Directed by: Charles Martin Smith
Starring: Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Bryce Dallas Howard
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
Release date: 3 May, 2019
Running Time: 96 minutes
Budget: $18 million
A Dog’s Way Home is a 2019 family adventure film directed by Charles Martin Smith from a screenplay by W. Bruce Cameron and Cathryn Michon, based on the 2017 book of the same name by Cameron. The film stars Ashley Judd, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi, Chris Bauer, Barry Watson, and Jonah Hauer-King, and follows a dog named Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) who travels more than 400 miles to find her owner. It was released in the United States on January 11, 2019, to mixed reviews from critics, and has grossed $80 million worldwide, making it a moderate box office success.
A Dog’s Way Home Movie Plot:
Lucas and his girlfriend Olivia, two residents of Denver, Colorado, find a puppy in a construction site along with many kittens and a mother cat. He names the dog Bella and takes her home to live with him and his mother. Lucas continues to feed the cats at the old house, which puts him in the crosshairs of Gunter Beckenbauer, the man who wants to demolish the house. He even calls the city about the cats who live there, which delays the demolition. To get revenge, Gunter arranges for Bella to be declared a pit bull, because Denver has outlawed pitbulls as a dangerous breed.
When Bella is eventually captured, Lucas picks her up, pays a fine, and is allowed to take her home. However, he is warned that if Bella is picked up again, she will be put down. To avoid this, Lucas sends Bella to live with Olivia’s aunt and uncle in Farmington, New Mexico, until he and his mother can find another home outside of Denver’s urban limits. However, Bella misses Lucas so much that she leaves Farmington and begins a 400-mile journey home, which will take more than two years to complete. She encounters a pack of coyotes, befriends a cougar cub, and helps rescue a man buried in an avalanche during her journey. At each place she goes, she learns that each of her new friends has its own home, and how she must keep moving to get back to her family.
A Dog’s Way Home has grossed $41.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $38.3 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $80.2 million, against a production budget of $18 million.
In the United States and Canada, A Dog’s Way Home was released alongside the openings of Replicas and The Upside, as well as the wide expansion of On the Basis of Sex, and was projected to gross $9–10 million from 3,090 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $3.3 million on its first day, including $535,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $11.3 million, finishing third at the box office, behind The Upside and holdover Aquaman. In its second weekend the film made $7.1 million, finishing sixth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 63% based on 75 reviews with an average rating of 5.48/10. The website’s critical consensus reads “A Dog’s Way Home may not quite be a family-friendly animal drama fan’s best friend, but this canine adventure is no less heartwarming for its familiarity.” On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the film has a score of 50 out of 100, based on 14 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A–” on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly called the film “Heartwarming, mildly funny, and occasionally thrilling without ever being anything more than just fine.” Tomris Laffly writing for RogerEbert.com called it “a good dog movie with its heart in the right place” and gave it 3 out of 4 stars. Courtney Howard of Variety writes “For every shameless trick the filmmakers employ to pluck our heartstrings, resonant chords are struck elsewhere, teaching audiences about family, the power of unconditional love, and the ripple effects of compassion.”
A Dog’s Way Home Movie Trailer:
A Dog’s Way Home Movie Review:
This manipulative tear-jerker based on a popular canine story of the same name is soppy but effective, and aimed squarely at viewers who love animals.
It’s directed by Charles Martin Smith, whose resume includes similar crowd-pleasing titles like the two Dolphin Tale movies and Air Bud. This time, he tracks the adventures of a pit-bull named Bella (voiced in sappy tones by Bryce Dallas Howard).
The core of the script, penned by the source author W Bruce Cameron in collaboration with his wife Cathryn Michon, focuses on Bella’s perilous two-and-a-half-year journey home to her beloved master (Jonah Hauer-King) following a run-in with local animal control officers.
En route, the doggy has to stave off starvation and wolf attacks while also ensuring the safety of an orphaned cougar cub (rendered unconvincingly via CGI).
Predictably, the last act unfolds in full-on heartstrings-tugging mode. But even the most hard-hearted cynics are likely to shed a few furtive tears.