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

Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose

Movie Review – Johnny English Strikes Again

 

Movie Review - Johnny English Strikes AgainThis movie wants to be Austin Powers. It’s the same set-up, the same cringe humor, the same British secret service bumbler who nevertheless gets the job done (in spite of his inherent ineptitude). The difference: Austin Powers is ten times more amusing. Rowan Atkinson tries, and sometimes succeeds, but mostly seems to be resting on his Mr. Bean laurels.

Granted, I didn’t see the original Johnny English films, and maybe those were hysterical enough to warrant a threequel.

Johnny English Strikes Again had a half-baked plot, propped up by a few amusing set pieces. The Virtual Reality sequence was certainly a highlight. I’d see the movie just for that cute and wacky scene. (I loved seeing English using baguettes like fighting staffs.) But the rest of the film went like this: English makes a mistake, his servant Bough would quietly fix it and take no credit; then English would preen. End scene; repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Fade to black.

The genre is getting a bit full anyway. Now we have a whole range of Brit intel movies, on a seriousness continuum from the (modern) James Bond movies, to the less straitlaced but still cohesive storytelling of The Kingsman, on down through the mediocre levels of Johnny English, to the bottom of the deliriously silly level with Austin Powers.

I just don’t see a need for Johnny English. And I think the audience agrees with me. Who sat in the theater on opening night? Me. And one or two other people. Whereas my earlier showing of Mid-90s was packed.

But, as I said, there were a few good moments to be mined. English teaching the kids how to be spies was cute. The aforementioned VR scene was great. There was a message buried in the film about how the world of espionage has changed with the advent of cell phones and cyber space. How we view technology will never be the same as Bond’s good old analog days, and it’s a nice bit of self-awareness for a spy movie to recognize this — it’s gone beyond nifty pens that become grenades (although, granted, this is tossed in there too). And there’s an interesting contrast between the iconic red Aston Martin spy car and the more useful hybrid. The world is changing, and spies have to adapt.

I might be making this movie sound better than it is. Let me rest your noggin: I gave this film a C-. I doubt it will last more than a week in the theaters, but it might have some life on streaming platforms. My suggestion: if you LOVE Atkinson, Mr. Bean and/or the first two Johnny English films, by all means see this in the theater. Otherwise, this is an easy one to skip. Save your money.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: Here are 2 good Peetimes, where were you won’t miss any of the best humor or action. Both are 4 minutes in length and nicely spaced apart. 

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