A Dog’s Journey: Manipulative? Yes. Effective? Absolutely

Review: It’s a dog’s afterlife in this sequel to the family-friendly A Dog’s Purpose

Dennis Quaid and ‘Bailey’ in A Dog’s Journey

Film Title: A Dog's Journey

Director: Gail Mancuso

Starring: Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott, Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Emma Volk

Genre: Family

Running Time: 118 min

Fri, May 3, 2019, 05:00


This sequel to the family-friendly reincarnation dramedy A Dog’s Purpose makes life a little easier for its canine protagonist, Bailey. The first film required an Incredible Journey and several dog lives before Bailey was reunited with his “boy” Ethan (aged into Dennis Quaid) on a Michigan farm. As A Dog’s Journey opens, Ethan and Bailey have been joined by Ethan’s wife, Hannah (Marg Helgenberger), her quarrelsome widowed daughter-in-law, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), and a toddler granddaughter, CJ.

When Gloria storms off in a huff, taking CJ with her, Ethan tells a dying Bailey to find the girl and look after her. A Dog’s Journey sticks rigidly to that premise, ditching the portmanteau form of its predecessor. It also ditches the earlier film’s rather important message about canine care. There are no characters as lonely or mistreated as Toby, a euthanised puppy from an unwanted litter, or Waffles, the St Bernard who lives his early years in a yard.

A Dog's Journey trailer

Dennis Quaid, Kathryn Prescott and Henry Lau are ready to mist up. Who could blame them?

The format continues to allow for many partings and doggy death scenes. Mark Isham’s big orchestrations are perfectly counterpointed by Emily Bear’s jaunty piano. Dutch DOP Rogier Stoffers (The Secret Life of Bees, The House with a Clock in Its Walls) opts for golden, gauzy skies. Dennis Quaid, Kathryn Prescott (playing the older CJ) and Henry Lau (playing her love interest) are ready to mist up. Who could blame them? Is A Dog’s Journey manipulative? Absolutely. Is it effective? Hell, yes.

Director Gail Mancuso is careful to keep the content family-friendly.  But parents of very young viewers should be aware of subplots concerning Gloria’s incautious life choices and CJ’s brief dalliance with a Bad Boy. 

Out May 3rd