August 26, 2019  (Web Review)

A Dog’s Journey

Universal, 109 min., PG, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Aug. 20

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Beginning where Lasse Halström’s A Dog’s Purpose (2017) left off, this syrupy sequel with Buddhist philosophy overtones imagines that a dying dog’s life-force reawakens in the body of another canine. The story begins on a peaceful Michigan farm that belongs to Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). Voiced by Josh Gad, Bailey is their Great Pyrenees Bernese Mountain dog, gently bonding with their toddler granddaughter Clarity June, aka “C.J.” Their son was killed in a car accident one month before C.J. was born, and their widowed daughter-in-law Gloria (Betty Gilpin) is drinking far too much wine. When familial tensions erupt, angry Gloria takes C.J. and moves to Chicago to pursue a singing career. Before cancer claims the aged Bailey, Ethan begs his loyal spirit to take care of C.J. So Bailey returns as Molly, a mischievous beagle/spaniel mix who reunites with neglected 11-year-old C.J. (Abby Ryder Fortson), and C.J.’s best friend/neighbor Trent (Ian Chen). As time passes, now-grown C.J. (Kathryn Prescott) will face her own sorrows and Bailey’s spirit will be reborn again. Adapted from W. Bruce Cameron’s 2012 best-selling novel and directed by TV comedy veteran Gail Mancuso (Modern Family, Roseanne), this shamelessly sentimental canine reincarnation tale goes for formulaic emotional engagement over character development. Optional. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director Gail Mancuso, deleted and extended scenes (11 min.), a gag reel (7 min.), and the production featurettes “Working with Dogs” (6 min.), “A Dog’s Sequel” (5 min.), “Everyone’s Best Friend” (4 min.), “A Healing Journey” (3 min.), and “Scoring the Journey” (3 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release are bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for a lackluster franchise entry.] (S. Granger)