A Dog’s Way Home is the heartwarming adventure of Bella, the brave and adventurous dog that embarks on an epic 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her beloved human, Lucas. We have two dogs and after my daughters watched the movie, I think they got a whole new appreciation for their pets – and the unconditional love that they have for us. Director Charles Martin Smith actually said that is what he hopes kids and families take away from A Dog’s Way Home, so he was definitely doing something right.
My favorite thing about this movie is Bella’s determination to get home to Lucas. She touched the hearts of so many along the way back to him. From humans, to other animals. I would like to hope that my dogs would do the same thing should they ever get lost, but I doubt it. My daughters really loved this movie and my 6 year old cried (yea she gets that from her Mama).
Casting Bryce Dallas Howard
The A Dog’s Way Home director, Charles Martin Smith, also directed Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 – which also happen to be favorite movies of my daughters. They thought I was a real celebrity in getting to talk with him for a few minutes about his latest film. I am a huge fan of Bryce Dallas Howard, who voices Bella, so I had to ask him whose decision it was to bring her on. He let me know it was a group effort, as it almost always is, but I did learn something very interesting from him in asking this question.
“I shot and edited the whole movie using a temporary voice actress while we worked out the voice over. The decision of bringing on Bryce, or anyone, is virtually the last thing you do in a movie like this. Once you’ve got the script down, and you really know what you want the dog to say. We talked about a number of different people and then all decided on Bryce. We thought she’d have just the right voice.”
The odds of a dog escaping and going through what Bella went through are probably very slim to none. But while watching this film, it seemed realistic to my family. Charles was happy to hear that I felt that way because he wanted it to feel natural. We laughed when I said my dogs would likely stay with the first person who fed them. (They totally would.)
“It’s the unwavering devotion and love. To me, that’s the strongest message. I’d love it if kids came away from this thinking that in a day we live in, with so much uncertainty, that there can be that unwavering, undying love – and that’s the strongest force in the world.”
Of course working with animals can be hard, and Charles confirmed there are always some things you don’t expect. While no “bloopers” came to mind for him, he did tell me that he had two cameras rolling at all times to capture what Shelby was doing. Even if she went off script so to say. This would help the movie feel more natural.
“My goal was to make it as natural and believable as possible. The trainers did great things with the dogs. They taught Shelby a few things that we needed – like how to steal the chicken out of the grocery store. How to grab the bag in her mouth and then run with it. Just little things like that. The dog just did them so expressively and with such enthusiasm that it comes off very real.”
I have said it time and time again, but my favorite part about a home release is the bonus features. This movie has some pretty cool extras, including a DIY guide to creating your own tasty dog treats at home. I was also happy to see there were deleted scenes because those are my favorite!
- DIY Doggie Treats With Shelby: What animal doesn’t like a special treat? With adult supervision and some help from our furry friends, we’ll make a couple of tasty homemade dog treats!
- Unforgettable Journey: Join novelist W. Bruce Cameron, director Charles Martin Smith and the extraordinary cast and crew as they discuss their journey to bring Bella’s heartwarming tale to the big screen.
- Dog Days: Shelby’s Production Diary: Meet Shelby, the canine star of A Dog’s Way Home and track her journey from being adopted from a shelter to being cast as “Bella”. Follow Shelby and her trainers as she prepares for the film and join her on set as she makes her big screen debut.
- Deleted Scenes
Bring home your copy of A Dog’s Way Home April 9th!
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.