Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Movie review by
Common Sense Media Editors, Common Sense Media
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Adventurous animal tale will have kids riveted.
  • G
  • 1993
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 24 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 36 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids will learn worthwhile lessons about sticking together in the face of adversity.

Positive Messages

Teaches the importance of family, teamwork, loyalty, courage, and perseverance. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The animals are brave and often resourceful; they care strongly about each other and their family and stick together even when things get hard.

Violence & Scariness

A fight, but no injuries are incurred. Family pets are lost, but eventually they find their way home.

Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is an uplifting, heartwarming adventure that has strong messages about family and perseverance, as well as a few tense/scary moments when the animals are in peril. While kids under 5 will enjoy the animals, they probably won't follow the story. And older tweens may find it too juvenile, despite the abundance of attitude and irreverent humor. But those in the 5-8 age bracket will fall in love with the characters and get the humor -- this film is aimed at them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3, 6, and 8-year-old Written byBeth R. March 16, 2019

Rough for kids who empathize strongly with animals

The cat in the water scene was quite scary for my 6 year old, especially because it doesn't resolve quickly. The dog getting quilled by a porcupine seemed... Continue reading
Parent of a 4, 4, and 4-year-old Written byJessica M. February 9, 2018

Okay for sensitive kids

My 5-year-old son is very sensitive, so it is difficult to find movies that are not too scary for him. He loves this movie. There are some intense scenes where... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bylexie needs a nap June 4, 2021


i think a lot of parents are overreacting. my parents let me watch this movie when i was 3 and i LOVED it (still do to this day). the ending always makes me emo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byrad vanpire fox... February 3, 2021

What's the story?

When their owners go on vacation at the start of HOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, golden retriever Shadow (voiced by Don Ameche), bulldog Chance (Michael J. Fox), and Himalayan cat Sassy (Sally Field), are left with a friend. After a few days, Chance becomes convinced that something's wrong and runs away; Sassy and Shadow follow. Determined to go home, they traverse the Sierras, ford rivers, and tangle with unfriendly bears. Shadow becomes a hero by finding a lost little girl and alerting her parents. Afterward, when the three pets are taken to a shelter to await their family, they again break out and continue their difficult journey. Exchanging wisecracks all the way, Chance, Shadow, and Sassy finally arrive home, where they're welcomed with open arms.

Is it any good?

Witty dialogue and well-cast voices make this movie a delight from start to finish. Fox and Ameche do a terrific job of giving voice to their canine characters; Ameche is particularly poignant as the older and much wiser Shadow. Field, hilarious as the snide and sharp-tongued Sassy, constantly berates Chance for his impetuous behavior and less-than-perfect manners. The animals themselves perform some riveting stunts.

As the threesome makes their way home, viewers of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey are carried along through a landscape full of peril and beauty. Although there are some scary moments -- like when Shadow and Chance confront a bobcat, or when the elderly Shadow falls into a deep ditch on the last leg of their journey -- the banter keeps things light. The well-written script contains plenty of kid-friendly humor, but even adult viewers will enjoy Sassy's stinging putdowns and Shadow's deep-voiced wisdom.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kids should do if they get separated from their parents, like the animals do in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

  • How did Shadow, Chance, and Sassy cope with their fear of being alone?

  • What is your favorite animal movie, and why? Why are animal movies so popular?

  • How do the characters in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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