Movie Review – The Art of Racing in the Rain

Movie Review - The Art of Racing in the RainThe Art of Racing in the Rain is yet another animal flick to tug at your heart strings. Are you a dog lover? If you answer yes, then this movie will not only tug at your heart strings, but will rip them out of your chest and wrap them around your windpipe.

One man in my theater was sobbing so hard, he was having a difficult time breathing. It kinda scared me for a second, but my eyes quickly went back to the screen.

The production quality of the movie was good and I have absolutely nothing negative to say about ‘Art’. I read the book when it first came out, being a big fan of Garth Steine. I realized then that if it were made into a movie, Kleenex stock would rise dramatically. The movie followed the book very well.

A lot of critics have panned it for the saccharine dialog, but hey, Hollywood loves ‘Sweet & Low’. Why is saccharine a bad thing? Everybody needs a good cry every once in a while. (It cleans out the tear ducts.)

The movie is about a dog who wants to die because he once saw on television that when a dog dies he returns to Earth as a human. More than anything, Enzo wanted to race in the rain someday. I enjoyed Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo. Maybe Kevin will return to Earth as a dog.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering; did I cry? No. Why, you ask? Besides being just a bit hard-hearted [according to any one of my four husbands], I have an uncanny ability to separate reality from fiction.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This movie was evenly paced, making it easy to get 2 good Peetimes. Both give you 4 minutes to break, so let your bladder decided.

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

Rated (PG) for thematic material
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Tear-Jerker

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

Each Dog Death in A Dog’s Journey

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

 

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

 

Movie Review - A Dog's Way HomeA solid B film where I ugly-cried six times, including within the opening three minutes. That’s got to be some kind of record. I wrote down how many times I cried as I jotted down notes for Peetimes (and my male companion cried three times, so it’s not just a girl thing).

In any case, I really don’t like movies that make me cry and try to avoid them, but since I saw the previous year’s A Dog’s Purpose, I felt I should see the ‘sequel.’ (A Dog’s Journey is not technically a sequel, but this is intended to a be part two of a dog trilogy in a shared universe.)

In any case, I’ve been referring to this as “The Dog Movie” — and that’s exactly what you get. There are a few people, some cats, and lots of pretty scenery, but for the most part you’re in the mind of a young part-pit pup who’s got a single-minded goal to play “Go Home”…a long, scary, and thrill-filled “game” that takes her over two and a half years, and 400 exhausting miles.

Bella’s not the world’s smartest dog, but she’s loving, loyal, and committed to reuniting with her human. I’m not going to give anything away, and while you probably can guess how it ends, a few things happen along the way that will surprise you.

For one thing, an almost unrecognizable Edward James Olmos has a couple of emotionally distressing scenes, and those will probably upset children.

Speaking of which: there were some little kids in my theater, and they were restive at times, because things get gripping and tense frequently. I don’t recommend letting your children see this alone, to be honest; you might get them back scared and crying. There’s a scene that’s even frightening for adults: I was legitimately freaking out watching a confused Bella try to cross that six lane interstate into Denver.

There were some weird filming liberties here and there, like a brief bit showing a moose (there are none in Colorado…but since this was filmed in British Columbia, we’ll just let that go). And the CGI animals were badly done, jarring me out of a few scenes where fake critters interacted with real ones.

Bella the dog was thankfully a real animal, and she did a fine job carrying the story on her canine shoulders. Bryce Dallas Howard narrated Bella’s thoughts, and was pleasing enough in an earnest way. Bella meets a lot of nice people along her journey, and I loved the bookend scenes with the disabled vets. No one really stood out though, which was appropriate in this kind of flick. The writer did a great job having the POV center almost entirely on Bella.

In the end, A Dog’s Way Home is a mostly-harmless fluff film that dog lovers will appreciate. You’ll forgive me though, for saying the Disney classic Incredible Journey from 1963 is still the best version of this kind of tale.

PS: These kinds of things do happen with animals. I had a beloved dog escape from my dog-sitter in Arizona and make it across the desert by himself to San Diego, CA. He arrived in a few weeks, with bloody paws and a lot of hunger, but he did make it, and we were reunited.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 Peetimes, and recommend the 1st if you can pop out early. Pay attention to the Peetime meta in this film and you’ll be okay with the second 2. (This movie is a series of repetitive travel scenes, intercut with emotional vignettes you won’t want to miss.)

Animal Abuse Alert: This movie has intense scenes of animals in peril. Children and animal lovers will find a lot of this movie disturbing — too many scenes to make them all into Alerts.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Dog’s Way Home. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic elements, some peril and language
Genres: Adventure, Family

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

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

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

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

Movie Review - A Dog's PurposeThis was a hard movie to rate, because I feel so angry at the producers for even making this emotionally manipulative sob fest. Nobody should see this.

The target audience: people who love dogs beyond measure, AND don’t mind crying almost nonstop for an entire film.

I can’t even begin to describe how painful this movie experience is. I feel terrible, lonely, and even broken. The entire audience was weeping all around me, over and over, with every dog death. After the movie, people leaving the theater only mentioned how dreadfully sad they were.

The movie employees also mentioned they will never see this one, after seeing the condition people are in afterward.

I will have to add more thoughts after I sleep this off. The good: the movie is not poorly made. The dog voiceover had charm. Puppies are cute. Horse-dogs are amusing.

So much pain is going on in the real world right now. I don’t recommend paying money and deliberately going out for an evening of celluloid sorrow. Last note: if you do go, do not see this alone.

UPDATE: I promised I would add more, so I am looking over my written review notes. Things I wrote:

“A ‘fluff’ movie — forgive the doggie pun — with a people-oriented Hollywood ending almost nobody will be happy with. Sure, these things happen, but few of us are lucky enough to have the timing right. The message of the movie seems to be about being lonely – no matter what revelation the dog felt compelled to tack on at the end. One person attempted to clap after it was over, and it was roundly ignored by the rest of the theater, in seeming solidarity. That person was even shushed by their seatmate.”

I never warned anyone off a movie before, but am now telling everyone I meet: this one is a manipulative dog turd.

Grade: C

About The Peetimes: This was a tough movie to find Peetimes for, since many of the lives Bailey experiences fly through rather quickly. I added Peetimes that are easy to sum up.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of A Dog’s Purpose. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic elements and some peril
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Buy the movie from Amazon.com on DVD or Blu Ray

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

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

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