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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
- In theaters: August 10, 1993
- On DVD or streaming: August 10, 1993
- Cast: Don Ameche, Michael J. Fox, Sally Field
- Director: Duwayne Dunham
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: December 3, 2020
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