A Dog's Journey
Dennis Quaid stars in director Gail Mancuso’s family-adventure-comedy-drama, ‘A Dog’s Journey.’

Title: ‘A Dog’s Journey’

Director: Gail Mancuso

Starring: Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott, Dennis Quaid and the voice of Josh Gad

Some friendships transcend lifetimes. That’s certainly true for dogs who find their purpose in helping their beloved owners. But humans can also discover their passion in life through having a dog as a companion, as it teaches them how to respect the welfare of all living beings. That all-too-important message is sentimentally presented in the new family-adventure film, ‘A Dog’s Journey.’ The close bond that people and dogs have for each other is affectionately showcased once again in the sequel to the heartwarming 2017 hit comedy-drama, ‘A Dog’s Purpose.’

The screenplay for ‘A Dog’s Journey’ was written by W. Bruce Cameron, who also penned the movie’s predecessor, as well as the books both adaptations are based on. He co-scribed the new passionate script with Cathryn Michon, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky. The follow-up was stunningly brought to life by director Gail Mancuso. Universal Pictures is set to distribute the inspiring film in theaters tomorrow.

‘A Dog’s Journey’ follows beloved dog Bailey (the voice of Josh Gad, who once again narrates the story, much like its predecessor) as he finds his new destiny. He forms an unbreakable bond that will lead him, and the people he loves, to places they never imagined.

Bailey is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his owner, Ethan (Dennis Quaid, who returns from ‘A Dog’s Purpose’), and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger, who also returns from the original movie). He even has a new playmate: Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, CJ. The problem is that CJ’s mom, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), decides to move her young daughter to Chicago, after she has a disagreement with the parents of her late husband. As Bailey’s soul prepares to leave this life for a new one, he makes a promise to Ethan to find CJ and protect her at any cost.

Thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives, which are filled with love, friendship and devotion. As CJ (Kathryn Prescott as the teen and adult version of the character) grows older, she navigates life largely on her own, due to the growing disconnect she has with her mother. But she finds comfort in spending time with her dog, Molly, who’s one of Bailey’s incarnations, as well her best friend, Trent (Henry Lau as the teen and adult version of the character) experience joy and heartbreak as they finish high school. After graduation, the friends drift apart, but ultimately reunite in New York City when CJ’s new dog, Max, another reincarnation of Baily, determinedly brings them back together. Through both tribulations and joy, CJ learns the true meaning of what it means to unconditionally love others.

Much like its predecessor, ‘A Dog’s Journey’ powerfully highlights the inspirational and emotional explorations of love and loss that people experience with their dogs, as the pets give their owners unconditional support and a greater sense to their humanity. The sequel also offers a gripping and enthralling new take on a human relationship that wasn’t seen in ‘A Dog’s Purpose’: the dynamic of issues between a young girl and her emotionally distant and at-times neglectful mother. While the original movie chronicles the difficult situations that Ethan found himself in with his passive and inattentive father, the sequel offers a relatable perspective on CJ learning to stand up for herself when Gloria refuses to do it for her.

Mancuso was the perfect choice to step into the director’s chair for the second installment in the franchise, and bring Cameron’s follow-up story to the screen. The filmmaker effortlessly brought a sentimentality and relatabilty to not only the challenging aspects of mother-daughter relationships, but also a girl’s overall coming-of-age journey, and finding her rightful place in the world. Also infusing the humorous antics of Bailey, first through Molly and then through Max, CJ is able to realize that she shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, especially when it comes to pursuing her life goals.

‘A Dog’s Journey’ is an emotionally-driven and realistic story about discovering what it means to be loved in the right way. CJ looks to dogs for the unconditional love she should be receiving from her mom, who, at times, was an indifferent and distracted parent. Between Mancuso’s careful consideration as a helmer of what it means for women to learn to stand up for themselves, to the comical antics that Baily takes to help CJ find the love and support she so desperately craves and the over-arcing heartfelt examination of love and loss that people experience with their dogs, the second screen adaptation of the popular series enthrallingly finds the humanity in all relationships and beings, both human and canine.

Technical: A-

Acting: B

Story: B+

Overall: B+

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Director Gail Mancuso's family-adventure-comedy-drama, 'A Dog's Journey,' which stars Dennis Quaid, Kathryn Prescott, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau and Josh Gad as the voice of Bailey
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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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