Review: ‘A Dog’s Way Home’ wins viewers’ hearts despite confusing storyline

Strong ideas executed poorly in heart-warming film


Courtesy of Bona Film Group.

The drama/adventure movie, “A Dog’s Way Home” is sure to win people’s hearts. Director Charles Martin Smith creates a unique theater experience by filming the entire movie in the perspective of a pitbull named Bella, who is trying to find her way back to her owner Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King). During her 400 mile journey, Bella encounters obstacles and makes memorable friendships. This film shows all dog and cat lovers there is no bond like one shared between a beloved pet and its keepers.

Throughout the 96 minute film, viewers follow Bella and experience her love, discipline, loyalty and nostalgia towards Lucas. A main conflict in the movie was Bella’s breed because pitbulls are not legal in Denver, the setting of the movie. Smith beautifully depicts pitbulls as being kind and delicate creatures rather than an aggressive breed. Smith also briefly features a gay couple who love and take care of Bella, which is important to mention due to the controversy people from the LGBTQ+ community face; although he knew he would receive backlash with this choice, it was refreshing to see people of different races, backgrounds and lifestyles to be included.

One of the movie’s flaws were the poorly written characters. Because the film revolves around the point of view of Bella, the audience saw only what Bella would see. This made it extremely hard for the audience to become attached to any particular character, even the main protagonists of the movie. Although the acting was exceptional, the actual script was incohesive.

Although the film was rated PG, parents argued it should be raised to PG-13. This is because it contains scenes which may be disturbing to the audience, especially for younger viewers. “A Dog’s Way Home” shows a dead body for a couple minutes, so fair warning to those who are sensitive to graphic material.

The majority of the movie takes place in the forest with an animated cougar. The computer generated imagery (CGI) made it difficult to enjoy the movie because the cougar looked so fake and unbelievable.

Apart from the poor animation and characters, the actual storyline was difficult to keep up with because of the constant going back and forth from side characters to the cougar. It didn’t help that we did not get any background with Lucas in the time spent apart. By the time Lucas and Bella reunite, more than two years have already passed and the audience is left with unanswered questions as to what specifically changed.

Though Smith had a unique idea having a dog as the main character, the storyline was all over the place and made it extremely hard for the audience to keep up or even become invested in the movie. Despite this, it was a success at being a ‘tear-jerker.’ The film deserves 3 out of 5 stars for being diverse and including multiple cute dogs. Bella’s great acting and discipline did not go unnoticed; it made the movie more enjoyable because the filmmakers used a real dog rather than a CGI version. Had the characters been more believable and the script more developed, this film definitely would’ve earned 5 out of 5 stars.