Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey – Manipulatively Emotional, But The Least Heart-Rending of the Dog Trilogy

Movie Review - A Dog's JourneyI’m relieved to say this heartrending three-movie schmaltz-fest is over. I did the Peetimes for each movie in the semi-trilogy, and was relieved that A Dog’s Journey made me cry the least. By which I mean I cried only three or four times, and these were little teary moments, not the big gulping ugly cries I endured in A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Way Home. (Links go to my reviews. Yes, I’m a masochist and saw all three.)

I was prepared, though. I brought tissues! This marks the first time in ten years of RunPee movie-going that I preemptively (one fan said I should call it ‘pee-emptively’) came prepared to cry. So, if you’re curious, YES, the dog dies in this movie.

Many times. Confused? Read on.

A Dog’s Purpose

In A Dog’s Purpose, Bailey the dog dies and reincarnates. A LOT. I cried a river for  about hours. It was brutal.

A Dog’s Way Home

In A Dog’s Way Home, it’s no longer about Bailey or reincarnation (it’s actually a remake of The Incredible Journey), but the film is considered Bailey-adjacent. Call it a Shared Universe.

That doesn’t let you off the emotional hook, though. All kinds of fresh torture awaits the sensitive dog lover, most tellingly in a devastating scene with Edward James Olmos as a homeless vet who dies alone in the wilderness…with the titular dog chained to his body, a few feet too far from the river to drink. FOR DAYS. Imagine taking your kids to this. Or rather, don’t.

There’s also a scene where the dog gets hit by a car trying to cross a busy freeway…and just lies there…consider this a PSA. I was twitching during that entire sequence, and I think everyone else was too. If you’re a sensitive sort, you can skip the middle movie entirely and just focus on Bailey’s bookend films.

A Dog’s Journey

Which brings us back to A Dog’s Journey. Or, rather, the end of his journey. I’m telling you these things so you’ll be prepared. This isn’t a spoiler — even under the best conditions, dogs don’t live much longer than a decade. This last flick returns to the theme of reincarnation, but somehow is a lot easier on the heart-strings overall. I have to wonder if writer W. Bruce Cameron took pity on his audience and eased up on the heartbreak on purpose.

Should you see a A Dog’s Journey?

Ultimately, A Dog’s Journey is actually a good movie to take your kids to (although you’ll have to explain a few things about dog souls and the Rainbow Bridge).

I’m pleased to say this film is a good evening out — more sentimental than sad. I don’t have a headache from crying, and feel reasonably stable. Can’t expect more than that, right? I mean, it’s a DOG MOVIE. Are there any movies about pets that aren’t tear-jerkers? Even John Wick lost it when his dog was [redacted]. Is it a cooincidence that John Wick Chapter 3 came out today as well…?

Overall, A Dog’s Journey was nicely filmed. The acting (aside from the reliable Quaid) wasn’t very exciting, but the movie is well paced, looks good, and delivers some affably low-key doggy humor. No canine actors were in mortal peril this time, unlike in the first film. The dogs do great work, especially “Molly” — but then, I have a soft spot for beagles.

If you love dogs — and why would you see this kind of thing if you don’t? — you’ll know you’re being emotionally manipulated, but the tale’s more sweet than tragic. Thankfully.

Grade: B-

PS: As per your requests, we are adding an Alert Warning to the Peetimes this film on the RunPee app re: traumatizing dog moments. (But at this point we’re pretty sure you know this about W. Bruce Cameron and his canine oeuvre. This film is the gentlest of the three. Relatively speaking.)

About The Peetimes: This was a fairly simple film to get Peetimes for. Here are 3 evenly spaced Peetimes that don’t feature any big emotional moments or plot points.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Dog’s Journey. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic content, some peril and rude humor
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Is A Dog’s Way Home a Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose?

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose

Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home

Movie Review – Tolkien – Biography of the Master of Middle Earth

Movie Review - TolkienI don’t normally watch biographies. We don’t usually get Peetimes for them either, but this was TOLKIEN. The author of my favorite novel, movie, and world: The Lord of the Rings. So it wasn’t just any biopic to me, and Tolkien wasn’t just any author. Lord of the Rings (or LOTR) is a magnificent 1000+ page work of high fantasy, penned by JRR Tolkien as a sequel to the shorter, more youth-oriented The Hobbit.

With The Hobbit published and successful in 1937 (which the movie gets around to in a fantastic end moment that made me literally weep with joy), Tolkien was tasked with creating a ‘hobbit sequel’. This is a case where the sequel outshines its original by a great magnitude, and is literally Tolkien’s life’s work. (Let’s not discuss The Silmarillion here.) [/CanOfWorms] 😉

A new form of world-building fantasy

According to the Wikipedia, LOTR was “written in stages between 1937 and 1949, and is one of the best selling novels ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.”

LOTR also established the groundwork for nearly every novel, series, and film franchise in the fantasy genre to follow, introducing readers to a form of world-building never accomplished before. Tolkien invented entire languages and thousands of years of backstories, timelines and genealogical histories for his handful of mythological races, which he called the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth.

Before Tolkien, we had ancient ballads, plays, and operas to give us fantasy worlds, yet works like Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Beowulf, Shakespeare’s plays, The Iliad and the Odyssey, and the collected stories in Greek/Norse Mythology are very grandiose and quite a bit remote.

LOTR gave readers a story about fallible, often funny individuals who weren’t princes or warriors. In fact, the two main heroes of LOTR are a bookish young man and a gardener. The warriors, kings, and even wizards and dragons appear, of course (it’s still a high fantasy saga), but mostly as supporting characters. You didn’t need a professor to explain the plot to you. You could relate to the heroes. No one had seen anything like this before.

Legacy of the Lord of the Rings

There wouldn’t be any Harry Potter without The Hobbit and LOTR. The Star Wars Saga, Game of Thrones, modern Disney, Pixar and even the 23+ movie spanning Marvel Cinematic Universe owe a huge debt to Tolkien. Name any memorable work of fantasy or space opera, and you’ll find roots buried deep in Middle Earth.

Tolkien – the LOTR author’s biographical movie

Okay. So, I just went off on a long, rambling tangent, not unlike the super long novel in question, and the great films of Peter Jackson that finally paid justice to the source. But was Tolkien, by itself, a good movie?

Yes, very much yes. You have to be a Middle-Earth fan to appreciate it, but I loved seeing JRR — Ronald to his friends — in his early life, full of experiences that informed his creations. Tolkien has said he “cordially despises allegory in all forms”, but it’s hard not to see Mordor and the works of Sauron in the No Man’s Land of World War 1. Ronald is a sort of proto-Frodo, with a young Sam, in the trench scenes. Flames, ash, and great black clouds recall the fumes of Mount Doom.

I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the horror of The War to End All Wars before. It must have felt like the end of an Age. And in many ways, it was. (Compare: World War 2 offered a modern battle tableau, although it wasn’t long after WW1.)

One movie scene in particular, where Ronald lies unconscious in a hole full of the dead by a pool of noisome toxicity, recalls almost precisely Frodo’s fretful sleep before the Black Gates of Mordor.

Other ways The Lord of the Rings is hinted at in Tolkien

What else? Edith has an otherworldly personality and intellect — clearly the basis of Arwen Evenstar. The ‘Cellar Door’ courting scene is exquisite, and Ronald waited as long for Edith as poor Aragorn did for Arwen.

The pastoral countryside of England is very like The Shire, and Ronald’s passionate literary friends had obvious nods to The Fellowship  of The Ring (as explicitly noted in the trailers).

One of Ronald’s buddies had an immortal line where the audience barked in laughter: “It shouldn’t take six hours to tell a story about a magic ring.”

He was talking about Wagner, but Tolkien must have took that as a personal challenge. I’d love to know if his friend actually said that. (In another note, I did attend a showing of Wagner’s Ring Cycle Opera in Vienna once, and it IS incredibly long. Too long. Especially if you don’t speak German.)

A trip to Oxford, and The Inklings

The Oxford scenes had especial meaning to me, as I lived and worked at Oxford University in a post-college internship, and personally wandered through many on-location settings in the film. It was a vast treat to return there cinematically, making me long for an extended visit these many decades later. I even frequented The Eagle and the Child, a pub where Tolkien and The Inklings — who are fated to only appear after the movie ends — sat and shared literary chapters as they wrote them. It thrilled me to quaff a pint at the same table where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis discussed Lord of the Rings and the Narnia stories, working out the kinks of their epics.

Summarizing Tolkien as a movie experience

So, I’m a total geek with an encyclopedic working knowledge of Tolkien…but I think this biography is accessible to anyone who’s ever read the books or seen Peter Jackson’s movies. I was engaged, moved and thrilled, and though no Hobbits nor Rings of Power appear, Tolkien the film is still a very good time. I’m glad I expanded my horizons enough to look at the author as a real man, and not just a random shadowy figure recording the journeys of Frodo, Gandalf, Strider, Gollum, and Samwise Gamgee.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This was a hard movie to find Peetimes for. The movie cuts back and forth between war action, “Fellowship” character building, and important scenes at Oxford University. Both Peetimes center on the romance in Tolkien’s life: while they are nice, they are the least crucial bits building up to Tolkien’s masterpiece. The 2nd Peetime is recommended. Note: There are no Peetimes in the second hour, so plan accordingly.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Tolkien. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for some sequences of war violence
Genres: Biography, Drama, War

Are Modern Movies Too Long?

How RunPee Began – A Retrospective on Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong

Movie Review – The Best of Enemies

Movie Review - The Best of EnemiesThis biopic is set in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971. First of all, the plot took me by surprise, given the magnitude of racial tension that still exists. This is not your normal racially-charged kind of black-versus-white-movie where tensions escalate, folks get hung, justice is never served, and everyone walks out the movie theater quiet and mad as hell. Nope, this one is completely different.

Durham is faced with a court-order to desegregate its schools when the black school becomes severely damaged, and those students need a place to learn. Unfortunately, the whites are against the blacks coming to their school, so a court-order is issued, and the town must figure out how to solve the problem themselves with little financial help from the State. The State calls upon the help of a Raleigh organizer known for his success in implementing charrettes.

char·rette /SHəˈret/ (wiki)
a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions.

During the span of the Durham charrette meetings, two co-chairs are selected who are the most vocal/influential in the white and black communities, respectively; then more community members discuss issues and concerns, a senate is developed of representatives that will vote on desegregating the schools overseen by the co-chairs, and an open-forum is held where everyone from the community are invited to witness the voting process.

Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) are chosen as the co-chairs. C.P. is the president of the Ku Klux Klan and Ann is an aggressive and “by any means necessary” community activist. The two of them know of each other very well and the thought of working together for the charrette makes their blood boil, but they agree to co-chair for selfish motives. C.P. is a typical KKK member with a family and owns a gas station. He has a son with Down Syndrome that doesn’t live with the family, but in a nearby psychiatric center. While C.P. is a tough guy filled with hatred, his weakness and soft spot is his ill son. Despite the hatred Ann has for C.P., she uses this weak spot to forge their Best of Enemies relationship.

While the relationship isn’t like that seen in the movie Greenbook, Ann softens C.P.’s heart, one artery at a time. The dynamics of how their role in the charrette plays out is really interesting and thought-provoking. C.P. discovers the void in his life as a child that influenced his membership into the KKK may no longer be valid, but that epiphany comes with drastic consequences. However, his newfound friend comes to his rescue, yet again.

Overall, the acting was good. The plot kept a good pace and didn’t dilly-dally to get to the climax. Ann’s brass and sassy humor will have you laughing throughout the entire movie. In addition, Taraji’s acting was spot-on, right down to that walk (I chuckled a couple of times watching that walk).

On the other hand, the plot doesn’t provoke a need to discuss the issues with friends later on after seeing the movie. The movie will, however, stimulate some self-reflection on how we treat others. But, given that our country seems to be widely-divided right now and sometimes mirrors the 60s and 70s racial undertones, I’m not sure many people will leave the theater creating a charrette of their own, or singing Kumbayah. Wait for the credits at the end to discover how C.P. and Ann’s friendship evolved after the charrette experience.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: It was difficult finding good Peetimes for this well edited and well paced movie. At times, it seemed like the start of a scene would make a good Peetime, but then the plot thickened, adding value to the story. I would suggest suggest the 2nd Peetime.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Best of Enemies. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for thematic material, racial epithets, some violence and a suggestive reference
Genres: Biography, Drama, History, True life story

Movie Review – Pet Sematary – A Worthy Adaptation

Movie Review - Pet SemataryThe newest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, was a solid remake. Thirty years after the original release, the makers attempted to revive their cult classic film. That’s a huge undertaking, and an enormous gamble, considering the die-hard fans of the original. To please or not to please — that is the question.

They took a chance and drastically changed the plot…and it worked! I loved what they changed up and was very satisfied they didn’t shame the original.

From the trailers, I had two major red flags go off. These differences were huge to me, and made me cringe in fear of a total flop.

First and foremost, the cat. The original Church exemplified terror. He was a majestic British Short Hair that is, and always will be, iconic. I was scandalized that they were using a fluffy, long haired Maine Coon. What?! This in my mind was going to be a CATastrophe! So there I was, sitting the theater waiting for my disappointment to build, and low and behold, Church 2.0 won me over. This cat worked it on the catwalk; his performance was CATaclysmic. Well done. I was wrong.

My second gripe was Jud’s role. When I saw and heard John Lithgow in the trailer, I thought to myself, “Lithgow’s got some Munster-sized shoes to fill.” To me, no one could replace Fred Gwynne. He 100% owns that part in Hollywood History. So again, I’m sitting there waiting for the disappointment. Happily, because of the drastic plot changes, Lithgow pulled it off. He melded perfectly into the film. Almost. They fleshed his character out more so than the original, and that was an enjoyable addition. My one complaint: the essence that was lacking in his role was a result of a directing issue.

So I am now two for two on my fears being squashed. Kind of like a kitty cat on a heavily traveled road. Squish. I love it when movies prove me wrong.

There are a few minor issues that I’m going to throw in real quick. Jete Laurence as Ellie Creed had a very big part to fill. Her presence just wasn’t strong enough. She was okay, but I could see the possibilities, I felt she came in just under the bar the rest of the movie set.

Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed also slightly bothered me. However, after a long discussion with RunPee Mom, we deduced it wasn’t her fault. The character itself isn’t endearing, and we’re saying that about Denise Crosby’s portrayal too. Rachel comes across as weak and needy, but that’s how she was written. So technically, Seimetz pulled her part off. I’m a very strong-willed person and I don’t like it when women are portrayed that way, but here, it worked.

I like ending my reviews on a positive note, so let’s praise Jason Clarke: he was awesome as Louis Creed. His performance was phenomenal, as was little Hugo Lavoie. He did a dandy job as Gage. I’m sad I didn’t hear “No fair,” or “Now I wanna play with youuuu,” but he was still fabulous.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag about what I thought, I’ll end by saying, “Great job! I was not disappointed.”

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This is a pretty short movie. 2 Peetimes were picked, and they both allow you plenty of time.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Pet Sematary. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for horror violence, bloody images, and some language
Genres: Horror, Thriller

Movie Review – Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Movie Review - Nancy Drew and the Hidden StaircaseWho would have thought that Nancy Drew would still be rocking it after 89 years?

This new and improved version of Nancy Drew is perfect for the target audience of today’s prepubescent girl. The movie addresses bullying, body image hating, peer pressure, and the need to fit in as the new kid in school. So it’s a job well done for the writers, and director Katt Shea. Young girls will flock to this movie.

The acting was well done, and I can’t say enough about the performance given by Sophia Lillis as Nancy Drew. She provided most of the comedic relief with her perfect delivery of some hysterically funny lines. The ‘new Drew’ is spunky, funny, rebellious — but in a cute way — and smart, and doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘no’ or ‘you can’t do that’. She’s a great role model!

And it was so nice to see Linda Lavin — of Alice and Barney Miller fame — is still cranking out product at 82 years young.

I whole-heartedly recommend Nancy Drew for kids of all ages, but most especially, prepubescent girls.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was a short movie, needing only 1 Peetime. I chose 1 at about half way through the movie: it gives you plenty of time to get back to your seat before the drama picks up again.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for peril, suggestive material, thematic elements and language
Genres: Crime, Drama, Family

Movie Review – Fighting with My Family – Pleasant, Non-Demanding Fun

Movie Review - Fighting with My FamilyFighting with my Family is a pleasant little true-life-based sporting movie leaving you feeling a little happier than when you went in.

It’s not about Earth-shattering events or anything particularly profound for humanity, and it doesn’t need to be. It’s a small and surprisingly charming story: a young woman gets plucked out of obscurity in the UK to train for the big leagues of US WWE Diva wrestling. Cue the nominally familiar underdog narrative…but it works.

The best part of the movie is how it’s grounded by a loving, oddball wrestling family. The rough-n-tough parents seem intimidating at first, until you realize how sweetly kind these people are, and how much they care for each other.

The comedy is never over the top: you buy the reality of these people. Kudos to the acting and directing team for making this tiny corner of history so palatable — and relatable.

I also appreciated the brother’s side-tale of changing the lives of underprivileged youngsters in his neighborhood, via instruction and a strong sense of community. (The blind wrestling teen was a highlight, and I could have watched an entire movie about him. Somebody make this film happen.)

In any case, Fighting With My Family is almost entirely about the daughter. Paige’s story is a quite a bit like the blockbuster scenario of Rocky — just younger, female, and on a different scale. Also, this series of events really happened. 🙂 We get a young “buck” with a lot of raw potential, who gets tested too far, and lets her coach and family down. She finds her “Eye of the Tiger”and gets serious about pursuing a WWE championship goal. This isn’t brand new material, right? But the movie makes it fresh.

Something I appreciated was Paige’s clear joy in the sport itself. And make no mistake, the movie makes pro wrestling look exhausting, but also super fun. Now I want to be tossed around a ring, bounce off the bungies, and leap over people who know when to duck (yet know how to make it look real). I had no idea the whole pro wrestling scene was so playful and adventurous. There are scenes where pros decide whether to take random PR stunts in stride, like being thumped on a bed of thumbtacks, to getting smacked in the head with a garbage can lid. If you can take it, it adds to the fun, and everybody gets paid. Even The Rock is thankful for someone who took a spectacularly painful fall to make him look good (in a really satisfying small scene that’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention).

However. One thing you should know before you go: The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) isn’t in this film very much — he bookends the plot. But he shouldn’t be the center of this film. It’s not his story. As he was involved in these real events — creating this film was his passion project — he takes up just as much visual space as he should. It works. I hope it went down in reality just like this.

Still. This is THE ROCK, and he’s got quite a WWE legacy before he became a movie star. His opening “mentoring’ scene is NOT to be missed. It’s priceless and I’m still smiling over it. Don’t run to the toilet then…use our Peetimes. 🙂

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was an easy film to find Peetimes for. I won’t let you miss any moment The Rock appears, or any of the best fighting action. I recommend the 2nd Peetime if you can manage it, but all are fine.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Fighting with My Family. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content

Genres: Action, Biography, Comedy, Drama, Sport, True life story


 

More Movies Starring The Rock: 

Quiz – The Rock AKA Dwayne Johnson – Action Hero with Surprising Range

Movie Review – Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle

Movie Review – The Fate of the Furious

Movie Review – Skyscraper

San Andreas – movie review

Movie Review – The Tooth Fairy

 

Movie Review – They Shall Not Grow Old

 

Movie Review - They Shall Not Grow OldWatching They Shall Not Grow Old was an experience unlike any I’ve had before. Knowing all these fresh-faced boys, who were initially so excited about going off to war were about to die: that was hard. Unlike most movies when the director yells ‘it’s a wrap,’ the actors go on to another movie: in this film there was no one to hear the director speak. They were all dead — even the voices we hear in the narration are all dead. Doesn’t that feel like a gut punch?

In my audience, there were men whom I’m sure were veterans of war. Are they the target audience? Maybe. [pullquote]But here’s the thing; the target audience should be everyone who’s old enough to know what the word war means.[/pullquote] This film should be on every history teacher’s syllabus. Also, there were a few young men and women in the audience who were there to admire the technical aspect of the revivification of the 100 year old footage.

[pullquote position=”right”]I will pass along this warning: if you have lost any family member to war, as I have — my brother, Danny, in Vietnam — this film will be beyond painful.[/pullquote] As I watched the camera pan over the trenches filled — yes filled — with bodies of both men and horses, it was difficult to determine if the body part was man or animal. I couldn’t help but wonder if Danny suffered the same sort of injuries. I did not sleep well last night.

Even with all the carnage, the saddest part of the film was when the narrators spoke of coming home, and the mistreatment they endured from people with the mentality of ‘just get over it’. [pullquote]PTSD was just a dot on horizon of mental health and it would take decades before it was recognized as a treatable mental health problem.[/pullquote] The WW1 vets took to alcohol and drugs, just as they do today.

The survivor’s guilt that came home with so many vets would eat away at them like a bad cancer. It’s a never ending source of anguish. I was a flight attendant flying out of New York during 9/11, so I speak with authority.

If you wonder why I can bring up so many negative aspects and still give this film an A+, allow me to explain. Any flick that can generate the emotions I felt, deserves an A+ and nothing less. This film is just another way of paying homage to the many men and women who have given their lives, so that today we citizens of America have the right of free speech…so we can bicker about a wall.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: Before the film begins, we see a 3-4 minute exposition by Peter Jackson, who explains how he became involved in this project. You will start your timer AFTER this short clip, as the WB logo fades.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of They Shall Not Grow Old. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for disturbing war images
Genres: Documentary, History, War

Quiz – King Arthur and his Legend

King Arthur – the man, the myth, the king of Britain. Who doesn’t like a quiz about wizards, castles, magical swords, knights, ladies, kings, and queens? I’ve kept the questions at a middle school level, but no matter your grade, jump right in and enjoy this 10-question quiz!

Quiz – King Arthur

Hope you enjoyed this fun little test, and perhaps learned a few new things about the legendary Once and Future King of Camelot. Maybe you can share it with your teacher and show him/her how well you pay attention in class. 😉

Is A Dog’s Way Home a Sequel to A Dog’s Purpose?

a dogs way home by w bruce cameron
It’s sort of a sequel and definitely a reboot.

Well, is it a sequel? Yes. And no. It’s also kind of a remake. I’ll get to that in a minute.

A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Purpose, both written by W. Bruce Cameron, are intended as the first two parts in a “shared universe” dog trilogy. This is slated to culminate in A Dog’s Journey later this year.

What both current movies have in common — besides, you know, dogs — is a desire to make their audiences cry. So if that doesn’t sound like a fun time, neither of these films are for you. At least try not to see them alone.

Another thing that stands out is how morbid both stories are. Life, death, and life again are repeating motifs in what on the surface would seem to be harmless family films. [pullquote]I don’t want to spoil any plots, but some freaky things happen in both Home and Purpose that make me wonder what the writer intends for the final film in his doggie-verse.[/pullquote]

One thing you might recall from A Dog’s Purpose is how the titular dog, in one of his lives, has a swim rescue scene where the actual canine actor almost drowned. That kind of terrifying real-life event can go on to sink a franchise, and the new movie will probably remind everyone of Peta’s Purpose movie boycott action: “No amount of spin from Hollywood will change the fact that being forced to do a terrifying stunt is not a dog’s purpose,” said PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange in a statement. “PETA is calling on kind people to boycott this film and send the message that animals should be treated humanely, not exploited as movie props.”

So  I’m a little surprised a follow-up got greenlit, and that the writer returned to the death-theme well once again.  [pullquote position=”right”]There’s one section with veteran actor Edward James Olmos that’s so upsetting I’m shocked A Dog’s Way Home doesn’t come with a disclaimer.[/pullquote]

I mentioned above that A Dog’s Way Home is also a remake, because the theme of ‘pet crossing the country to get home’ has already been told a few times on the big screen. The 1963 live action Disney film The Incredible Journey features a bull terrier, a lab mix, and a Siamese cat who band together to cross a vast distance and help each other through many dangers…and it’s still the film to beat.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) was a rebooted version with a few changes (this features the animals narrating, as does the one canine in A Dog’s Way Home), but is essentially the same story.

I’m willing to bet W. Bruce Cameron saw both of these movies.  🙂

Movie Review – A Dog’s Way Home – A Harrowing Experience for Dog Lovers

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose – A Brutal Experience in Non-Stop Crying

Movie Review – The Upside

Movie Review - The UpsideThe Upside was a mixture of heart and humor. (Pun intended.) Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston were superb together. The dynamics that developed between the two characters were so well acted that I didn’t want the movie to end. I just wanted to keep seeing these two guys growing and learning together.

The laughs don’t stop. I saw the show in a sold out theater and the crowd was loving it. I’m sure there were even more laughs than I heard, but the crowd was roaring in a few spots, making it hard to hear the following lines.

Humor: check!

It’s also touching. Both characters are working on their own personal demons from polar opposite positions. It’s all about how the two very different men help each other.

Touching: check!

I’m used to seeing Kevin Hart play in comedies that — let’s say — lack a certain depth, which is fine; he’s good at that. Hart shines in this movie in a way he never has before.

So yes, Kevin can pull off emotional and sincere characters too. He’s great at that. I want to see him push it even further and see what happens. I think we’d all be pleasantly surprised.

As for Bryan Cranston, he’s always amazing. His talent shined here, even with only being able to use his face for comedic purposes — he hit it out of the park.

I would recommend this movie to friends and family without hesitation. I read a few reviews on The Upside and saw some pretty nasty ones, which shocked me. I think my brain works on a different wavelength than those critics. I feel that if I laugh, don’t get bored, and walk away happy, then I’ll give it a great review!!

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: It was extremely hard finding a few moments where I wasn’t laughing. I chose these 3 after throwing out 3 others, because I simply couldn’t make it through typing them without laughing hysterically.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Upside. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for suggestive content and drug use
Genres: Comedy, Drama