This film is clearly pitched to a young audience and plays nicely for that demographic. The shrewd device of having a dog return as incarnations of itself takes the sting – and parental explaining – out of the inevitable death of a pet.
It has a pristine, 1950s sensibility about it; very heavy on the tropes and tokenism, fairly light on substance and insight. The story begins and ends with Bailey who is rescued from a hot vehicle and then adopted by a young Ethan and his mother. Ethan is a teenager at college by the time Bailey dies, but the dog comes back again and again, living as different species with different owners presenting different aspects of life until he finally returns to Ethan when Ethan is an old, lonely man, and helps him find love.
There are a lot of ideological problems with this film, but it feels self aware enough to know it’s a watch and forget kid’s flick.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich.