Whether they have a dog or not, humans definitely have a soft spot for our furry canine friends. A Dog’s Journey, a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose (2017), exposes this love for them in the biggest way.
Based off of the novel written by W. Bruce Cameron, who also wrote the book A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey continues on from the previous movie, with the re-incarnated Great Pyrenees/Bernese Mountain dog mix named Bailey (Josh Gad, Frozen) living on a farm with what he calls his ‘boy’ named Ethan (Dennis Quaid, The Rookie) and his ‘girl’ Hannah (Marg Helgenberger, CSI) as a married couple. Except now there is a new addition to the family.
Hannah’s son, Henry, had a child with a woman named Gloria (Betty Gilpin, GLOW). Henry died in an automobile accident while Gloria was still pregnant.
As a result, Ethan and Hannah opened their home to a young and devastated Gloria and eventually her daughter CJ (three actors from a variety of ages). Gloria tends to be a careless parent, as she still suffers from the loss of Henry. Because of this she often clashes with Ethan and Hannah. Not only that, but Gloria has a strong dislike for dogs in general, especially Bailey. Despite Gloria’s hostility towards him, Bailey tries to show Gloria the love he shows everyone else. Even with his efforts, Gloria continues to loathe him.
Though Gloria may have a distaste for him, her daughter loves Bailey with a passion, a mutual feeling. Bailey believes his purpose in life is to protect and support CJ throughout his many lives in the movie.
It is Bailey’s love for CJ and other humans that makes this an overall immensely heartwarming and uplifting movie. The impact that Bailey has on different people’s lives is remarkable. Although the way he plays cupid by bringing people together may not be realistic, when Bailey licks his owners to express his adulation, the way he looks at them with infatuation and how he lays with them when they’re feeling down, are the things that really make dogs special. When the owners need his comfort he is there for them. And these acts of affection are what truly embodies a dog’s role in a human’s life.
Like a lot of dogs do for their owners, Bailey serves as a support system. When CJ feels down, Bailey is there to comfort her. The bond between Bailey and CJ shows how much of an effect dogs can have on humans’ lives.
The main flaw in the movie, however, is the impractical actions of Bailey, such as his playing cupid. Although this may be sweet and would be fitting for a Hallmark movie, I don’t think this embodies the true remarkableness of a dog’s love for its owner because dogs simply don’t perform actions like that in real life. The movie would have been better off exhibiting the simple things a dog does. More scenes showing Bailey simply comforting CJ with her hardships by always greeting her with a wagging tail, lying down with her and playing with her were needed. Perhaps the movie could have been about a dog that broke someone out of tough times just by being a normal dog that loves his owner, instead of one that can play matchmaker.
Now let’s talk about something that dictates a lot of the plot I’ve been analyzing, the narration. The narration of Bailey is painfully straightforward by essentially telling us he loves CJ. Sometimes things are best validated through one’s actions. Gadd’s voice is fitting for an oblivious and curious Bailey, who is very similar to the innocent character of Olaf in Frozen, who Gadd also voiced. If a dog could actually narrate a movie, it would do it like Gadd did.
The narration could get a tad repetitive; however, for a plot that revolves around the dog’s perspective, it was needed for the movie to make sense, principally for the reincarnation scenes. Audience members would just be too confused without an explanation after each time Bailey dies and moves onto his next life.
Speaking of that, the reincarnations of Bailey into several different dogs is a clever idea, but at times it seems like you are just waiting for Bailey to die and go on to his next life. I couldn’t get too attached to the character because it would soon be euthanized or killed in a car wreck.
There is a brief moment in the movie when Bailey isn’t living with CJ and lives with another owner named Mike, who gives Bailey a nice home. I would have liked to see Bailey bond with this character more and for it to be shown how he affected Mike’s life, to exhibit how a dog can impact anyone’s life with its love; however, Bailey is too concerned about finding CJ throughout his life with Mike to really have an impact on him.
One person that Bailey has a colossal impact on was Ethan, played by Dennis Quaid. Quaid does an exceptional job playing the aged Ethan. He reminded me of a wise old fellow who could easily be an actual person. The sadness Quaid portrays when Bailey dies the first time is almost tangible and seems very real. Quaid’s exquisite acting makes the scene even sadder than it should have been. You could just feel the pain he is going through and how much Bailey means to him.
Though there are some flaws to the film, how Bailey believes his sole purpose in life is to serve CJ is relatable to how dogs behave in real life. Much of dogs’ lives revolve around their owners. The fact that Bailey takes forms as many dogs that he is reincarnated to, yet still shows the same love and bond with CJ in each form, demonstrates that all dogs, big and small, fluffy or scraggly, have a love for their owners rivaled by no other. That’s the thing about dogs that makes them special to people. While different relationships come and go, as you make mistakes, as you simply live life, your dog will love you no matter what. And although the movie doesn’t deliver in some aspects, it definitely displays how a dog can provide that for a person and was overall a heartfelt film that explained the role of man’s best friend in our lives.