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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

February. 03,1993
| Adventure Comedy Family

Remake of the popular Disney classic, this time featuring some well known voices as two dogs and a cat trek across America encountering all sorts of adventures in the quest to be reunited with their owners.


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This is a story of three animals who become lost and must make their way back home. There is a cat, Sassy, who is mouthy and annoying. Chance, an immature, careless, reckless dog. And Shadow, the mature, well traveled voice of reason. Of course, these animals talk to each other. Two of them are determined. One, Chance (who lives up to his name) gets careless and overly adventurous, putting the others in danger. Shadow is an optimist. He believes sincerely that they will eventually be found and returned to their families. It's a good story and the voices are superimposed. They are not made to talk with some twisted mouth, to look like humans. This is a great movie for children. It is about love and compassion and commitment to an ideal. It also expresses the idea of never giving up.


My sister had a VHS copy years and years ago, but our mom got rid of it feeling we had outgrown it. Maybe in adolescence, she was right. Fast forward to 10+ years later and I decide to check a DVD copy out of the library just for old times' sake for no real reason. Prior to now (I'm a 27-year-old single man), I have discovered lots of movies I was too young to see circa 1993...A Clockwork Orange, Reservoir Dogs, The Terminator, Road Trip...OK, that movie didn't come out 'til 2000 and it's not an absolute classic like the first three, but you get the idea! I popped the movie into my player this evening to see if the movie held up. And wouldn't you know it...it does! In fact, I cried so much at the end, my ears are still moist half an hour after it ended.Truth be told, however, the first few minutes are pretty stupid, but it does show Chance and Sassy's resentment to one another, which is important to the story. The real magic comes when the three animals (especially Chance) realize what home and family really means when their child owners leave them on a farm. That's when they decide to make their escape and from there, it's an adventure that may be dangerous, but in the words of Sassy, "I laugh at danger." The most touching scenes are Sassy finding her way back to Chance and Shadow after she was rescued from being drowned and Shadow finding the lost Molly in the woods. The touching musical score from Bruce Broughton is also a major factor.I'd like to note I work with pets sometimes, so I know how it would feel if one of them (or even all of them) just disappeared. My family's favourite cat died of old age in July 2011. As you can imagine, I was heartbroken, but at that time, I was sharing a house with a middle-aged couple who had two shihtzus, so before I went out to do my errands that day, I made sure to say hello to the two little dogs because although one of my family pets was gone, I had two other ones who could be a beacon of hope for me.No matter how old you are or what your tastes are or if you generally can't stand anything that comes from Disney, you seriously must see this film and you'll feel redeemed that way. And as piece of advice: don't be afraid to let a song or a movie or a TV show turn on the waterworks for you; it means you have a soul.


I remember seeing most of this family adventure movie as a kid. It was released early in 1993, and I think I saw it on video later that year. Towards the end, I came across a scene which I found too overwhelmingly sad, and I guess I didn't watch what little was left of the film, though I did watch the sequel, "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco", from beginning to end shortly after it was released on video in 1996. I believe it's been nearly seventeen years since I watched any of "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey", but after all these years, I still remember it. After renting it this month, I can say I've finally seen it all. While it's not what I would call a bad movie, I was definitely not as impressed as many others clearly have been.Chance is a naïve young Bulldog who was once stuck at the pound, a place he hated, but is now owned by a boy named Jamie Seaver. He lives with two other domestic animals: Shadow, a wise old Golden Retriever owned by Jamie's stepbrother, Peter Burnford; and Sassy, an arrogant Himalayan cat owned by Peter's sister, Hope. After Laura Burnford and Bob Seaver get married, meaning that the two families are now one, they go on a trip to San Francisco and the pets are left at a friend's ranch. Chance, Shadow, and Sassy do not understand what has just happened, and don't realize that their owners will come back, so they think they've been abandoned! Shadow decides to leave the ranch and set out to find the family, and Sassy and Chance soon follow! The three of them find themselves on a journey through the wilderness, facing the dangers of this terrain! Chance's lack of experience definitely won't help him on this adventure.The silly things Chance does and the rivalry between Chance and Sassy are meant to be comical, which they sometimes are, but not usually. Chance's antics can also get tiring after a short while. I didn't care much for these two characters, and don't think Michael J. Fox and Sally Field did a very good job providing their respective voices. Don Ameche as Shadow might be the only decent voice-over of the three, and this character is the most likable of the leads. After I started watching "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" this month, I soon realized how boring I found the film, and that didn't change until I got to the part where the journey begins. There's lots of beautiful scenery through the mountainous wilderness and the adventure of the three domestic animals is often exciting. Shadow's wisdom can be another intriguing aspect of the film, and some scenes are fairly touching, such as the Golden Retriever saving a little girl lost in the forest. However, there's still more weak humour during the adventure, and the scenes with the humans looking for the animals are certainly not as interesting as the ones showing the pets on their journey. None of the human characters really stand out.With a spoiler warning, I will tell you which part made me really sad all those years ago, and the ending that follows. If you haven't seen the film, you might not want to read on, but if you have, then maybe you've already guessed. It's the part where the three pets are almost home, but Shadow falls into a pit and injures his leg, and it appears he can't get out! When I watched "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco", I knew the aging dog obviously got out of the pit somehow, since he's in that sequel. After over a decade and a half, I finally found out that "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" doesn't show how Shadow gets out, but at the end, we see the three animals returning to their owners, even though it takes the Golden Retriever longer to show up than it does for the other two. Anyway, overall, this particular animal movie is hit-and-miss, with an exciting adventure and cute animal stars, but also with several significant shortcomings.


First of all, I loved Bruce Broughton's music score, very lyrical, and this alone added to the film's charm. The best aspect of the movie were the three animals, superlatively voiced by Michael J.Fox, Sally Field and the late Don Ameche. Whereas Fox has the funniest lines, Ameche plays a rather brooding otherwise engaging character(the voice of reason), and Field adds wit into a character that is always seen telling Chance off. The humans weren't as engaging, and sometimes the film dragged, but that is my only complaint. This is one beautiful-looking film, with beautiful close up shots of Canada, I believe. Although the film itself is quite long, there is never a seriously dull moment, and this is advantaged by the voice work and a well-written script. All in all, a charming and perhaps underrated film, with a 9/10 from me. Bethany Cox.