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The young bulldog Chance tells us all in advance that he needs no home or owner.
He was lost and found and has been to the pound so he thinks himself a loner.
His family, though, which has started to grow with a stepdad for his kid,
Loves Chance a lot, even when he cannot help but do what they forbid.
There’s Shadow as well, a retriever by smell, who is tranquil, old and wise,
And Sassy the cat, who Chance likes to jeer at, though her skills catch him by surprise.
When Dad has to move, all the kids disapprove, for the animals must stay behind.
A family friend on whom they can depend agrees to keep all three confined.
The ranch where they’ll stay seems so far, far away that the children hate to leave,
And Shadow and Sassy, as faithful as Lassie, are sad to see them grieve.
They patiently wait and they both contemplate what could cause this sudden defection,
While Chance could care less, with too much to assess on the farm for introspection.
When Shadow feels strongly that something is wrong, he decides to depart for their home,
And Sassy and Chance, who are shy to advance, then join him to ramble and roam.
Naïve as they are, they believe it’s not far, but they soon are presented with trials:
The Sierra Nevadas, like wooded armadas, extending before them for miles.
From creepy night scares to giant brown bears to hunger they never have known,
These unseasoned pets are hounded by threats as they press over meadow and stone.
They suffer a loss at a river they cross as Sassy is carried away.
While watching birds soar, a man finds her on shore and gives her a warm place to stay.
The dogs are confronted and afterward hunted by some mountain cat that was spying.
A plan they devise takes the cat by surprise and sends the immense feline flying.
When Sassy is better and no longer wet, her desire for home makes her part.
She joins with her pals and improves their morales so the rest of their journey can start.
They find in the forest a girl at her poorest, alone for some reason and cold.
They stay with the child, so lost in the wild, and make sure a search party’s told.
Her parents are grateful, and this turns out fateful, for all three are quickly embraced.
Their owners are given the news and are driven to where their dear pets have been placed,
But Chance thinks they’ve found the deplorable pound so all of them flee and are chased.
Their kids are too late, for the pets couldn’t wait but keep on their homeward-bound trip.
When all that remains is a trek through some trains, poor Shadow then suffers a slip.
He falls in a pit, cannot climb out of it, and starts to act sad and morose,
But Sassy and Chance urge him still to advance, especially since they’re so close.
The kids that they’ve trekked a long way to protect are glad to hear barking and yell.
First Chance rushes there, though he claimed not to care, and Sassy then follows as well.
Though Shadow is hurt, he climbed out of the dirt and joins with his person to play.
Though Chance likes to roam, this new family and home are now where he’s happy to stay.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is one of those perfect children’s movies that adults enjoy just as much as the kids. A remake of Disney’s 1963 adaptation of a Sheila Burnford novel, both entitled The Incredible Journey, this film is a must for dog and cat lovers. (I am the latter.) While the book and the previous version were set in Canada, this one is among the glorious vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

While Homeward Bound has the three main animals speak to each other, their mouths do not move, whether for budget or believability reasons, but their conversations are just as good as other films that do have creatures literally speak, such as Babe or Charlotte’s Web. This is due to a clever script that pokes fun at common dog-and-cat behavior with a host of great lines, as well as the perfect voice acting. Michael J. Fox brings great energy as Chance, and Don Ameche is much more likable as Shadow than he was in Trading Places. My favorite, though, is Sally Field as Sassy, whose voice I can now hear coming from any snooty feline. How they trained the animals to do everything in this picture is astounding, particularly the very real-looking scene of a poor kitty swept away by a rushing river. Even when the animals messed up, such as some scenes in which Chance slips while running, they just included it as an extra joke in the voiceover. “I meant to do that.”

While the animals are spot-on, the human side of the coin sometimes feels like a TV movie, understandable considering that first-time director Duwayne Dunham went on to direct some respectable Disney Channel films like Halloweentown, The Thirteenth Year, and Now You See It…. Luckily the animals are the stars, and the audience can’t help but root for them, even though their journey was totally unnecessary. If they had just stayed, nothing bad would have happened. Dogs.

Full of breathtaking mountain scenery and touching reunions, Homeward Bound is a wonderful movie for any pet lover and a fond carryover from my childhood.

Best line (there are many): (Sassy) “Yes. I’ll get food by acting like I don’t want food.”
(Chance) “That’s stupid.”
(Sassy) “I’ll prove it.”
(Chance) “Oh, you don’t have to prove it. I believe you’re stupid.”


Artistry: 6
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 5
Originality: 5
Watchability: 7
TOTAL: 37 out of 60

Next: #251 – Brave

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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