A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.