Beloved family dog, Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), returns for another adventure in “A Dog’s Journey” (Universal Pictures). A sequel to 2017’s “A Dog’s Purpose,” this new adventure finds Bailey living the good life with his “boy” Ethan (Dennis Quaid). He’s also getting to know CJ (Emma Volk), short for Clarity June, Ethan and Hannah’s (Marg Helgenberger) granddaughter. When Hannah’s son is killed in a car accident before CJ’s birth, Ethan and Hannah take mother, Gloria (Betty Gilpin) and daughter in. As CJ grows, Gloria feels her role as a mother being threatened by her late husband’s parents, so she takes toddler CJ and moves away, much to Bailey’s chagrin.
Boss Dog, as Ethan calls Bailey, begins to feel his years and the vet comes to put him down. Before going to sleep for good, Bailey hears Ethan whisper in his ear to make sure he takes care and protects CJ. Just like in “A Dog’s Purpose,” Bailey finds himself reincarnated as another dog, this time as Molly, a girl Beaglier (cross between a beagle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), who manages to smell pre-teen CJ (Abby Rider Fortson) when her best friend, Trent (Ian Chen) comes to claim a puppy from the same litter. CJ smuggles Molly into her home because Gloria can’t stand dogs.
The glimpses of CJ’s home life are heartbreaking. It seems Gloria hasn’t matured so CJ takes care of herself. Trent and Molly are her only friends and they get into mild mischief together like most kids do.
Molly journeys with CJ (Kathryn Prescott) as she grows into an adolescent. The adorable pooch fulfills Ethan’s mandate time and again as CJ encounters troubles at home and in a budding relationship with Shane (Jake Manley), an ill-advised bond that turns dangerous.
As CJ ages, so does Molly and when her time comes to die yet again, she loses track of CJ for a while. An aspiring singer/songwriter, young adult CJ makes her way to New York, where stage fright hampers her career. Walking dogs to pay the rent, she encounters the next reincarnation of Bailey, a cute little Yorkshire Terrier called Max. The question is, how does Max/Bailey fulfill his ultimate purpose?
Kathryn Prescott as CJ and Henry Lau as Trent in "A Dog's Journey" (Universal Pictures)
Josh Gad once again brings his comedic talent to bear giving Bailey a voice from loving it when baby CJ drops food on the floor from her highchair to being very emphatic about who he likes and doesn’t like when it comes to CJ and Trent’s significant others. Dennis Quaid and Marg Helgenberger are just classic as CJ’s grandparents and Prescott and Henry Lau as adult Trent have a chemistry that the audience can sense just as well as Bailey can smell.
With a screenplay by by W. Bruce Cameron (based on his novel), Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon, and Wallace Wolodarsky and directed by Gail Mancuso, “A Dog’s Journey,” celebrates family, reconciliation, and loving loyalty.
Thanks to Catholic News Service for permission to post this review.