In Denver, Colorado, a litter of cats and dogs live together harmoniously underneath an old abandoned house. When their tranquillity is threatened by a nasty landowner, Bella, a Pit Bull puppy, escapes an equally vicious animal controller and befriends Lucas (Jonah Hauer-King). Lucas lives with his mother, Terri (Ashley Judd) a veteran suffering from PTSD, and Bella quickly establishes herself within the family and endears herself to Terri’s fellow military colleagues.
However, their peace is short-lived as the threat of violence to them, and indeed Bella, sees her temporarily re-homed far away from danger. But, Bella’s a determined dog and the invisible bond between her and Lucas unleashes her desire to promptly embark on a long and perilous quest to get back to him.
During her adventures Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) contemplates settling down in various places, but always feels compelled to go home. She encounters some colourful characters, befriends a cougar, saves the life of an ungrateful skier, stumbles upon hunters, finds herself stalked by wild dogs and ends up as an old man’s best friend in a heart-breaking social observation of how America treats some of its war heroes.
Instantly likeable Jonah Hauer-King is full of warmth and charm as Lucas, and his presence is missed during Bella’s two-and-a-half-year expedition. Ashley Judd finds the right balance of melancholic despair tinged with hope at Bella’s arrival and Bella herself is cute, clever and charismatic without being annoying.
Throughout the film there’s an underlying sense of love, unity and family that combines effectively with action, wit and drama. Although some of the CGI may be questionable and Bella’s narration occasionally lacks the emotional response it’s aiming for, none of that matters as her unexpected journey unfolds.
Featuring a beautiful score and some enchanting cinematography of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and its surrounding scenery, A Dog’s Way Home is a delightful family film containing a finale guaranteed to thaw even the frostiest of hearts.
A Dog’s Way Home is out in UK cinemas from January 25th.
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