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 – Kin

Personally, I didn’t like this movie. I was expecting some sci-fi action and a futuristic dystopia…and what I got was a boring gangster film. Seriously, not my gig. I would have walked out if I didn’t have to cover it for RunPee. I’m actually mad at this film: it presented itself as a young-adult/sci-fi/dystopian film. Which it wasn’t. It was a street gang type movie with a futuristic gun in the mix.

It’s well made, so I’ll give it a B – for competence. But it seriously pissed me off; the only sci fi elements happened in the last five minutes — and the only reason we got that at all was clearly to set up a sequel. I don’t expect this sequel will ever happen, like many YA franchises that fizzled out.

What I can say is the actors really did give it a go: they were all in for the ride. The father, in particular, was extremely spot on for the character’s prickly yet loving (and perhaps borderline abusive) persona. This competency should be no surprise, as Dennis Quaid played the part.

A surprisingly amazing Zoe Kravits stole the show out from everyone in her role as Milly, the stripper girl. She made every scene of hers keenly watchable with her sympathetic and amusing character. This young actress is someone to watch as she matures into future roles. I know she plays a large part in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film, and I look forward to seeing how she handles her Slytherin role outside of the classrooms at Hogwarts.

Will this go on to become a franchise? I honestly don’t think so, even though the denouement of the film was devoted to setting up the next installment. I see almost all the YA dystopian films for RunPee, and very few of them will be the next Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or even Twilight. I count this one as a non-starter, along with so many others in this category. And because most of the film had nothing to do with science fiction or a dystopian future, it’s kind of a conundrum as to who this film is targeted toward.

Grade:  B-

About the Peetimes: Kin was an easy movie to get Peetimes for — there is a lot of downtime in between the hyper violent gangster scenes. I have 3 Peetimes for you, nicely spaced apart. I do recommend the first Peetime at 31 minutes, if you can manage your bladder for it.

Related on RunPee: 

Sad, Sorry YA Book Series That Never Completed Their Movie Franchises – Here’s a list of Young Adult series that will probably never see completion, for better or worse

Movie Review – The Darkest Minds – Yet another Young Adult Dystopian film that feels a lot like many others that came out of last decade’s love affair with young people who are either 1. the Chosen Ones or who have 2. Superpowers.