A Dog’s Journey parents guide

A Dog’s Journey Parent Guide

The cinematic equivalent of comfort food, this film is neither innovative nor interesting, but it sure makes you feel good.

Overall B

Bailey the dog has been there for Ethan for a long time, but now Ethan's granddaughter CJ needs the help more.

Release date May 17, 2019

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use C

Why is A Dog’s Journey rated PG? The MPAA rated A Dog’s Journey PG for thematic content, some peril and rude humor.

Run Time: 108 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

In 2017, A Dog’s Purpose introduced us to Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), a lovable dog whose loyalty to his beloved master Ethan (Dennis Quaid) was literally stronger than death. Reincarnated over and over again, Bailey learned that his purpose was to watch over Ethan forever.

But now it’s time for the sequel, A Dog’s Journey, and soon Bailey is dying again. As Bailey slips away, Ethan gives him a new purpose – to protect and watch out for his granddaughter C.J. (Abby Ryder Fortson/Kathryn Prescott) And, boy, does C.J. need protecting. Born one month after her father’s untimely death, C.J. has spent her first two years living with grandparents Ethan and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) and her immature, self-absorbed mother, Gloria (Betty Gilpin). Convinced that Ethan and Hannah look down on her and want to take her child, Gloria leaves in a huff and refuses to allow the doting grandparents to see C.J. again. Drowning her sorrows in copious amounts of alcohol, Gloria neglects her child and squanders the insurance money that was supposed to provide for C.J.’s future. Clearly, help is needed and this is when Bailey re-enters C.J.’s life, ready to fulfill his purpose.

There are no real surprises in this movie – it unfolds exactly like you expect it to. Most viewers will be able to predict events a good 20 minutes ahead of time. A Dog’s Journey is basically the cinematic equivalent of comfort food: it’s neither innovative nor interesting but it sure makes you feel better.

Parents will feel good about taking older kids to this movie, thanks to its lack of profanity and sexual content. There is some plot-related violence, but the area of biggest concern is Gloria’s alcoholism. She is shown drinking wine at all hours, leaving C.J. to make her own meals and fend for herself. And as upsetting as this is, Gloria’s obsession with her child’s weight and her often cruel comments to her daughter can also make for painful viewing.

But the unpleasant moments are spread out between many scenes of doggy cuteness and warm relationships. A Dog’s Journey feels like a Hallmark TV special, and no matter how bleak things may look, audiences know that this movie’s purpose is to deliver a sentimental, happy-ever-after ending. Which it does…to nobody’s surprise.

Directed by Gail Mancuso. Starring Betty Gilpin, Dennis Quaid, and Jake Manley. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release May 17, 2019. Updated

Watch the trailer for A Dog’s Journey

A Dog’s Journey
Rating & Content Info

Why is A Dog’s Journey rated PG? A Dog’s Journey is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic content, some peril and rude humor.

Violence: A dog is euthanized. Another dog dies in a car accident. There is a moment of peril when a child wanders into an enclosure with a wild horse. A man grabs a young woman in a threatening manner and yells at her: her dog bites him. He later pursues her car, ramming it. When she tries to elude him, her car flips over. A puppy snaps at people’s fingers.
Sexual Content:   There are a few scenes involving kisses between a man and woman.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character is an alcoholic. She is shown drinking alcohol at all hours and neglecting her child. A minor attends a party where alcohol is served: she doesn’t drink any. Her boyfriend is apparently dealing drugs.

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A Dog’s Journey Parents' Guide

Have you ever had a dog or other pet that had a powerful impact on your life? What did the dog do that was so helpful for you?

Interested in getting a dog? How do you know if you are ready to look after one?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans and its sequel A Dog’s Journey: A Novel are the books on which these films are based. Susan Wilson has also written novels featuring dogs. Her The Dog Who Saved Me tells the touching story of a man, nearing rock bottom, whose decision to take in a rescue dog changes his life for the better.

In A Big Little Life, writer Dean Koontz writes a memoir about his golden retriever Trixie and her impact on his life. John Steinbeck also wrote a memoir featuring his dog: Travels with Charley in Search of America. And Julie Barton wrote Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself about the role her dog played in helping her through her depression.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

This film is a sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, which tells the story of Bailey’s first four lives.

If you like feel-good pooch pictures, there are lots to choose from. A Dog’s Way Home tells the tale of a dog who makes a long trek to be reunited with her beloved owner. Dog Days shares the stories of several people whose lives are changed for the better, thanks to their canine companions.

For a more exhaustive list, click on our round-up of dog movies here.