CHILDHOOD REVISITED – HOMEWARD BOUND: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY


Screenshot from Homeward Bound

Someone get this girl some friends.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey – (1993)

Director: Duwayne Dunham
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Sally Field, Don Ameche
Screenplay by: Caroline Thompson, Linda Woolverton

I profusely apologize for the late posting of this entry. It was supposed to be uploaded a week ago, but last minute events held me up in preparing for my trip out to LA. To wit: it’s not that I didn’t want to continue this feature, it’s simply that the webtoon pitch and work has kept me overall very busy. That, and the fact that Homeward Bound is incredibly boring.

NOSTALGIC LENS: Homeward Bound is one of those “kill time in school” films – you know, the ones where the teacher shows it to you at the end of the day when classes are over and you’ve learned everything you could for the day, which manages to produce a short,  safe, kids-friendly, 90-minute tale that does the bare minimum to warm the heart. (There are a few films that fit this list which I’ll be rewatching) While I remember mildly enjoying this film, I can’t say it particularly warmed my heart or left any lasting impression. I thought they fought a bear in this movie.

DOES IT HOLD UP: They don’t fight a bear. They fight a cougar. And they don’t really fight the cougar, because it’s painfully obvious that the cougar and the canines are in completely different spaces. It’s an editing trick. See, cause what you do is cut different frames of differently shot scenes, so it makes it seem like they’re in the same space. Movie magic!

Homeward Bound is a fucking slog. It’s a film that exist simply to exist. It certainly doesn’t have the heartwarming eye for detail and endearing elements like Babe, and yet, doesn’t inspire anger and hatred like the horrible Theodore Rex. It’s just a boring, run-of-the-mill glacier of a film, with predictable beats and nonsensical moments, and forced conflicts to make what should have been a 22-minute episode of a PBS show into a full-length feature.

Due to a huge and “incredible” eye-rolling predicament, the pets of the Seaver family – one Chase, Shadow, and Sassy – believe themselves to be abandoned at some farm when they’re placed there for a week for some reason or another. They manage to break out of their pen and find themselves trucking across through the wilderness to find their way home.

The only thing about the film that’s kind of interesting is the decision to make the pets unable to understand their human owners. This language barrier lays a somewhat plausible base in which all this could happen. But the “comedy of errors” set of coincidences that keep this film moving is so ridiculous that it drives you crazy. A local farmer misinterprets a note that the animals are fine. Chase goes nuts when some doctors help him, prompting an extra forty minutes of movie when they “escape” the very help they seek to find. There’s a random scene where a disheveled Sassy is nursed back to help, only to never be referenced again. And so on.

The writing’s filler. The acting is between bland and awful (I’m looking at you, kids). The cinematography of some of the outdoor scenes are nice, but hardly anything special. A competent cinematographer SHOULD be able to film visually striking outdoor shots. And, as alluded above, the editing is atrocious. Here’s every single complaint, in one deliciously full ten minute clip:

Beyond that, though, there’s nothing else about this film worth talking about. It certainly won’t wow or impress adults, and it barely passes the mark for “talking animal” films. Keith Phipps over at the AVClub wrote quite on point about how dogs make bad actors. The more you think about it, the more you realize that these trained creatures are really simply reacting to cues off-screen, and only the top notch editors, voice artists, and directors can really pull it off. Homeward Bound, by merely being adequate, ultimately fails.

IN A NUTSHELL: Yawnfest. Homeward Bound is as boring as the actors clearly are. I know teachers are killing time, but Jesus, you’re also killing excitement.

NEXT UP: Casper

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  1. #1 by Nessie on January 20, 2011 - 3:58 pm

    “(This is) one of those “kill time in school” films – you know, the ones where the teacher shows it to you at the end of the day when classes are over and you’ve learned everything you could for the day, which manages to produce a short, safe, kids-friendly, 90-minute tale that does the bare minimum to warm the heart.”

    Oh good God, please tell me you’ll do “The Boy Who Could Fly”. I maintain that vague memories of that freakin’ thing is the reason why so many people have a warped idea of what it is to be on the Autism spectrum. (Well, that and “The Wizard”.)

  2. #2 by Jon on January 24, 2011 - 1:16 am

    “Homeward Bound is a fucking slog. It’s a film that exists simply to exist.”

    LOL. I hear the sequel is even better!

  3. #3 by Admin on February 6, 2011 - 1:31 pm

    Nessie – I never got to see that one, so unfortunately there’s little chance I will. Nor have I’ve seen the Wizard, although I wish I had. I’d LOVE to re-review that one!

  4. #4 by katie on November 10, 2011 - 3:19 am

    i homebound is my favrotie chidhood movie

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