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Is “A Dog’s Journey” one of the sweetest canine films out there, or one of the meanest? While I generally favor the latter reading, the gentle sniffling mixed with occasional awws and chuckles that broke out during my screening suggests the majority of the audiences will understandably lean otherwise, as they did with the film’s 2017 predecessor, “A Dog’s Purpose.” In theory, this unconditional affection seems mighty unjust for a shameless family franchise that kills an average of four to five dogs per movie, sometimes, in unspeakably wretched fashions—seriously, where is John Wick when you need him? And yet, as visually uninspired and ideologically conservative as it may be, there seems to be something beguiling about the series that keeps one (including myself, admittedly) on a short leash. Turns out, very few are immune to the sneaky suggestion that certain dogs and humans are meant for each other for life.   

This is indeed the philosophy behind TV veteran Gail Mancuso ’s “A Dog’s Journey,” which follows in the paw prints of its Lasse Hallström-directed ancestor with its assembly line of doggie fatalities. (Every dog-loving cinephile’s most cherished website “DoesTheDogDie.com” must be having a field trip with these films.) And before you cry out “spoiler alert,” know that spelling out the mounting corpses of our four-legged furry pals in these tearjerkers is not exactly a wrongdoing. Adapted from W. Bruce Cameron’s best-selling novels, the pair of syrupy films follows a Buddhist philosophy, imagining a world in which a dog’s spirit reincarnates in the body of a new adorable puppy (somehow, voiced by Josh Gad even when it’s a female) and pursues its original human to eternity.

“Journey” picks up where “Purpose” had left off, dropping us on a tranquil Midwestern farm ran by the impossibly wholesome couple Ethan ( Dennis Quaid ) and his wife Hannah ( Marg Helgenberger ). Their carefree “Boss Dog” Bailey, a handsome Great Pyrenees Bernese Mountain Dog, runs around the picturesque fields and happily chases his own tail, while keeping a watchful eye on Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter CJ (affably played by Abby Ryder and Kathryn Presscott in later ages), parented by the couple’s heavy-drinking widowed daughter-in-law Gloria ( Betty Gilpin ). Bailey exits the picture soon enough—poor Boss Dog has a cancerous lump—but returns promptly in the body of Molly the mischievous Beagle, reuniting with the 11-year-old CJ to keep a promise he’s made to Ethan. Now living away from her grandparents with the negligent Gloria, CJ finds the kind of comfort and support every child needs in Molly.

Our determined pooch returns again and again as Bailey drops dead in a continuous loop: once, as the African Boerboel Big Dog living on a roadside convenience store (or, “a house made of snacks,” as he calls it), and then as the snippy Terrier Max. Meanwhile, CJ goes through her own transformation and finds herself in the unforgiving streets of New York City as a budding musician with a severe case of stage fright. A series of mean boyfriends—one, a dangerous stalker responsible for Molly’s horrific death—doesn’t help with her insecurity, until she stumbles upon her beloved childhood friend Trent ( Henry Lau ) and falls in love. (Guess what wet-nosed character masterminds the reunion with a paw shake and tail wag?)

Rest assured, there is sufficient amount of cuteness to go around in “Journey,” complete with dutiful canine humor around pooping, face licking, and the perpetual pursuit of food. But while the film engages with the sadness and despair of certain life crises head-on—an unexpected case of terminal illness is especially well-conceived in that regard—it strangely falls short of treating others with the empathy and seriousness they deserve. Written by Cameron, Maya Forbes , Cathryn Michon and Wallace Wolodarsky , the story is outright hostile to Gloria, a paper-thin character whose mourning and alcoholism receives a cruel one-dimensional treatment. A gold-digging ex-girlfriend of Trent suffers in the hands of a similar caricaturized vision. And yet, no one comes to a film like this, where the world is divided into absolute goods and evils, for nuance or subtlety. If you can look behind the flat visuals and prescriptive pleasantries of “Journey,” you might just get on board with its compelling-enough tale of lost souls, found and lifted up by their forever-loyal pooches. On this earth and beyond.

Tomris Laffly

Tomris Laffly

Tomris Laffly is a freelance film writer and critic based in New York. A member of the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), she regularly contributes to  RogerEbert.com , Variety and Time Out New York, with bylines in Filmmaker Magazine, Film Journal International, Vulture, The Playlist and The Wrap, among other outlets.

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Film credits.

A Dog's Journey movie poster

A Dog's Journey (2019)

Rated PG for thematic content, some peril and rude humor.

120 minutes

Dennis Quaid as Ethan

Betty Gilpin as Gloria

Josh Gad as Bailey (voice)

Abby Ryder Fortson as Young CJ

Marg Helgenberger as Hannah

Kathryn Prescott as CJ

Ian Chen as Young Trent

Daniela Barbosa as Liesl

Jake Manley as Shane

  • Gail Mancuso

Writer (book)

  • W. Bruce Cameron
  • Maya Forbes
  • Cathryn Michon
  • Wallace Wolodarsky

Cinematographer

  • Rogier Stoffers
  • Robert Komatsu

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A dog's journey, common sense media reviewers.

a dog's journey movie review

Sequel is as sentimental and emotional as the first film.

A Dog's Journey Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Strong messages about the life-changing bond, unco

Ethan and Hannah continue to be wonderful role mod

A dog dies on different occasions. In one particul

A married couple embraces, dances, briefly kisses.

Infrequent language includes a few uses of "idiot,

Recognizable brands include Dodge, MacBook, iPhone

Quite a bit of drinking by Gloria, who's nearly al

Parents need to know that A Dog's Journey is the sequel to 2017's sentimental A Dog's Purpose , both of which are based on W. Bruce Cameron's best-selling books about a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) that's reincarnated again and again with the purpose of finding a specific human to protect and love. This…

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the life-changing bond, unconditional love, and connection between dogs and their humans. Promotes idea that people aren't meant to go through life alone, that they're happier and more fulfilled with both human partners and animal companions. Clear themes of empathy, perseverance.

Positive Role Models

Ethan and Hannah continue to be wonderful role models: kind, helpful, disciplined, loving. They take good care of Bailey and CJ. The dog always believes his/her purpose is to defend, protect, and love his/her human companions, nevers stops looking for or protecting his/her human. CJ is lonely and sad at times but loves her dog and her best friend, Trent, who's supportive, generous, encouraging. Gloria is an alcoholic and neglectful mother but eventually takes responsibility, asks for forgiveness.

Violence & Scariness

A dog dies on different occasions. In one particularly painful scene, Bailey dies in Ethan's arms receiving a euthanizing shot. Another version of Bailey dies in an accident, others die of old age. An abusive boyfriend purposely crashes into his ex-girlfriend's car. Another boyfriend is verbally demeaning, grabs his girlfriend. An older adult dies surrounded by people (and pet) he loves. An alcoholic mom is neglectful, leaving her daughter alone a lot of nights. A girl is frightened of a storm, upset that her mother isn't around.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

A married couple embraces, dances, briefly kisses. Teens make out in a car. From dog's perspective, a young couple "licks each other's faces" -- like Ethan and Hannah used to when they were younger. At one point, the dog narrates, "They look like they want to lick each other."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Infrequent language includes a few uses of "idiot," "dumb," and "stupid." A mom hurls the word "chubby" like an insult. "Oh my God" as an exclamation.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Recognizable brands include Dodge, MacBook, iPhone, Slim Jim, Cheetos, Whole Foods, Ford, and Jeep.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Quite a bit of drinking by Gloria, who's nearly always shown with a glass of wine or a cocktail in her hand. She's clearly an alcoholic and is often drunk. Shane is obviously a drug dealer -- he exchanges cash for small packets at a party. Minor character smokes cigarettes.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Dog's Journey is the sequel to 2017's sentimental A Dog's Purpose , both of which are based on W. Bruce Cameron's best-selling books about a dog (voiced by Josh Gad ) that's reincarnated again and again with the purpose of finding a specific human to protect and love. This time around, Ethan ( Dennis Quaid ) encourages his beloved dying dog to return to find his granddaughter. There's less violence in this one, but there's still an alcoholic, neglectful parent (this time a mother) and an abusive boyfriend who literally crashes into his ex-girlfriend on purpose. Another boyfriend is verbally demeaning and grabs his girlfriend; a minor character smokes. And, yes, the central dog dies -- four times, to be exact, due to sickness, old age, and accidents. But couples don't do much more than hug and kiss, and language is tame ("idiot," "stupid"). As in the first movie, there are clear messages about empathy and companionship, as well as the power of having a pet with whom humans share unconditional love. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (20)
  • Kids say (17)

Based on 20 parent reviews

Interesting discussions about this film

Amazing....but made me sob, what's the story.

A DOG'S JOURNEY -- the sequel to 2017's A Dog's Purpose -- is, like the first film, an adaptation of W. Bruce Cameron's best-selling books about a special canine whose memories are reincarnated into a new dog each time it dies. As the sequel begins, Ethan ( Dennis Quaid ), his wife, Hannah ( Marg Helgenberger ), and their beloved dog, Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad ), are living on their Michigan farm and taking care of Hannah's toddler granddaughter, CJ, and widowed daughter-in-law, Gloria ( Betty Gilpin ), after the death of her son. When Gloria, who's angry and neglectful in her grief, takes CJ away to Chicago, Hannah and Ethan are distraught. Right before Bailey eventually dies, Ethan asks him to come back for CJ. And that's what happens: The dog returns as Molly, a puppy that 11-year-old CJ ( Abby Ryder Fortson ) adopts, while her best friend, Trent ( Ian Chen ), adopts Molly's brother Rocky. Years later, CJ (now Kathryn Prescott ) continues to be "Bailey's" purpose, even after more dog deaths and CJ's move to New York City to pursue a music career.

Is It Any Good?

Emotional and syrupy sweet, this sentimental sequel is a tribute to the enduring bond between dogs and their human best friends. Veteran TV director Gail Mancuso continues Lasse Hallstrom 's poignant touch with the story, which switches from focusing on Ethan to CJ. The CJ storyline is less violent than younger Ethan's, but it's still filled with heartbreak, a parent's substance abuse, sadness, and loneliness (save for lifelong friend Trent).

Gilpin is well cast as a selfish, disinterested mother who cares more about warning her daughter about the dangers of getting "chubby" than actually parenting her. Prescott is believable as a vulnerable, unfulfilled young woman whose greatest comfort has always come from her dog. And Henry Lau is almost too good to be true as the earnest adult version of Trent. Gad's voice is eager and steadfast as the various incarnations of Bailey, and, unlike in the first film, A Dog's Journey , audiences stay with the same family of dog owners throughout the story (with the exception of one quick detour). This movie definitely and effectively pulls at the heartstrings, so pet lovers in particular should expect tears to flow at the many tender moments between CJ and Ethan and their dogs. There's even a subplot about one of the dogs being able to detect cancer by scent, an ability a later dog can also display -- with life-saving results. For dog fans, this is a movie that affirms the kinship between humans and dogs; for others, it's a treacly sweet take on some serious issues.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the violent/upsetting scenes in A Dog's Journey. Why do you think they were included? Can a movie have violent parts and still be family friendly?

What do the human characters learn from their dog? How does the story promote empathy ? How does Bailey's journey, lifetime after lifetime, exemplify perseverance ? Why are those important character strengths ?

How does the movie portray drinking ? Are there realistic consequences? Why is that important?

How does the movie address grief, especially in relation to losing a pet? Have you ever had to deal with that? What made you feel better?

What do you think about CJ and Trent's friendship? How is their relationship different from the other romantic relationships depicted in the movie? What's the message about friends who become more?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : May 17, 2019
  • On DVD or streaming : August 20, 2019
  • Cast : Dennis Quaid , Josh Gad , Betty Gilpin
  • Director : Gail Mancuso
  • Inclusion Information : Female directors, Middle Eastern/North African actors, Female actors
  • Studio : Universal Pictures
  • Genre : Drama
  • Topics : Cats, Dogs, and Mice , Friendship
  • Character Strengths : Empathy , Perseverance
  • Run time : 108 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG
  • MPAA explanation : thematic content, some peril and rude humor
  • Last updated : May 18, 2024

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‘A Dog’s Journey’ Review: Good Boys (and Girls) on a Mission

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a dog's journey movie review

By Glenn Kenny

  • May 16, 2019

The preponderance of viral dog videos proves that the animals are sufficiently attractive, intelligent and resourceful that they don’t need stories about their reincarnation to entertain and warm hearts. Nevertheless, we now have “A Dog’s Journey,” the sequel to “A Dog’s Purpose” (2017), all about a multiple-incarnation pooch on a mission to protect a human.

We begin with the always-welcome Dennis Quaid, as a farmer with a strong bond to the shaggy St. Bernard/Australian shepherd mix Bailey. As Bailey is put to sleep, Quaid’s character begs the dog to look after his granddaughter CJ.

Among the many challenges in CJ’s then-toddler life is Gloria, a single mom possessed of more hostility than the entirety of Elvis Costello’s 1970s output. Gloria becomes a drunk and the older CJ adopts Molly, a delightful beagle/Cavalier King Charles spaniel mix who is, yes, possessed by the spirit of Bailey. (Josh Gad provides the cloying dog voice-over regardless of the gender of any individual beast.)

Adult CJ moves to New York and becomes Maggie Rogers with stage fright, or something like that. There, the new incarnation Max, a Yorkshire terrier, “improves” CJ’s life by making her homeless.

Directed by Gail Mancuso, the movie is packed with cardboard characters who only exist to check off bad-things-happen plot points. Stick around long enough and irritation may turn into incredulity as “Journey,” with the enthusiasm of a pep squad turning cartwheels, flips an increasing number of morbidity-skirting twists. Could you have predicted, when Molly learned how to be a cancer sniffer, that Max would retain that talent and use it to diagnose a central character?

I suppose it’s a genuine achievement that a movie packed with as much delightful canine (and agreeable human) talent as this one should be so insufferable.

Rated PG for mature dog themes. Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes.

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a dog's journey movie review

  • DVD & Streaming

A Dog’s Journey

  • Comedy , Drama , Kids

Content Caution

a dog's journey movie review

In Theaters

  • May 17, 2019
  • Voice of Josh Gad as Bailey the dog; Kathryn Prescott as C.J.; Betty Gilpin as Gloria; Marg Helgenberger as Hannah; Dennis Quaid as Ethan; Henry Lau as Trent

Home Release Date

  • August 20, 2019
  • Gail Mancuso

Distributor

  • Universal Pictures

Movie Review

As Bailey sits in the kitchen, in his favorite spot by his favorite chair, the aging St. Bernard can’t help but think that life is good on his little farm. His boy, Ethan, well, isn’t quite a boy anymore. And his girl, Hannah, isn’t so girlish either. But that’s OK. There’s still sunshine to lie in, chores to help with, golden fields to romp through and a purpose to fulfill. Oh, and … bacon.

Yeah, bacon is definitely good.

And that’s why the littlest member of their pack, C.J., is one of Bailey’s favorites. That toddling girl is good at playing and snuggling. But she’s great at bacon. All Bailey has to do is wait by her chair at meal times, like now, and any number of treats will drop to the floor and into his domain. Yum. Good C.J.

Now C.J.’s mother, Gloria, isn’t so much fun. Or good. Or nice, even. But since she’s the one who brought CJ into the pack, everything else is forgiven.

Maybe it’s the fact that Gloria sleeps so long or talks endlessly into that tiny box in her hand. Maybe that’s what keeps her so unhappy. Maybe it’s that stuff she drinks that makes her smell funny most of the time. Or maybe it’s that Ethan and Hannah’s son hasn’t come home. He has been gone a long time it seems. (Of course, time is something a dog like Bailey doesn’t really understand very well.) It’s probably bacon. Gloria just needs more bacon. She ought to spend more time around C.J.

Bailey would share.

As Bailey sits and looks lovingly on, though, he can sense that things aren’t so good for the humans he protects and loves. And that feeling is soon proved out as Gloria starts to yell and begins to wave her arms anxiously and grabs C.J. out of her chair.

Then, before you know it, Gloria and little C.J. leave. And this leaves Ethan and Hannah so very sad. Bailey can sense their sorrow as plainly as he can remember the taste of bacon he’s no longer eating.

But soon, Bailey gets sick with a strange lump in his belly. And before Ethan can say, “Good boy, Boss Dog,” things have gotten worse. The lump hurts. Bailey isn’t hungry, even for bacon, anymore. He’s pretty sure that he’ll be leaving soon, too.

Ethan holds Bailey’s head and looks lovingly into his eyes and says nice, soothing things as the doctor lady sticks him with a small, sharp needle. And his time—that thing that dogs know so little of—runs out. “If you come back. You look out for our C.J. You hear me?” Ethan says as he strokes Bailey’s fur.

Bailey understands completely.

You see, this isn’t the first time Bailey has had to leave. He’s left and come back many times before in the form of one canine or another. He always returns and seeks after his purpose. But now, Bailey has a new purpose, a new goal.

Bailey will come back. He’ll come back for little C.J., whatever that takes. He’ll protect her. He’ll help her.

That’s his purpose now. And guiding C.J. as she grows up will be a remarkable journey for both of them.

Positive Elements

One of the biggest positives in this film is Ethan and Hannah’s loving relationship. It’s not that they don’t have their share of worry or disappointment and pain in life. They do. But throughout all of those many ups and downs, they display a consistent love and support for each other and for their family members. They even make repeated attempts to reach out to their estranged daughter-in-law, Gloria, after she leaves with little C.J.

That kind of unconditional consistency is very much a part of Bailey’s character, too. “Loving people is my purpose,” the beloved dog declares, voicing his narrator-like internal monologue throughout the film. He even wants the best for unlikeable people, wishing that Gloria might find a dog someday. “She needs love,” he opines—accurately. And the film likewise emphasizes that intention to see the best in others, to love and be loved, as valued aspirations for dogs and humans alike.

Through most of the film, Gloria is in desperate need of that loving lesson. She makes a number of self-destructive choices that drive an adult C.J. away. But eventually, Gloria comes to understand her failings and takes steps to clean up her life and to reconcile with her daughter.

C.J.’s long-lasting relationship with a friend named Trent is also a great representation of self-sacrificial love and consistency. At different stages, these two both step forward to support and care for each other, through sickness, health and ongoing storms in their respective lives.

There are certainly sad moments here as both beloved pets and beloved people pass away . But through those painful losses, the film gently reminds us that grief is a natural part of life—especially when you love someone. Loss is something we must face, embrace and learn from, it tells us.

Spiritual Elements

This film gently hints at a heaven and a reunion with loved ones after death. The spiritual message here isn’t well defined, but at the end of the film, in the doggy hero’s apparent last passing, Bailey runs to join a loving human who’s waiting for him in an open golden field, representing paradise.

Before that final passing, though, Bailey comes back over and over again, reborn repeatedly into the bodies of different kinds of dogs. Each rebirth is prefaced with him running through that golden field of grass. Bailey’s consciousness, however, is always the same, and he retains memories from previous existences.

How that rebirthing process works or what it means is never explored. What’s more, it’s never hinted at or insinuated that humans might have those same rebirthing experiences. In fact, Bailey’s meeting with a deceased beloved human in that heavenly field, would suggest just the opposite.

Sexual Content

Gloria wears a few cleavage-baring outfits. And while C.J. is only a young girl of 11, Gloria leaves her on her own as she heads out on late-night dates. In one case we see that she has brought the guy back home, and that he’s apparently slept over. Another brief relationship implies that a guy has moved in with Gloria. And later, a twentysomething C.J. is living with her boyfriend, though we never see them in any intimate moments.

After Bailey gets reincarnated the first time, he recognizes that he is now a girl puppy (played in a humorous way). We see couples kissing, something Bailey repeatedly describes as people “licking each other.”

Violent Content

We see various incarnations of Baily’s doggy selves die on several occasions. Once, it’s from cancer: he winces and comments about the pain he feels, and his painful decline prompts Ethan to (mournfully) have their vet put him to sleep. In another life, Baily and a teen C.J. are in a car chase that ends with C.J.’s vehicle being purposely rear-ended by another vehicle. Their car crashes and flips, and Bailey is critically injured (though bloodlessly so).

A toddler C.J. wanders into a horse paddock and is in danger of being stomped by a rearing horse before she’s saved by Bailey and Ethan. As both a teen and an adult, C.J. is grabbed roughly by two different guys. In the earlier incident, her shirt is ripped and it appears she might be physically harmed (or perhaps sexually assaulted) before Bailey bites the guy’s leg so that C.J. can pull away and run off.

One of Bailey’s incarnations is a small dog that tends to bite peoples finger’s to keep them at bay.

Crude or Profane Language

We hear one clearly voiced “oh god” as well as another potentially unfinished usage of that profanity. Characters also exclaim “oh my gosh” a couple of times. Trent mentions that his father got angry about something and did a lot of “swearing in Mandarin.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Gloria drinks heavily, repeatedly downing multiple glasses of chardonnay before and after leaving her 11-year-old daughter to fend for herself. We see her quite drunk in one scene and passed out in another, and it’s obvious that her relationships with her boyfriends are all alcohol related. A sleepover boyfriend fixes drinks for breakfast, for instance, etc. In fact, a teen C.J. reports that her mom is “drunk half the time.” And Gloria justifies her inebriated choices as being something that’s perfectly acceptable for an adult.

Eventually, though, Gloria assesses all that her choices have caused her to lose—including a relationship with C.J.—and she takes steps to get sober and fix her broken life.

In spite of her experience with her mom, C.J. agrees to go to a party with a boy she likes. The house is full of underage people drinking beer. The guy tries to coax her into drinking as well, but she’s not at all interested and is very uncomfortable being at the party. We also witness the sale of some kind of illicit drug at the party, a transaction that C.J.’s boyfriend is a part of. Before C.J. can leave the party, the police raid it and arrest her.

As mentioned, a veterinarian injects Bailey, who’s suffering from the growth of a tumor, with a chemical to put the animal to sleep.

Other Negative Elements

Plenty of dog-centric giggles involve backside sniffing, doggy destruction of property, dogs peeing and defecating on things.

Gloria repeatedly illustrates what a bad mom looks like: abandoning, emotionally abusing and even stealing from her daughter.

Like its predecessor, A Dog’s Purpose , this tear-jerking flick avoids nasty content as determinedly as the average mutt scorns a bath. In fact, this canine sequel is unquestionably of the same breed and straight out of the same litter as the original.

That being so, the story’s unexplained doggy reincarnation is likely the biggest issue that parents of faith will have to navigate with little viewers. Some critics have dog-tagged that pup-to-pup soul transfer as “Buddhism for beginners,” but this aspect of the film is actually handled in a pretty non-theological way: It’s simply used as a plot device to help move a somewhat nonsensical tale forward. In addition, the movie’s depiction of heaven as a dreamy golden field of grass could be a great way to talk to kids about what Christian families actually believe when it comes to the things of life, death and the afterlife.

Other than that, there’s a bit of car-crash peril, a struggle with alcoholism, an attempted assault and the sad deaths of both human and canine characters. It’s the sort of unsettling stuff that could ruffle the fur of the youngest dog lovers in your pack.

But if you can make it past those relatively minor barks and growls, you’ll find a warm story here. It not only speaks of the bonds between people and their pets, but it also takes the time to deal with very real issues of bereavement, brokenness, addiction, reconciliation and family commitment.

A Dog’s Journey is a sweet, loving and endearing pic. And it will certainly make you smile a little bigger when you get back home to your own joyous, tail-wagging buddy.

Like Bailey, we can make a strong commitment to love our family well and to help them through the ups and downs. For some ways to add a bit more bark or a little wag to your family, check out these Focus on the Family resources:

Building Family Identity

Navigating Tough Issues in Your Family, Part 1

Score One for the Family

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After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

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A Dog's Journey Reviews

a dog's journey movie review

Whatever you want to say about any of the W. Bruce Cameron adaptations, by the time A Dog’s Journey's credits rolled, I had overdosed on cuteness.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Aug 20, 2022

a dog's journey movie review

The film celebrates family, reconciliation and loyalty.

Full Review | Aug 12, 2021

a dog's journey movie review

A truly high-quality production that smartly pays attention to pacing, performances, cinematography, score, messages and...[it] authentically pays off.

Full Review | Feb 11, 2020

Even with a relatively merciful runtime of a hundred minutes, A Dog's Journey still manages to wear out its welcome before the credits roll.

Full Review | Jan 18, 2020

a dog's journey movie review

What if dogs really aren't this annoying when we get to hear inside their head? What if they're actually very smart or lovely?

Full Review | Sep 30, 2019

This shaggy dog sequel scratches all the designated spots.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Sep 9, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

I went into it feeling a bit low and came out of it feeling a bit better. It's a reminder that sometimes there's a beauty in just going along with ordinary life, which is short, even more so for dogs.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Aug 27, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

Much of this drama is entertaining and, at times, compelling, even if it won't take a Pekingese long to work out where the plot is going.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Aug 19, 2019

If there are to be more sequels, I'm hoping that future Baileys cut the chat and hark back to a time when heroism trumped cuteness and movie dogs left the punchlines to the human members of the cast.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Aug 19, 2019

It's all sweet, silly and kind of spooky as it was the first time around.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Aug 15, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

There is so much obvious emotional manipulation occurring in 'A Dog's Journey,' you may as well be handed a box of tissues and a fluffy pillow when you enter the cinema.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Aug 14, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

It is the sequel to the 2017 film A Dog's Purpose, but the new film stands on its own.

Full Review | Jul 30, 2019

The film is aimed at those who turn their long-suffering pets into emotional prosthetics, characterized by unconditional surrender to their masters. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Jul 2, 2019

Sure it's a whole lot of fluff, but you just can't help but go along and pet this story as it strolls along.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jun 15, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

'A Dog's Journey' has more bite than you might think.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Jun 5, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

A Dog's Journey is a series of moments, tenuously connected with little impact or consequence, with Josh Gad narrating the whole thing in an increasingly irritating juvenile tone.

Full Review | May 27, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

A stale melodrama that doesn't exhibit much bite, much bark, or, really, much of anything.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4 | May 24, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

Warmhearted story about a reincarnated dog through several lives. And let's hear it for the dog actors, these guys are award worthy.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | May 24, 2019

I think it works better than the original due to following one character over the years rather than many, thus making it feel more cohesive rather than disjointed. (Full Content Review for Parents - Violence, Tense Family Material, etc. - Available)

Full Review | May 24, 2019

a dog's journey movie review

A Dog's Journey exists solely to allow moviegoers to feel feelings about dogs for 108 minutes. It is saccharine and unrelentingly sentimental, gleefully pushing emotional buttons.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | May 23, 2019

clock This article was published more than  5 years ago

‘A Dog’s Journey’ will make you cry, but it does not earn those tears

a dog's journey movie review

“A Dog’s Journey” tries to prove that it’s possible to make an uplifting movie in which a dog dies — repeatedly. That’s not a spoiler; it’s literally the plot of the film.

“Journey” rests on the same conceit as its 2017 predecessor, “A Dog’s Purpose.” In both films, based on best-selling books by W. Bruce Cameron, a dog named Bailey (voice of Josh Gad) gets repeatedly reincarnated, each time to protect someone important. The previous film focused on a character named Ethan. Now it’s Ethan’s granddaughter, C.J. (Kathryn Prescott.)

We first meet her as a toddler (Emma Volk), living with her grandparents (Dennis Quaid and Marg Helgenberger), whose son was killed in a car accident before C.J. was born. The son’s widow, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), lives with her daughter C.J. — rather tensely — on the family farm. When a major conflict arises, Gloria and C.J. head to Chicago, where Gloria is planning to pursue a singing career. Through the course of four lifetimes and various dog breeds and genders, Bailey is always there to protect C.J. from danger, including a less than desirable home life and abusive boyfriends.

There’s nothing wrong with a good cry at the movies. But a bad cry is emotionally manipulative and, well, just mean. “A Dog’s Journey” is the latter.

Because the story belongs to Bailey, we have to watch him die, over and over. At these moments, it feels like the entire film is structured to get the audience from one death to another. Although there are some very nice scenes between Gloria and the adult C.J. (as well as with the tween version, played by Abby Ryder Fortson), how can we appreciate them if there’s always this looming sense of doom? Is it even possible to enjoy Gad’s charming performance while we’re waiting for the next time Bailey goes to doggy heaven — a place that looks like the field Russell Crowe glowered over in “Gladiator”?

A movie should earn our tears. And it does that by giving us complex characters to whom we can relate. It doesn’t have to take long: “Up” did it in a near-silent opening montage that covered the span of a married life in just minutes. Here, nearly all the characters are underwritten. When it comes to Gloria, it’s just vicious. Gilpin manages to add some nuance in early scenes, where it’s clear that her anger and selfishness come from grief at the loss of her husband. But eventually, the script falls back on an old trope: she’s a bad mother because she drinks wine (admittedly too much), wears leather pants and has her own headshots hanging on the wall.

There are laughs; many of them come from the fact that dogs sniff rear ends and relieve themselves in inappropriate places. Cleverer moments show up from time to time, though they’re few and far between.

“A Dog’s Journey” plays on one of the rawest nerves humans have: the one triggered by our bond with dogs. (If you want to add tension to any scene, just put a dog in jeopardy). The love we share with our canine companions is one of the simplest emotions there is, and to build an entire film around manipulating that love is lazy storytelling. If you want to cry at the movies, “A Dog’s Journey” will achieve that. If you want to have a satisfactory cry — one that comes from empathy and not cheap emotional ma­nipu­la­tion — stay home and watch “Up.”

PG.  At area theaters. Contains mature thematic elements, some peril, rude humor, drinking and minor drug use. 108 minutes.

a dog's journey movie review

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Film Review: ‘A Dog’s Journey’

Canine reincarnation is once more the narrative throughline of this gloopy, goofy, mostly good-natured sequel to 'A Dog's Purpose.'

By Guy Lodge

Film Critic

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'A Dog's Journey' Review: Another Syrupy Tale of Canine Reincarnation

You know things are bad for women in Hollywood when there’s one female dog featured in canine cutefest “A Dog’s Journey,” and it still gets to be voiced by Josh Gad. That is, admittedly, an unavoidable consequence of this family franchise’s curious Buddhism-for-beginners premise: the idea that one mind and soul can be carried through the bodies of multiple mutts over the course of eternity, with Gad as our perky spiritual ferry through repeated rounds of Rover reincarnation. As if to compensate, Gail Mancuso ‘s blandly agreeable sequel to the boy-focused 2017 hit “A Dog’s Purpose” reorients its human narrative around a young woman’s troubled road to love and self-fulfilment — via the trusty companionship of various devoted pups.

That aside, fans of the first film will be delighted to find the formula pretty much untweaked, with a steady stream of corn-syrup sentiment binding what would otherwise amount to a feature-length montage of adorable doggy reaction GIFs. Like the first film — which grossed over $200 million worldwide despite early controversy over on-set animal treatment — “A Dog’s Journey” largely succeeds in spite of its own ickiest instincts. Even as its storytelling hovers on the border between capable and risible, the film knows exactly which dog-lover buttons to push, particularly those nearest the tear ducts. Replacing “Purpose” director Lasse Hallström (who retains an executive producer credit) to make a rather anonymous debut feature, Emmy-winning TV veteran Mancuso (“Modern Family,” “Roseanne”) offers less prettified styling and more sitcom-style beats. Commercially, it should bark up equivalent numbers to its predecessor.

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Once more drawn from a novel by W. Bruce Cameron — who has a hand in the screenplay, along with three other writers — the new film picks up more or less where the previous one left off, with Bailey, a regal St. Bernard-Australian Shepherd cross, living out his golden years on an idyllic Michigan farm with doting master Ethan ( Dennis Quaid ) and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). New to the family are Gloria (Betty Gilpin, fresh from her breakout in TV’s “Glow”), the (gasp) dog-agnostic widow of Hannah’s late son, and her infant daughter CJ, whose future upbringing is a bone of contention between Gloria and her oppressively wholesome in-laws. When Gloria finally leaves, whisking CJ off to Chicago, Bailey dies not long after: In the dog’s final moments, and certainly the film’s most unabashedly weepy scene, Ethan orders its wandering spirit to look after his granddaughter.

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While this franchise steers clear of any clear political affiliation, conservative family values predominate: Single motherhood, in particular, gets an unfortunate bad rap as Gloria, having turned her back on Ethan and Hannah’s heartland haven, swiftly turns into an abusive, daytime-drinking harpy. Good thing Bailey — now in the guise of eager beagle Molly — is on hand to help 11-year-old CJ through her adolescent years, complete with bad boyfriend trouble, burgeoning singer-songwriter ambitions and the steadfast support of best friend Trent (played as a child by Ian Chen, and later by K-pop heartthrob Henry Lau). (He loves dogs himself, just in case it weren’t entirely clear that he’s The One.)

After finishing school and falling out with her mom, it’s off to New York City for CJ, now played by appealing Brit actress Kathryn Prescott, of “Skins” fame. There, a different Bailey carrier — feisty Yorkshire terrier Max — sees her through assorted personal crises, all while nudging proceedings toward their plain-as-day, home-sweet-home conclusion. Along the way, the rather cluttered script goes through some high-stakes narrative pivots that subsequently leave almost no mark at all: A sudden, momentary shift into stalker-thriller territory is jarring, while the brisk introduction and resolution of a whole cancer subplot in ten minutes flat must be some kind of industry record.

Still, these are the few adult-oriented elements of Cameron’s novel that have survived the stringently PG-minded adaptation; darker, more intriguing themes of suicide and eating disorders have been shed like a dog’s winter coat. After all, it’d be hard to write pooch-perspective wisecracks about such matters, and harder still for Gad to deliver them in his constant, mollifying tone of aw-shucks optimism. Cameron’s books may not have been for children, but their film versions know on which side their doggy biscuits are buttered. That’s probably for the best, given the overall glibness of the human drama here, though Gilpin deserves credit for trying to carve some emotional complexities into her lightly drawn villain.

Otherwise, the bounding canine ensemble takes the prize for, well, best in show: The endless quips about bacon and butt-sniffing may wear thin, but it’s hard to take no joy in a film that treats a jowly boerboel chasing after a receding car much like a melodrama heroine left yearning on a train platform, as Mark Isham’s thick, stringtastic score slobbers away in the background. One wishes the film were a bit more inventive with its dog’s-eye view: the odd ground-level action shot aside, there isn’t much to cinematically suggest how animals see the world differently. (Surely a sequence that places one of Bailey’s incarnations in a recovery cone is crying out for a POV-based visual gag.) Mostly, however, “A Dog’s Journey” is content simply to point out how our furry friends are so like us — or, at the very least, a lot like Josh Gad.

Reviewed at Cineworld Wood Green, London, May 4, 2019. Running time: 108 MIN.

  • Production: A Universal Pictures release of an Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment presentation of a Pariah production in an association with Alibaba Pictures Group, Walden Media. Producer: Gavin Polone. Executive producers: Seth William Meier, Lasse Hallström, Luyuan Fan, Wei Zhang. Co-producers: Holly Bario, Ian Dimerman.
  • Crew: Director: Gail Mancuso. Screenplay: W. Bruce Cameron, Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon, Wallace Wolodarsky, adapted from the novel by Cameron. Camera (color, widescreen): Rogier Stoffers. Editor: Robert Komatsu. Music: Mark Isham.
  • With: Josh Gad (voice), Kathryn Prescott, Betty Gilpin, Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger , Abby Ryder Fortson, Henry Lau, Ian Chen, Conrad Coates, Jake Manley, Daniela Barbosa, Kevin Claydon.

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A Dog’s Journey Review: Live, Die, Repeat… Like a Boss

A Dog's Journey Film Review

There isn’t much to say about any of the adaptations of W. Bruce Cameron’s series of books about the trials and tribulations that canines have on the human spirit. You know what you are going to get when walking into your local Cineplex when you watch the thing; you are going to be manipulated with a heavy hand that will be spread thicker than Jiffy. Though, when it comes to movies about dogs (and those glorious 90 seconds in Mulholland Drive ), I’m only a man, and a weak one at that. By the time A Dog’s Journey ‘s credits began to roll, I had already overdosed on cuteness.

A Dog’s Journey is a sequel to the surprise mild hit, 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose , with Dennis Quaid reprising his role as Ethan Montgomery. Josh Gad is back and plays his Boss-Dog, which is the voice of Bailey (and the subsequent reincarnations), an older St. Bernard who loves his owner and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). Bailey now looks over their grandchild, CJ, like his little sister, a new addition to their clan. CJ’s mother, Gloria ( GLOW’s Betty Gilpin), the widow of Ethan and Hannah’s son, is struggling with life without him and doesn’t seem to appreciate that her in-laws have taken them in with open arms because that’s what family does.

The film was directed by Gail Mancuso ( Gilmore Girls, 30 Rock, Modern Family ), a notable Emmy-winning television director. Her film is the best in the series, including A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Way Home . That doesn’t mean the movie is setting the family film genre on fire; it doesn’t. Especially when you combine the shameless manipulation that’s more saccharine than Splenda, this film will be trampled on by the snobby mob social media mentality types (cough, Film Twitter, cough) that is spread like a disease. This film isn’t meant for them; it is intended for family audiences, parents to get their kids out of the heat with no pool insight and/or to relax then forget about the world for an hour or two. In short, not all entertainment has to be an art form.

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The cuteness overload continues the same formula as the original; different reincarnations bring us several adorable dog breeds. Besides Beethoven’s love child Baily, you get a cute female Beagle named Molly, a slobbery Mastiff who is a   big ball of joy named Big Dog. Then there’s Max, an aggressive, ankle-biting Yorkshire Terrier who might have been Chris Harrison in another life. This all is a gluttony buffet of canine proportions.

The ace up its sleeve is Dennis Quaid, a self-assured star who can be put in most any supporting role. Josh Gad might not exhibit Bryce Dallas Howard’s childlike wonderment in Purpose , but his impeccable comic timing does serve the film well here. Kathryn Prescott does a fine job carrying the back end of the film as the adult CJ. While I usually love Betty Gilpin, I found her performance as an alcohol-soaked washout over the top here. However, Henry Lau wins the booby prize here as CJ’s best friend and potential love interest.

When it is all said and done , A Dog’s Journey ‘s “Live Die Repeat” narrative structure is just like the original but told with an approach that is not as ham-fisted as other chapters in the series. The film, if anything, is a pleasant way to spend 90 minutes with the family or yourself, but is only worth rental prices or if you can sneak in all your refreshments and a bag of your popcorn.

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Article by Marc Miller

Marc Miller (also known as M.N. Miller) joined Ready Steady Cut in April 2018 as a Film and TV Critic, publishing over 1,600 articles on the website. Since a young age, Marc dreamed of becoming a legitimate critic and having that famous “Rotten Tomato” approved status – in 2023, he achieved that status.

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Review: ‘A Dog’s Journey’ goes deeper than its pedigree to offer unconditional love

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Engaging critically with Dog Movies can be a challenge for a critic. Who wants to be the crank who scoffs that the heartwarming animal movie is just too contrived and sentimental? But it can be hard to avoid, with the sickly sweet, pandering pabulum of “A Dog’s Purpose” and “A Dog’s Way Home.” Fortunately, “A Dog’s Journey,” the third in a trio of films adapted from W. Bruce Cameron’s novels, offers up an interesting, complex story into which we can sink our teeth. Directed by Emmy-winner Gail Mancuso (“Modern Family”), written by “Purpose” vets Cameron, Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon and Wallace Wolodarsky, “A Dog’s Journey” has the emotional bite to match its somewhat hokey bark.

Both “A Dog’s Purpose” and “A Dog’s Journey” are metaphysical films that purport that the same dog spirit has been reincarnated again and again into different canine forms over its owner’s lifetime, always trying to make it back home. It’s a rather fantastically philosophical idea for a film that traffics in nostalgic heartland family values cheerleading. But it’s a fantasy dog lovers want to believe. Just look at Barbra Streisand, who has cloned her beloved dog — wouldn’t it be nice to think all dogs don’t actually go to heaven but get reincarnated into our next furry friends?

Bailey, the Saint Bernard from “A Dog’s Purpose,” reappears as a kindly older dog in “Journey,” the beloved pet of Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). Bailey bonds with Ethan and Hannah’s toddler granddaughter, CJ (Emma Volk), while their daughter-in-law Gloria (Betty Gilpin) grieves the death of CJ’s father in a car wreck. A selfish and vain woman, she impulsively leaves the family farm with her daughter, denying the grandparents any chance of seeing her again while tossing off vague accusations about CJ’s father’s life insurance policy.

Losing a beloved dog is a part of pet ownership, and as Ethan says goodbye to his friend Bailey for the final time, he implores the dog to find and protect CJ in his next lives, because she’ll need it. CJ grows up a sad, lonely girl (Abby Ryder Fortson and, later, Kathryn Prescott), but Bailey finds her again and again, as a beagle named Molly, a mastiff named Big Dog and, finally, a Yorkie named Max, who has the greatest influence on CJ’s life, and helps her to believe in the magic of the animal’s spirit.

It’s about halfway through the film when one realizes how much deeper Mancuso and team are going with this dog’s journey. This isn’t all romps in the tall grass and stories of puppy heroism or feats of strength — it’s about family trauma, death, domestic abuse, neglectful parenting, addiction and life-threatening illness. It’s about how dogs can fill the hole in your heart that a person might leave.

The whole schtick of these movies is the treat-motivated, not-quite-getting-it doggie voice-over, performed by Josh Gad , and it lightens the film. But going dark and emotional makes the film work better than the prior two. Because even among all the coincidences and twists of fate Molly and Max enact, what hits home the most is that dogs can offer people unconditional love when they need it most, and that has always been a dog’s purpose.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

-------------

‘A Dog’s Journey’

Rated: PG for thematic content, some peril and rude humor

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Playing: Starts May 17 in general release

------------

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@LATimesMovies

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‘A Dog’s Journey’ review: Fantastical tale comes with emotional bite

Movie review.

Engaging critically with Dog Movies can be a challenge. Who wants to be the crank who scoffs that the heartwarming animal movie is just too contrived and sentimental? But it can be hard to avoid, with the sickly sweet pabulum of recent films such as “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Fortunately, “A Dog’s Journey,” the third in a trilogy of novels from W. Bruce Cameron, offers up an interesting, complex story into which we can sink our teeth. Directed by Emmy-winning TV director Gail Mancuso and written by “Purpose” vets Cameron, Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon and Wallace Wolodarsky, “A Dog’s Journey” has the emotional bite to match its somewhat hokey bark.

Both “A Dog’s Purpose” and “A Dog’s Journey” are metaphysical and philosophical films that purport the theory that the same dog spirit has been reincarnated again and again into different canine forms over its owner’s lifetime, always trying to make it back home.

Bailey, the St. Bernard from “A Dog’s Purpose,” reappears as a kindly older dog in “Journey,” the beloved pet of Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). Bailey bonds with the couple’s toddler granddaughter, CJ (Emma Volk), while their daughter-in-law (Betty Gilpin) grieves the death of CJ’s father in a car wreck. A selfish and vain woman, she impulsively leaves the family farm with her daughter, denying the grandparents any chance of seeing her again.

Losing a beloved dog is a part of pet ownership, and as Ethan says goodbye to his friend Bailey for the final time, he implores the dog to find and protect CJ in his next lives, because she’ll need it.

CJ grows up a lonely, sad girl (Abby Ryder Fortson and Kathryn Prescott), but Bailey finds her again and again, as a beagle named Molly, a mastiff named Big Dog and finally, a Yorkie named Max, who has the greatest influence on CJ’s life, and helps her to believe in the magic of the animal’s spirit.

It’s about halfway through the film when one realizes how much deeper Mancuso and team are going with this dog’s journey. This isn’t all romps in the tall grass and stories of puppy heroism or feats of strength — it’s about family trauma, death, domestic abuse, neglectful parenting, addiction and life-threatening illness. It’s about how dogs can fill the hole in your heart that a person might leave.

The whole shtick of these movies is the treat-motivated, not-quite-getting-it doggy voice-over, performed by Josh Gad, and it lightens the film. But going dark and emotional makes the film work better than the prior two.

★★½  “A Dog’s Journey,” with Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Abby Ryder Fortson, Kathryn Prescott, Henry Lau, Betty Gilpin, the voice of Josh Gad. Directed by Gail Mancuso, from a screenplay by W. Bruce Cameron, Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon and Wallace Wolodarsky, based on a novel by Cameron. 108 minutes. Rated PG for thematic content, some peril and rude humor. Opens May 17 at multiple theaters.

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Geek Culture | Movies, TV, Comic Books & Video Games

Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey (2019)

May 15, 2019 by Robert Kojder

A Dog’s Journey , 2019.

Directed by Gail Mancuso. Starring Dennis Quaid, Betty Gilpin, Josh Gad, Abby Ryder Fortson, Marg Helgenberger, Kathryn Prescott, Ian Chen, Daniela Barbosa, Jake Manley, and Henry Lau.

A dog finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he meets.

Two things become clear while watching A Dog’s Journey (to be fair, both revelations can be had during the film’s predecessor as well, A Dog’s Purpose ); for how spirited and playful and joyful Josh Gad is doing the voiceover work for the reincarnated canine soul, the films would most likely function better emotionally without such an overbearing presence in favor of a degree of subtlety. The second is that the book source material from W. Bruce Cameron is much more adult-oriented, meaning that these family-friendly adaptations are stripping down the heart of the stories in order for Hollywood to manufacture something palatable for all audiences. It doesn’t work, as in both movies there’s always heavier and sometimes dark events around the corner, more so this time around, but they’re not given the freedom they need to land at any weight.

Gail Mancuso is now in the director’s chair taking over for Lasse Hallstrom (using a script from numerous names including W. Bruce Cameron himself once again) which, in theory, is a wise decision considering A Dog’s Journey centers on a young woman, but the story doesn’t try to get in her head or examine her abusive upbringing in any meaningful way. Instead, she chooses to date some terribly controlling men while somehow not catching the signal that her childhood best friend is really into her. When your dog is criticizing your dating life, you’ve got problems.

Keeping bad guys at bay is part of Bailey’s purpose, tasked with protecting young Calamity Jane, or CJ for short, by Dennis Quaid’s now grandfather Ethan (returning to the series where he left off, older and frail) as she needs his companionship and spiritual guidance more than him. Unfortunately, his daughter Gloria (Betty Gilpin) is in a confused state of emotions regarding the tragic death of her husband, which sort of causes a downward spiral leading her to abandon her parents assuming that they are against her when all they really want her to do is tone down the drinking and take responsibility as a parent. Meanwhile, Bailey himself is on death’s door, so it’s clear that once he is reborn into the body of another dog, finding and caring for CJ in Chicago will become his lifelong fulfilling quest.

is a much different experience from the first entry right down to its structure. Rather than having the dog search multiple lifetimes to meet up with his destined owner, he is reborn as Molly and is coincidently adopted by CJ as a child (without her drunken mother’s permission, of course). It’s actually jarring and instantly makes one wonder if the film is going to go for a twist where the dog cares for the wrong person, at least until you start hearing the aligning names of the characters.

Regardless, this childhood portion (in which CJ is played by Ant-Man ‘s Abby Ryder Fortson) is easily the strongest section from an emotional standpoint, most notably in a sequence where her mother is out all night drinking with one of her many awful boyfriends over the years, leaving the 11-year-old child at home crying during a scary thunderstorm, which slowly becomes less terrifying with the canine by her side. Soon after, there is a scene of her playing guitar next to the dog, and it’s the closest these movies have ever come to contained affecting drama that does not need manipulation to bring out the feels. It’s fair to even go as far as saying the seriousness of the story works here despite the PG rating.

Through no fault of Kathryn Prescott, the larger portion showing CJ as a teenager up to her young adult years simply doesn’t work, mainly because the writing becomes so episodic and fast-moving that it’s hard to care about anything, whether it’s stalker boyfriends causing car accidents or important characters learning they have cancer. To give you an idea of how crippling some of this really is, the cancer subplot is resolved in 10 minutes, complete with the character’s hair grown back in what seems like a week following winning the battle. The movie is more interested in going through the motions as family-friendly as it can rather than functioning as something of substance.

Kids will laugh at the broad doggie humor, adults will most likely find themselves crying during the closing heartstring-tugging moments (it goes for that so hard, that you kind of have no choice but to surrender some kind of sadness), everyone will be united thinking that CJ needs to stop messing around with every dopey guy on the block (it’s truly perplexing that she seems to only go for guys that either want to stifle her musical ambitions or mistreat her) and get with her best friend Trent (Korean pop star Henry Lau as the lovable nice guy that also enjoys the company of dogs), and Hollywood will approve another installment in this series. Although if I had to choose between the two so far, at least A Dog’s Journey might prove to be empowering to young girls in various ways. Either way, these books probably deserve better.

Flickering Myth Rating  – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check  here  for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my  Twitter  or  Letterboxd , check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated  Patreon , or email me at [email protected]

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a dog's journey movie review

A Dog’s Journey – Movie Review

a dogs journey still

Why should you see this movie?

A Dog’s Journey is a sweet, family-friendly (*see next section*) movie that follows Bailey’s adventures from the first movie. This film is perfect for ALL pet owners, not just dog families. We are cat people. Almost one year ago, we said goodbye to our orange tabby cat of 20 years.  A few years prior to that, we said goodbye to our very  first cat (who was 21, and also an orange tabby). Next month will mark one year since we adopted two rescue kitties that I swear are the reincarnation of my two orange tabbies. Talk about pulling on some heartstrings. But just the thought of seeing a movie where pets continue to find their way back to their “people” was endearing, especially if you have recently lost a furry loved one.

Is this movie safe for all ages?

A Dog’s Journey is rated PG, for thematic content, some peril and rude humor. While the majority of the movie is cute and full of fun canine antics, there are a few scenes you may not want your little one to see. Besides the fact that Bailey will transcend a few lives, you might have to answer questions regarding reincarnation, alcoholism and abuse.

My overall take?

A Dog’s Journey is a sweet, sappy, feel-good movie. It is definitely a movie you should see, if you are an animal lover. I don’t feel it is a movie I would watch over and over again, but it is a great family movie if you have older children and need a break from the “6 & under movie genre.”

About the movie:

Some friendships transcend lifetimes. In A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to the heartwarming global hit A Dog’s Purpose, beloved dog Bailey finds his new destiny and forms an unbreakable bond that will lead him, and the people he loves, to places they never imagined.

Bailey (voiced again by Josh Gad) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his “boy,” Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). 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 take CJ away. 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 filled with love, friendship and devotion as he, CJ (Kathryn Prescott), and CJ’s best friend Trent (Henry Lau) experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter, and few really good belly rubs.

Directed by Emmy winner Gail Mancuso (TV’s Modern Family), A Dog’s Journey is produced by Gavin Polone (A Dog’s Purpose), and written by W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon, and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky, based on the best-selling novel by Cameron. The film, from Amblin Entertainment and Reliance Entertainment, in association with Walden Media and Alibaba Pictures, will be distributed by Universal Pictures domestically, and by Universal Pictures and Amblin Partners internationally.

Maria H. (ndm#130)

A Disney blooded, crafty, fun-lovin’ wife/mom/organizer/planner, etc who is obsessed with all things Disney 🙂 Maria grew up with the Magic Kingdom and has loved watching WDW evolve into what it is today. A firm believer in the Power of Pixie Dust, she is the owner of The Disney Driven Life – A Community for Neurotic Disney People & a d.i.y. crafty blog, Carousel of Projects – create~inspire~share.

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a dog's journey movie review

A Dog’s Journey Review (2019) – Guest Review

a dog's journey movie review

A Dog’s Journey is pretty much the same film as A Dog’s Purpose , inserting a cute but arguably annoying dog in an overly melodramatic and cheesy film.

When all else fails, use a talking animal. Animals are cute, especially dogs. People like dogs and most develop strong emotional connections to them which is why films featuring dogs have been so successful. Think about it. Why not exploit that easy emotional connection in a film? That’s exactly what 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose  and this year’s A Dog’s Way Home both did with moderate success and now  A Dog’s Journey , another film based on the book series by W. Bruce Cameron and sequel to A Dog’s Purpose , hopes to do the same. For the most part,  A Dog’s Journey  is the same film as  A Dog’s Purpose  so if you’ve seen one, you’ve more than likely seen the other.

The major selling point of ADP was how a dog named Bailey (Josh Gad) would come back to life over and over again in order to get back to a boy, now man, named Ethan (Dennis Quaid). This time, Bailey was tasked to take care of Ethan’s granddaughter CJ who started off as a toddler and followed her as different dogs to adulthood (Kathryn Prescott). Ethan and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) were still around, eventually growing old (with terrible aging makeup and prosthetics) but this film was more about Bailey and CJ. The main difference between this film and ADP was the distance between Bailey and CJ as they always just happened to find each other throughout CJ’s life. The predictable and contrived plot always seemed to find a way to touch plenty of cliches on the way to becoming unbearably melodramatic and manufactured to the point of not caring.

The characters in  A Dog’s Journey never felt like actual characters and felt more like a means to perpetuate the film’s overuse of melodrama. Of course some viewers will connect to it more than others but all the laughably derivative story beats (Betty Gilpin as CJ’s cliche negligent mother Gloria was the highlight) here have been done in countless films countless times before so suffice it to say that none of it should come as much of a surprise. The character of Bailey never seemed to fit within the story to the point that he was in a different film altogether. Bailey was pretty much the same character as ADP, however, he did not work nearly as well this time around. Most viewers watch these films because of the canine at the center though all he did here was undercut the melodrama in a very distracting way thanks to some cheesy dialog.

Despite everything else, the acting was okay here though it would be weighed down by the mediocre material that made it difficult to care about the characters. Gad was annoying as Bailey though this was mostly due to the material and the direction. Prescott was okay as adult CJ but she wasn’t given much of a chance either as the film never asked her to go particularly deep though she would stumble whenever the film leaned in that direction (shout-out to Abby Ryder Fortson for being cute as young CJ) . The okay-ness continued with Lau as CJ’s adult childhood friend Trent who was even less of a character than CJ was. Quaid as Ethan was probably the best, however, he was barely in the film.

Hopefully, this dog’s journey is over.

2.0 Out of 5 (Skip It)

For more, please visit keithlovesmovies.com and don’t forget to follow us on  Twitter  or  Instagram  or like us on  Facebook .

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‘second chance’ review: graceful drama traces an indian woman’s post-trauma journey.

A young woman recovers from an abortion by escaping to a remote Himalayan village in Subhadra Mahajan's Karlovy Vary-premiering debut feature.

By Frank Scheck

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Second Chance

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With the caretaker of the house called away on unexplained business, Nia is left to spend time with his elderly mother-in-law Bhemi (Thakri Devi) and her rambunctious eight-year-old grandson Sunny (Kanav Thakur), who spends much of his time playing Superman. Nia, meanwhile, like any urbanite, wanders around the property desperately searching for a cell phone signal.

Although restless at first, Nia soon settles into her new environment, enjoying Bhemi’s homemade dumplings, participating in batting practice with Sunny, and bonding with a kitten put in her care after it annoyed Bhemi one too many times. She has a reunion with an old boyfriend whom she hasn’t seen in ten years, who picks her up and brings her home to meet his wife. She goes to a party with young locals and enjoys some recreational drugs. And she blissfully practices dance moves alone amid the landscape’s natural beauty.

Bhemi, who spends her days working tirelessly, also has a tragic history, as made clear in a scene in which she tells Nia about a heart-wrenching episode involving Sunny’s late mother. And she’s quick to take action, insisting on calling a doctor after Nia starts bleeding profusely as a result of complications from the abortion pills. Later, she calms her by assuring her that the doctor knows how to keep a secret.

Effortlessly blending gentle humor with poignant drama, Second Chance makes us fully identify with its central character as she manages to regain her emotional equilibrium as a result of her interactions with what becomes a new family. We find ourself as surprised by the unexpected development as she is, but between the gorgeous setting and the loveable characters it makes perfect sense.

The thoroughly endearing performances by child actor Thakur and the mature Devi, neither of whom had ever acted before, are a key element, as is Johnson’s affecting turn as Nia. Although, to be sure, none of their work compares to that of the feline Yuki, who completely steals the film.

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'Red Rooms' Review: Pascal Plante Makes Your Skin Crawl With Disturbingly Clever Psychological Horror | KVIFF 2023

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10 Movies That Become Horror Halfway Through

The 10 best horror movies where everyone dies, ranked, 'rumours' review: cate blanchett gets her angela merkel on i kviff 2024.

While we can dismiss ghosts, ghouls, and other fantastic creatures as figments of our imaginations, it is harder to let go of the uncomfortable feeling that the biggest monsters out there are people. Pascal Plante ’s latest movie, Red Rooms ( Les Chambres Rouges ), is a brilliant investigation of the morbid curiosity that we all might feel from time to time and how it can become a dangerous obsession for certain individuals. Dangerous for themselves when their behavior puts them at risk, and dangerous for others when this obsession transmutes into violent behavior. However, while Red Rooms has much to say about the strangest things that capture human attention, the movie is, above all else, one of the most disturbing psychological horror stories in cinema.

Red Rooms revolves around the trial of Ludovic Chevalier ( Maxwell McCabe-Lokos ). Ludovic is accused of being the Demon of Rosemont, a brutal serial killer who kidnapped, tortured, sexually abused, and killed three underaged girls, filming the affair in disturbing live-show spectacles. His alleged crimes are stomach-turning, which, of course, means the trial itself occupies a central place in the media. However, as much as Ludovic’s trial kicks off the story of Red Rooms , the movie is mostly interested in Kelly-Anne ( Juliette Gariépy ), a young woman who attends every public session of the proceedings.

Kelly-Anne is a loner who makes a fortune between modeling and playing online poker, money she uses to turn her apartment into a digital fortress from where she can safely navigate the darkest corners of the web. Since Ludovic’s supposed crimes were streamed through fabled red rooms in the dark web, where rich people pay to watch the innocent suffer and die, Kelly-Anne has developed a particular interest in the case.

RELATED: The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Announces Lineup 2023: Russell Crowe to Receive Award

'Red Room' Explores the Horrors of the Internet

While Kelly-Anne is not related to the Demon of Rosemont’s murders in any way, she still does everything she can to remain close to Ludovic’s trial. At first, Red Rooms questions if she has some twisted attraction for the killer, but at every turn of the story, we are left puzzled, wondering why Kelly-Anne is exposing herself to public scrutiny just to stay close to the case. There’s something erratic and mysterious in her behavior, and Red Room leaves the audience guessing her intentions until the credits roll. Thanks to Gariépy’s magnetic performance, we keep getting pulled towards her as she descends deeper into the dark pits of the internet.

By overlapping scenes of the trial with Kelly-Anne’s online investigation, Red Rooms also explores how vulnerable we all are in the online era. She easily finds personal information about the victims’ families, and with only search tools at her disposal, uncovers information that is being locked away from prying eyes by the police. Kelly-Anne’s technological knack also makes it easier for her to surf the dark web and find more details about the Demon of Rosemont’s crimes. It all contributes to the atmosphere of paranoia the movie summons as we witness how unprotected we all are due to our overuse of digital tools. And since Red Rooms also explores the absolute horrors that can take place in virtual worlds, we can’t help but feel threatened by an unknown danger. On that note, it’s important to underline how relentless the film can be, guiding its audience on a journey of absolute despair.

The idea of people paying good money to watch or inflict suffering on others is nothing new. From films such as Hostel to recent hits like Escape Room , horror has a long tradition of fantasizing about the wealthy class as sadistic people – which is a fair assumption. These movies, however, lean over ultraviolence and explicit acts of torture, which paradoxically can minimize each scene's emotional impact. As realistic a death can appear on the screen, we know a movie is only make-believe, and there’s always a subconscious part of our brain working to separate fiction from reality.

The Relentless Atmosphere of 'Red Rooms' Will Make You Shiver

On the other hand, Red Rooms only suggests its violence, teasing the dark endeavors that happen in hidden corners of our world. The movie takes its time to explain the horrific concept of red rooms to the audience, underlining how real snuff videos can be. As such, we are aware of the gruesome pain some victims endure to fulfill the macabre fantasies of others, even if we cannot see exactly what’s happening. However, since the human mind has the nasty habit of filling in blanks by itself, Red Rooms leaves enough space for our imagination to complete the bloody picture.

It doesn’t take much to destabilize a healthy human brain. The noise of the saw, the screams of a young girl, and the knowledge her death involved things such as genital mutilation is all we need to sink into a state of absolute despair. Red Rooms is well aware of the functioning of this, which is why each frame is shrouded in mystery, meticulously crafted to make you squirm. From the cinematography of Vincent Biron to the soundtrack of Dominique Plante , every detail of Red Rooms contributes to an atmosphere of absolute dread that stretches through the movie’s entire runtime.

Red Rooms leaves no breathing space, to the point where even minor things, such as someone turning their head, can become a new source of anxiety. It’s an incredible feat, especially when the movie doesn’t feature even one scene of murder. Instead, the courtroom descriptions, the vague photos presented as evidence, and the reaction of the characters when they are exposed to the terrifying videos at the center of the case are more than enough for it to shake us to our core. It’s rare to feel the tension built inside a theater to the point where everyone is holding their breath, but Red Room is a unique movie that defies expectations and keeps pulling the audience deeper into the dark abysm of human nature.

Red Rooms had its world premiere at 2023’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

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Taraji P. Henson  has big things in store for the 2024 BET Awards . Ahead of her third hosting stint at the annual show on Sunday, Henson told ET's Deidre Behar that she has a "cool AF" surprise for the opening.

"Oh, lord. It's just another part of my talent that you guys get to see," she told ET with a laugh. "You gonna see a lot of things. [It will be] another surprise for a lot of my fans that didn't know I could do this. I've done it before, but not on Culture's Biggest Night. I think more people will get to see this talent."

While she's yet to start formal rehearsals for the surprise, Henson, 53, said that she's working on it in "mirror moments at home, in my sleep, in my head, every waking moment, just so that it's in my body, so when I get on the stage, it's second nature."

That opening moment is just one that she's looking forward to in her return to the BET Awards.

"I think it's the live theater of it all. I was trained in theater, so I feel most comfortable on the stage," Henson said, before sharing that fans can expect an "uplifting" theme throughout the show.

"It's about empowerment, it's about togetherness, and that's not gonna change," she said of her personal brand. "We're going to have a good time."

Henson won't be the only star at Sunday's event as performances from  Ice Spice , Victoria Monét , Lauryn Hill , Will Smith and more are scheduled.

"I'm proud of him," Henson said of Smith, 55, who's debuting a new song at the ceremony. " You can't keep a good man down. "

Then there's Usher, who will be honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement BET Award.

"If he has not proven that he is at the top of his game and has remained at the top of his game for years and can pop out and prove it anytime he wants. I mean, what is there to discuss?" Henson said. "I have seen Usher everywhere. I've been to Vegas, I've been to Paris. Usher, if you have a show on the moon, I'm coming. I'm scared, but I may go for Usher."

"I was there at the Super Bowl. I haven't missed an Usher moment," she continued, referencing his Super Bowl LVIII halftime show performance . "I am so honored to be hosting on the night when he's gonna receive his flowers. I'm honored and just blessed to be a part of his life because he's been a part of my moments too for so many years."

There to see it all will be Henson's cousins, as well as her son, Marcell Johnson, and trainer Mike T. Of the last addition Henson quipped, "Why are you coming?" before discussing her fitness transformation.

"It's hard. It has been hard, but it's been something that me and my trainer have been working on for some time," she said. "I'm ready to transition my body and I want to see my body look like what I haven't ever seen it look like before. So we've been working really, really, really hard."

"I stripped the weight down, that extra fat. That's what you have to do in order to build, so we've been building," Henson added. "I'm sleepy a lot. He had me up this morning at 4. We started training at 5:30, but I had to wake up at 4 a.m. to be prepared at 5:30. He's been salivating since he heard the announcement about me hosting the BET Awards."

Henson will host the 2024 BET Awards on June 30.

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A Quiet Place: Day One stars Lupita Nyong'o and Frodo the cat as we journey back to where the horrors got started

A Quiet Place: Day One film still - samira

In the spirit of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, A Quiet Place has become one of those rare film series whose third instalment may well be its strongest.

The last two films were certainly no slouch. Helmed by John Krasinski in an unexpected flex of horror filmmaking chops, they depicted a world ravaged by extraterrestrial monsters with a serious sensitivity to sound.

Both movies remain a marvel of economy in transposing their simple gimmick into not just a variety of inventive set-pieces (infamously instilling audiences with a fear of upturned nails), but a keenly felt evocation of grief hanging over its family of survivors.

As its title suggests, A Quiet Place: Day One winds the clock back to the initial alien incursion in New York, revealing the city-wide devastation that previously hid just out of frame. The Kransinski-Blunt power couple are jettisoned in favour of Lupita Nyong'o's Sam, a terminal cancer patient whose days are already numbered; when she takes a day trip away from her hospice facility, she finds herself stranded at ground zero for the apocalypse.

A subway entrance with a Manhattan sign has STAY QUIET spray painted in red on it

The expanded scope of this prequel inevitably results in familiar iconography of ravaged skylines and cascading rubble, with wider shots depicting New York as a jungle gym for the series' athletic antagonists. At four times the budget of the first film, there's a pronounced sense of the series exceeding its no-nonsense minimalist roots, especially at a time when city-levelling spectacle feels eerily passé.

It's no small feat, then, that Day One remains firmly grounded in its emotional stakes. Sam offers a refreshing POV for the genre as a protagonist focused on ending life on her own terms, rather than forging a new future.

Having already proved her scream queen credentials with Jordan Peele's Us, Nyong'o unsurprisingly carries the film. She embodies a palpable exhaustion that convincingly translates into bitterness and belligerence. The near-absence of dialogue results in a showcase for Nyong'o's captivating facial expressions, without which the generically designed monsters would feel half as threatening.

As the remaining populace evacuates to the Hudson River – not unlike the visitors from Shyamalan's Signs, these aliens are surprisingly vulnerable to water – Sam makes a voyage to Harlem for one of the last slices her favourite pizza place will ever make, faithfully accompanied by her tuxedo cat Frodo and fellow straggler Eric (Stranger Things' Joseph Quinn).

A woman in a middle of a crowd, looking scared, clutching a cat

To put it lightly, the Quiet Place films have always required some suspension of belief. It is, of course, a questionable idea to haul a meowing machine around New York without being able to so much as crinkle a paper bag, just as it seemed needlessly dangerous for the Krasinskis to have a baby.

But these apparent leaps in logic feel genuinely purposeful, even meaningful. The unconventional focus on Sam's final days crystallises the point that these stories are not just about surviving the end of the world — they're about stubbornly holding onto the things that matter most. People making exclusively rational decisions does not make a compelling movie.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Frodo proves to be an extremely well-behaved boy; his eminent cuteness alone is worth the price of entry.

A man and a woman stand in the dark, in front of two escalators, a cat in a bag between them

Taking over from Krasinski, writer-director Michael Sarnoski (Pig) admirably repackages the material into a horror movie that's as soulful as it is scary.

There's an almost Pixar-esque whimsy to the kinship that blossoms between Sam and Eric – relayed through intimate whispers, glances and physical touch – as they mourn the remnants of their city and seek out a pizza slice at the end of the world with an adorable animal sidekick on hand.

Occasionally, the twee-to-terrifying ratio feels unbalanced, particularly when the careful sound design is drowned out by a generic, twinkling score. By the film's final third, there's a nagging feeling that its initial breathless intensity has flagged, devolving into a climax that trades sentimentality for scares with disappointing results.

Day One proves to be the quietest film yet, featuring long stretches of silence suffused with a pronounced, visceral intensity. Where silence once conveyed an inability to process personal loss, it now underscores the horror of bearing witness to colossal tragedy.

A man covers the mouth of a scared looking woman

An early sequence patiently tracks trembling civilians tending to injuries, sobs tightly wound in chests. Later, an evacuation order sees masses of survivors hobbling through the streets to safety, where the mounting sound of each footstep and breath threatens to spill over into disaster.

A heavy rainstorm provides momentary relief for Sam and Eric, who subsequently unleash the series' most cathartic screams; not since the first Twilight movie have the crackles of a thunderstorm been put to such memorable use.

The premise of this series is so fundamentally threadbare – most horror films implicitly treat sound as a death sentence – it's impressive that it's managed to expand beyond a single movie.

Sarnoski's prequel is inventive enough to suggest that, in the right pair of hands, this unlikely franchise may yet have some mileage.

A Quiet Place: Day One is in cinemas now.

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Joker: Folie à Deux

Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga in Joker: Folie à Deux (2024)

Sequel to the film "Joker" from 2019. Sequel to the film "Joker" from 2019. Sequel to the film "Joker" from 2019.

  • Todd Phillips
  • Scott Silver
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Zazie Beetz
  • Catherine Keener
  • 2 Critic reviews
  • 4 nominations

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  • Sophie Dumond

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Brendan Gleeson

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  • Trivia The film's working title is "Folie a Deux", which means "Madness of Two" in French. This initially led to speculation about Harley Quinn's appearance in the film, which was shortly thereafter confirmed. The name Folie a Deux comes from the 19th century French psychiatrist Charles Lasègue and Jules Falret, also known as Lasègue-Falret syndrome, and it depicts two or more people that they share the same madness or delirium.
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  • October 4, 2024 (United States)
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