I really enjoyed it and the way it was cleverly based upon the book while also being made its own thing.
Despite its flaws, A Dog’s Journey still is a great movie for dog lovers with meaningful themes of love, commitment, and companionship, as well as a great story. In the end, it fairly accurately captures the story of the book and makes a great sequel to the original.
I give 7 dog treats out of 10.