Last January, A Dog’s Purpose debuted to poor reviews and lukewarm box office, and rightly so. The film followed a dog’s soul—represented by a Josh Gad-voiced inner-monologue—as it traveled from mortal dog-body to mortal dog-body, retaining its memories along the way, an insane person’s Quantum Leap by way of Marley & Me and Look Who’s Talking Now. Yet this tale of a multitude of sentient dog deaths really struck a chord in China, the movie ended up making nearly $140 million abroad. So now, following its trail of dog corpses, A Dog’s Purpose has its own spiritual successor.
Distilling the series’ high-concept premise down to something less hauntingly existential, A Dog’s Way Home is more a Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey follow-up than a new chapter in A Dog’s Purpose‘s bat-shit soul-searching. Bryce Dallas Howard stars as the voice of a dog lost in the wilderness after chasing a squirrel, sending her on a desperate journey to find her way home. Also borrowing from Benji the Hunted‘s cougar storyline, our dog-hero ends up running into an atrocious CG mountain lion plucked straight from Big Buck Hunter.
Like its predecessor, A Dog’s Way Home comes from the mind of author-turned-screenwriter W. Bruce Cameron, the Nicholas Barks of saccharine dog literature. It hits theaters January 11.