A Dog's Journey

A Dog's Journey

2019, PG, 108 min. Directed by Gail Mancuso. Voice by Josh Gad. Starring Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott, Henry Lau.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., May 17, 2019

British science-fiction pioneer Michael Moorcock's greatest, most morally complicated creation was the eternal champion, a hero whose fate and curse across lives and dimensions was to give balance between the destruction of chaos and the stagnation of order. So it is with Bailey, the canine protagonist of W. Bruce Cameron's A Dog's ... novels, except he keeps being reincarnated to be a pleasant playmate and guardian of nice middle-class, Midwestern families, not stride across the howling wastelands with a sword that consumes souls and prophesies the end times.

Yes, here comes Bailey (Gad), the eponymous dog of 2017's A Dog's Purpose, about an adorable hound-spirit who keeps dying and being reincarnated in a different fuzzy body, but always with the same aim: to be the best pal to gosh-shucks farmer Ethan (Quaid). At the end of the last film, after a few incarnations apart, Bailey went to visit the farm – no, not like that – and brought Ethan back together with his childhood sweetheart, Hannah.

So what was left, after a boy and his dog were reunited? Well, a lot has happened on the farm since Bailey found his purpose. Mainly that Hannah (played originally by the late Peggy Lipton, now recast as Helgenberger) had a previously unseen grown son who, between films, died offscreen, and now his widow Gloria (GLOW's Gilpin, gloriously brittle as a drunken lounge singer) is raising their daughter, who was born a month after her daddy died.

If this seems like a huge amount of exposition just to set up A Dog's Journey, that's because the script depends on massive drama in the background, and then Bailey the Great Pyrenees – or, in later incarnations, a beagle, a bullmastiff, and a yappy terrier mix – to provide some commentary. Only he doesn't really understand what's happening, because he's a dog. The end result is rather like having the Greek chorus stand in front of the play, which is just one of the many off-kilter decisions that can only make A Dog's Journey succeed in spite of itself. Not least that, after spending multiple lives trying to get back to Ethan, now Bailey is assigned to look after CJ, who he finds through a series of unlikely encounters and escapades. After all, that is what these films do: stretch the credulity of animal fantasy far beyond snapping point.

All grown up, CJ (Prescott, a remarkable work of casting in finding an actress with an undeniable familial similarity to Gilpin, plus an equal to her excellent tragi-comic timing) has Bailey, in whatever fur suit, with her through thick and thin, terrible boyfriends, the constant support of her other best friend, Trent (Lau), car crashes, cancer, and her attempts to get a music career off the ground in New York coffee shops. Fans of the first movie will probably be a little baffled by the fact that the timeline has slipped back around 20 years, so that teen CJ isn't living in the future, but then fans of the novel will probably be annoyed that the script – adapted in part by Cameron himself – drops some of the more thematically courageous subplots, like presenting assisted suicide as an equal mercy to euthanizing a sick dog.

Yet A Dog's Journey is still prepared to get extraordinarily dark, especially for a movie with lots of adorable doggos, and Gad reciting a poop-and-butt-sniffing commentary aimed clearly at kids and undemanding tweens. It's less egregiously tonally divided than A Dog's Purpose, but still the same weird mix of tearjerking dog death, soapy drama, and kid-friendly comedy. The end result is like watching a season finale of This Is Us with a commentary track by Elmo. The dogs sure are cute, though.

Showtimes

Wed., May 22

1:00, 3:50, 6:50, 9:40

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Wed., May 22

11:50am, 2:55, 5:55, 8:50

Fri., May 24

12:15, 3:15, 6:10, 9:15

Sat., May 25

10:15am, 1:10, 4:00, 6:50, 9:40

Sun., May 26

10:15am, 1:10, 4:00, 6:50, 9:55

Mon., May 27

10:15am, 1:10, 4:00, 6:50, 9:55

Tue., May 28

10:15am, 1:10, 4:00, 6:50, 9:55

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Wed., May 22

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:10

Thu., May 23

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:10

Fri., May 24

CC/DVS 10:50am, 1:30, 4:10, 6:50, 9:30

Sat., May 25

CC/DVS 10:50am, 1:30, 4:10, 6:50, 9:30

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS 10:50am, 1:30, 4:10, 6:50, 9:30

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS 10:50am, 1:30, 4:10, 6:50, 9:30

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS 10:50am, 1:30, 4:10, 6:50, 9:30

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Wed., May 22

digital 1:20, 4:10, 7:00, 9:50

Fri., May 24

digital 10:05am, 12:45, 3:40, 6:30, 9:20

Sat., May 25

digital 10:05am, 12:45, 3:40, 6:30, 9:20

Sun., May 26

digital 10:05am, 12:45, 3:40, 6:30, 9:20

Mon., May 27

digital 10:05am, 12:45, 3:40, 6:30, 9:20

Tue., May 28

digital 10:05am, 12:45, 3:40, 6:30, 9:20

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Wed., May 22

digital 10:30am, 1:30, 4:10, 6:50, 9:30

Fri., May 24

digital 10:20am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:40, 9:25

Sat., May 25

digital 10:20am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:40, 9:25

Sun., May 26

digital 10:20am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:40, 9:25

Mon., May 27

digital 10:20am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:40, 9:25

Tue., May 28

digital 10:20am, 1:05, 3:55, 6:40, 9:25

Wed., May 22

digital 10:25am, 1:15, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Fri., May 24

digital 10:25am, 1:15, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Sat., May 25

digital 10:25am, 1:15, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Sun., May 26

digital 10:25am, 1:15, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Mon., May 27

digital 10:25am, 1:15, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Tue., May 28

digital 10:25am, 1:15, 4:05, 6:55, 9:45

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Wed., May 22

digital 1:05, 3:55, 6:45, 9:35

Thu., May 23

digital 1:05, 3:55, 6:45, 9:35

Fri., May 24

digital 9:55am, 12:55, 3:55, 6:45, 9:40

Sat., May 25

digital 9:55am, 12:55, 3:55, 6:45, 9:40

Sun., May 26

digital 9:55am, 12:55, 3:55, 6:45, 9:40

Mon., May 27

digital 9:55am, 12:55, 3:55, 6:45, 9:40

Tue., May 28

digital 9:55am, 12:55, 3:55, 6:45, 9:40

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., May 22

digital 10:05am, 12:50, 3:40, 6:30, 9:10

Fri., May 24

digital 10:05am, 12:50, 3:40, 6:30, 9:10

Sat., May 25

digital 10:05am, 12:50, 3:40, 6:30, 9:10

Sun., May 26

digital 10:05am, 12:50, 3:40, 6:30, 9:10

Mon., May 27

digital 10:05am, 12:50, 3:40, 6:30, 9:10

Tue., May 28

digital 10:05am, 12:50, 3:40, 6:30, 9:10

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Wed., May 22

digital 12:30, 3:40, 6:45, 9:30

Fri., May 24

digital 10:00am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:45, 9:30

Sat., May 25

digital 10:00am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:45, 9:30

Sun., May 26

digital 10:00am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:45, 9:30

Mon., May 27

digital 10:00am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:45, 9:30

Tue., May 28

digital 12:40, 3:40, 6:45, 9:30

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Wed., May 22

1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 9:55

Fri., May 24

9:50am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 9:55

Sat., May 25

9:50am, 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 9:55

Sun., May 26

1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 9:55

Mon., May 27

1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 9:55

Tue., May 28

1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 9:55

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Wed., May 22

1:00, 3:40, 6:15, 10:05

Fri., May 24

1:05, 3:40, 6:15, 9:15

Sat., May 25

10:25am, 1:05, 3:40, 6:15, 9:15

Sun., May 26

3:40, 6:15, 9:15

Mon., May 27

1:05, 3:40, 6:15, 9:15

Tue., May 28

1:05, 3:40, 6:15, 9:15

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Wed., May 22

CC 11:00am, 12:30, 4:30, 7:30, 8:45

Thu., May 23

CC 11:45am, 1:30, 4:30, 7:45, 8:45

Fri., May 24

CC 11:45am, 2:45, 5:45, 8:45

Sat., May 25

CC 11:45am, 2:45, 5:45, 8:45

Sun., May 26

CC 11:45am, 2:45, 5:45, 8:45

Mon., May 27

CC 11:45am, 2:45, 5:45, 8:45

Tue., May 28

CC 11:45am, 2:45, 5:45, 8:45

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., May 22

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Thu., May 23

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Fri., May 24

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Sat., May 25

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:55, 7:45, 10:30

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Wed., May 22

11:35am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:05

Thu., May 23

11:35am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:05, 9:30

Fri., May 24

11:35am, 2:10, 4:35, 7:05, 9:30

Sat., May 25

11:35am, 2:10, 4:35, 7:05, 9:30

Sun., May 26

11:35am, 2:10, 4:35, 7:05, 9:30

Mon., May 27

11:35am, 2:10, 4:35, 7:05, 9:30

Tue., May 28

11:35am, 2:10, 4:35, 7:05, 9:30

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Wed., May 22

1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 11:00

Fri., May 24

12:00, 3:45, 6:45

Sat., May 25

12:00, 3:45, 6:45

Sun., May 26

12:00, 3:45, 6:45

Mon., May 27

12:00, 3:45, 6:45

Tue., May 28

12:00, 3:45, 6:45

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Wed., May 22

CC/DVS 2:10, 5:00, 7:50

Fri., May 24

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:30, 7:15, 10:00

Sat., May 25

CC/DVS 10:15am, 1:30, 4:30, 7:15, 10:00

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS 10:15am, 1:30, 4:30, 7:15

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS 10:00am, 1:00, 3:45, 6:30

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS 3:50, 6:45

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., May 22

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:20, 7:20, 10:05

Thu., May 23

CC/DVS 1:30, 4:20, 7:20, 10:05

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Wed., May 22

10:30am, 1:30, 2:30, 4:30, 6:00, 8:15

Thu., May 23

10:30am, 1:30, 2:30, 4:30, 6:00

Fri., May 24

10:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:00

Sat., May 25

10:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:00

Sun., May 26

10:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:00

Mon., May 27

10:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:00

Tue., May 28

10:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:00

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Wed., May 22

12:30, 4:55, 7:00, 11:20

Thu., May 23

12:30, 4:55, 7:00, 11:20

Fri., May 24

11:30am, 2:30, 5:30, 8:30

Sat., May 25

11:30am, 2:30, 5:30, 8:30

Sun., May 26

11:30am, 2:30, 5:30, 8:30

Mon., May 27

11:30am, 2:30, 5:30, 8:30

Tue., May 28

11:30am, 2:30, 5:30, 8:30

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Wed., May 22

10:10am, 1:00, 3:55, 6:50, 9:40

Fri., May 24

10:15am, 1:10, 4:05, 7:10, 9:55

Sat., May 25

10:15am, 1:10, 4:05, 7:10, 9:55

Sun., May 26

10:15am, 1:10, 4:05, 7:10, 9:55

Mon., May 27

10:15am, 1:10, 4:05, 7:10, 9:55

Tue., May 28

10:15am, 1:10, 4:05, 7:10, 9:55

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Wed., May 22

1:20, 4:00, 6:40

Thu., May 23

1:20, 4:00

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Wed., May 22

11:30am, 2:00, 4:30, 5:40, 7:00, 9:30

Fri., May 24

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30

Sat., May 25

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30

Sun., May 26

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30

Mon., May 27

10:30am, 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30

Tue., May 28

11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Wed., May 22

1:00, 4:00, 6:45, 10:00

Thu., May 23

1:00, 4:00, 6:45, 10:00

Fri., May 24

11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:30

Sat., May 25

11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:30

Sun., May 26

11:00am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:45

Mon., May 27

1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:30

Tue., May 28

1:00, 4:00, 7:00, 10:30

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., May 22

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, 9:30

Thu., May 23

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:15, 9:30

Fri., May 24

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Sat., May 25

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Sun., May 26

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Mon., May 27

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Tue., May 28

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, 9:30

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

A Dog's Journey, Gail Mancuso, Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott, Henry Lau

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