“A Dog’s Way Home” (Columbia)

Ashley Judd, Shelby the dog, Rolando Boyce and Annie Nelson star in a scene from the movie "A Dog's Way Home." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Sony Pictures)

By Catholic News Service

Canine cuteness abounds in this quest-based adventure, adapted by director Charles Martin Smith from the novel by W. Bruce Cameron (who co-wrote the screenplay with his wife, Cathryn Michon). But various elements make the film unsuitable for the youngsters at whom it’s partially aimed.

Adopted by an affectionate Denver-based medical student (Jonah Hauer-King) and his psychologically scarred veteran mom (Ashley Judd), a stray pit bull-mix puppy (voice of Bryce Dallas Howard) settles into a happy domesticated life. But a local animal control officer (John Cassini) has it in for the pooch, and she is sent away to prevent her being impounded and euthanized. Not realizing the arrangement is temporary, she resolves to make her own way back home.

Along the grueling 400-mile journey, she faces various dangers, including a showdown with a pack of wolves and an encounter with an ill-fated homeless man (Edward James Olmos) that are much too scary for little viewers. She also finds shelter, briefly, with a gay couple. Grown-ups with a soft spot for cuddly creatures will take all this in stride, though there’s little on offer here beyond a lovable face, a waggly tail and some droll dog’s-eye-view commentary on human behavior.

Considerable peril, a benignly viewed homosexual relationship. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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