Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco

(David R. Ellis, USA, 1996)


Forget all those brilliantly executed animatronic devices in Babe (1995) that made us believe for moment that animals could actually talk. In this sequel to the popular kids film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993), we are back to the old-fashioned, slightly creaky trick of the Look Who’s Talking (1989) movies: shots of animals staring, panting or wiggling, while an actor’s voice-over conveys the thought track that, miraculously, these beasts are able to beam into each other’s brains.

The method did not bother me. Homeward Bound II takes the typical story of an incredible journey back home for three animals (two dogs and a cat) and spices it up with a canine love intrigue and a bit of class contradiction between domestic pets and their new-found streetwise comrades. When our furry heroes stand together before an oncoming truck full of bad humans, they almost resemble the students of Tiananmen Square.

This is an enjoyable confection, with expert vocal artists Michael J. Fox, Sally Field and Ralph Waite occasionally throwing in a mild double entendre (one dog admits he is "into leather") for adult viewers. There are predictably conservative elements here (a dog is a boy’s best friend and a cat is a girl’s best friend), but less expectedly, some genuinely moving emotional clinches.

Many films made for teenagers these days are referred to as animal comedies, because of their stress on unsocialised bad manners and bodily excesses of all sorts. It is notable that in this literal animal comedy for children, all overt references to sexuality are expelled – but at least there are a few good, uninhibited jokes about pissing.

MORE Ellis: Final Destination 2, Cellular

© Adrian Martin June 1996

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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