A Dog’s Journey

The voice of Olaf keeps dying and resurrecting in cliche-stricken sequel.

You all remember “A Dog’s Purpose” with Josh Gad’s voice being reincarnated into one dog after another, and leading back to his original owner Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and his wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger replacing Peggy Lipton).

Now, we have “A Dog’s Journey,” a well-meaning but formulaic sequel that keeps on dying and reincarnating, and then dying and reincarnating. Just be lucky you didn’t see Robin Williams do that in “Being Human.”

They all live on a farm with Hannah’s granddaughter CJ, whom Bailey is willing to protect. That is until Hannah’s neglectful would-be musician daughter-in-law Gloria (Betty Gilpin) takes CJ away from them.

As you might expect in this movie, Bailey gets ill, and has to be put down, but get reincarnated once again in another dog-a girl named Molly. His/her purpose is to find CJ (Abby Ryder Fortson from “Ant-Man”), and he/she does.

CJ hides Molly from her mother, who constantly leaves her home alone every night like every “perfect mother would.” Eventually when Gloria finds out about Molly, CJ stands up to her mother, criticizing her for being a bad mother. This segment is annoying, but it ends with the kind of balls that a kid should have against his/her parents. You don’t often get little kids who do that in movies and television shows.

In her teens, CJ (now played by Kathryn Prescott from MTV’s “Finding Carter”) gets sentenced to community service for underage drinking, leaves her mother for blowing off her inheritance, and gets into a car accident, after being pursued by her abusive ex-boyfriend. That costs Molly’s life in the process.

Well, you know the pattern: he’s gonna keep on transferring his soul in more dogs, reuniting with CJ on her journey of adulthood.

Josh Gad is funny and honest when his dialogue matches the true description of a dog, unlike Bryce Dallas Howard in “A Dog’s Way Home.” Each dog allows the actor to get into character without feeling so generic and annoying. He’s the star of the show.

But it’s difficult for me to care about this movie. The plot is routine and predictable, unlike “Happy Death Day 2U,” which took a lot of risks for a standard life and death sequel. There are abusive boyfriends, cancer plots, would-be musician dreams, and kid jokes that get exhausting.

I liked Fortson and Prescott as the different age versions of CJ, and how they’re respectively smart women, regarding the alcoholic mother and boyfriend dramas. And she even has Henry Lau as her childhood friend-turned-dream guy to keeps things in peace. But they have to be sunk in a nothing special script. We know how it turns out.

Thanks to Gad, “A Dog’s Journey,” once more, wants to be “Homeward Bound,” but I chose him over the human characters.

⭐️⭐️1/2

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