A Dog's Journey (film)
|A Dog's Journey|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gail Mancuso|
|Produced by||Gavin Polone|
|Based on||A Dog's Journey|
by W. Bruce Cameron
|Edited by||Robert Komatsu|
|Box office||$71.7 million|
A Dog's Journey is a 2019 American comedy-drama film directed by Gail Mancuso and written by W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Maya Forbes, and Wally Wolodarsky. The film is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Cameron, and a sequel to the 2017 film A Dog's Purpose. The film stars Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott, and Henry Lau.
Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), an elderly St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix, lives happily with his owner Ethan (Quaid) and his wife Hannah (Helgenberger), and their 2-year-old granddaughter Clarity June “CJ” (Emma Volk) and her mother Gloria (Gilpin). Bailey, communicating with the audience via his thoughts, has a fondness for CJ. Gloria is shown to be an incompetent mother with a hatred for dogs, a distrust of her dead husband Henry's parents (Hannah and Ethan) and an ambition to have a singing career. Soon thereafter, Ethan discovers a big lump in Bailey's stomach, and a veterinarian's diagnosis is cancer. Gloria's suspicious nature leads her to move out with CJ. Eventually, Bailey's condition worsens and Ethan calls the veterinarian to the barn, where they prepare for euthanasia. Ethan holds Bailey lovingly and tells him to take care of CJ, before he is lethally injected. Bailey, now dead, is then seen running through a grassy field towards young CJ.
Nine years later, Bailey, who has been reincarnated as a female beaglier named Molly, is part of a litter of puppies who are adopted out until only Molly and her favorite brother Rocky are left. She sees a young boy named Trent (Ian Chen) and his family adopting Rocky. She also sees a young girl with him, who she recognizes is CJ, now 11 years old (Abby Ryder Forston). Molly, remembering the promise she made as Bailey to Ethan, runs outside to CJ. CJ, now living in a house with Gloria, takes Molly home with her and hides her from her mother. Gloria eventually sees Molly and gets angry at CJ for getting a dog behind her back, but CJ persuades her mother to let her keep the dog given how neglected she feels, with a reluctant glare, Gloria allows her to adopt Molly.
Over time, CJ and Molly grow increasingly close, along with Trent and Rocky. CJ, now a teenager (Prescott), reveals to Trent (Lau) that she wants to drop out of high school and move to New York with her father's insurance settlement to pursue a career in music. While CJ is busy, Hannah and Ethan visit Gloria's home with a box of Henry's old belongings, wanting to see CJ. However, Gloria, still angry over their discord, closes the door on them, but not before Molly takes a liking to Ethan, and he recognizes her as Bailey and reminds Molly of her request to protect CJ.
CJ begins to date Shane, a Mr. Sub employee whom Molly distrusts and tries to protect CJ from. Shane insists that they attend a party, which gets busted by police for underage drinking. Molly is separated from her and taken to a shelter. Trent retrieves Molly and reunites her with CJ. CJ is sentenced to community service at a facility that teaches dogs how to detect cancer and Molly teaches herself how to signal she has smelled the scent. Shane ambushes and assaults CJ, prompting her to dump him, and Molly to bite him on the leg. Gloria responds nonchalantly to this and reveals that she spent all of the money that CJ got from Henry, prompting CJ to angrily leave with Molly. While leaving town, CJ discovers Shane is stalking her, and while trying to avoid him, CJ forgets to watch the road, and she accidentally crashes into a dumpster, killing Molly. Afraid of getting arrested, Shane promptly flees the scene in a panic. Molly is then shown running through the same grassy field that Bailey was when he died.
Molly, reincarnated as a male English Mastiff named Big Dog, lives with his new owner, Joe, and is a guard dog at his gas station/convenience store. Although he enjoys his new life, he misses CJ. One day, CJ, now a young adult, visits the store, and Big Dog recognizes and engages with her. After she leaves, he lives the rest of his life missing her, and eventually dies of old age. He is then shown running through the grassy field again.
Molly, again reincarnated, this time as a Biewer Terrier named Max, is at an adoption event in New York City. To avoid being adopted by anyone until he can find CJ, he uses an aggressive, biting persona, until he sees CJ and chases her to her apartment building. CJ is reluctant to keep Max, but she learns that if Max isn't adopted by the next day, he will be put down. CJ is living with her boyfriend and working as a dog walker while aspiring to a musical career, but can't overcome her stage fright. She adopts Max, who befriends her boyfriend's dog.
While CJ is returning a dog to a client after a walk, Max smells a familiar scent. Leading CJ on a chase through the hallway, he ends up at the door of an apartment newly rented by Trent and his girlfriend (he also realizes that Rocky has since died). Max, sensing that CJ and Trent have feelings for each other, intentionally misbehaves, sabotaging CJ's relationship with her boyfriend, causing them to break up and her to move out of his apartment. After staying with various friends, Max pulls CJ toward Trent on the street, who offers his guest bedroom for her to stay in. Soon after, Max remembers learning how to diagnose cancer back during Molly's life, and signals CJ that he smells cancer on Trent. A doctor confirms the diagnosis and Trent begins chemotherapy. His shallow girlfriend leaves him, leaving CJ as his primary caretaker. Eventually, Trent's doctor informs him that he is cancer-free, and at Trent's urging, CJ accepts a meeting with Gloria after not having seen her in years. She has warmed up to dogs and gives CJ some of the contents that were in Henry's box which Hannah and Ethan brought to her house during Molly's life, which are revealed to be letters that Henry wrote to Gloria while she was pregnant with CJ. These notes inspire CJ to write more songs and perform them in front of an audience, finally kicking off her musical career.
Trent wants to repay CJ and Max for their help, so he takes them on a road trip to Hannah and Ethan's farm in Michigan, where they reunite for the first time since Gloria stormed out with CJ during Bailey's life. Ethan immediately recognizes Max as Bailey. CJ is skeptical until Max performs a unique trick with Ethan that only Bailey would know. Ethan tells CJ that he had asked the dying Bailey to look after her. CJ realizes that Bailey brought her and Trent together as adults and saved Trent's life, leading her to finally understand that Bailey, Molly, Big Dog, and Max are all the same dog.
CJ and Trent embrace their love for each other, and eventually marry and have their first child, a boy. Gloria reconciles with CJ, Hannah and Ethan. Ethan dies in bed, surrounded by family and with Max at his side. Max ages and dies as well, with CJ at his side. The movie ends with Bailey running through the grassy field and morphing backward through his previous incarnations, before crossing the Rainbow Bridge and joyfully reuniting with Ethan in Heaven. Bailey narrates that he got to love Ethan forever as a reward for being a good dog throughout all of his lives.
- Josh Gad as the voice of Bailey/Molly/Big Dog/Max, Ethan's dog.
- Dennis Quaid as Ethan Montgomery, Gloria's father-in-law, Hannah's husband, Bailey's owner and CJ's grandfather.
- Marg Helgenberger as Hannah Montgomery, Ethan's wife and CJ's grandmother. Helgenberger replaces Peggy Lipton from the first film.
- Betty Gilpin as Gloria Mitchell, Hannah's daughter-in-law and CJ's neglectful and emotionally abusive mother.
- Kathryn Prescott as Clarity June "CJ" Mitchell, Gloria's daughter, Trent's love interest and Ethan and Hannah's granddaughter.
- Abby Ryder Fortson as Young CJ
- Emma Volk as Toddler CJ
- Henry Lau as Trent, CJ's best friend and love interest.
- Ian Chen as Young Trent
- Jake Manley as Shane, a thuggish Mr. Sub employee who temporarily dates CJ, and later unknowingly and indirectly kills Molly.
- Johnny Galecki as Henry Montgomery, Hannah and Ethan's deceased son and Gloria's husband.
- Tyler Asher Xin-Qin as Saint, CJ and Trent's newborn infant son who appears at the end of the film.
- Beckett Richard Pin as 15-month-old Saint who learns to walk at the end of the film.
Principal photography began in August 2018.
Blu-ray Bonus Features Include:
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Gag Reel
- A DOG'S Sequel, New and returning cast members discuss their roles in A Dog's Journey and share their appreciation for director Gail Mancuso.
- Everyone's Best Friend.
- Sit down with the cast to hear about their life-long love of man's best friend.
- Working with Dogs - Cast and crew share the joys of working with animal-actors.
- A Healing Journey - Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid and others discuss the bond between dogs and humans.
- Scoring the JOURNEY - Director Gail Mancuso and composer Mark Isham discuss the music in the film.
- Feature Commentary with Director Gail Mancuso
A Dog's Journey grossed $22.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $49.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $71.7 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and The Sun Is Also a Star, and was projected to gross $10–14 million from 3,267 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to just $8 million, the lowest opening of any of W. Bruce Cameron's Dog films. In its second weekend the film made $4.1 million, finishing seventh, and then $1 million in its third.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 50% based on 80 reviews with an average rating of 5.17/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "A Dog's Journey is as sentimental as one might expect, but even cynical viewers may find their ability to resist shedding a tear stretched to the puppermost limit." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 43 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, the same as its predecessor, while those at PostTrak gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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