Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995)

12 Nov

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Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

There were moments in the family film “Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog” that really surprised me. For one thing, I was shocked to discover that this film about a boy and his dog braving the wilderness alone for a three-week journey was not a harmless picnic. The boy is resourceful and quick-witted, and the dog is truly wonderful, but man do they go through some pretty rough stuff. By the end of this trek, the boy is tired and weak and he and the dog have already been through what is absolutely no fun camping trip. Moments in this film ring true when it’s focused on the outdoor scenes. Even in the inevitable material such as when the boy and his dog encounter a wolf and a cougar, there’s a surprising level of suspense that keeps it interesting.

But those moments are so few in “Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog,” which despite the title is more about the boy finding his way home than it is about the dog. The boy, named Angus (Jesse Bradford), has been taught by his father (Bruce Davison) some of the basic rules of wilderness survival. These tactics come in handy when he is a boat accident that leaves him, and his new dog Yellow, in the Canadian wilderness. They must rely on their courage and skills for about three weeks, enduring violent rainstorms, a pack of wolves, starvation, freezing temperatures, and a curious cougar, all while Angus’ father and mother (Mimi Rogers) continue to pay ($200,000 a week) for searches.

It’s hard not to recommend a film like this, especially since it has moments that make it a little more mature than most boy-and-his-dog stories, and it is well-made with nicely-done photography of the island that the boy is stuck on. Jesse Bradford is quite good in the leading role too. I think my problems mainly had to do with everything else. The scenes with the worrying parents are too corny for my taste; sometimes the tone of the film is too innocuous to be anything but predictable; and I’m sorry to say this, but the dog is too perfect. The dog always knows what to do and how to do it, and the kid suffers worse than he does. I know that’s weird of me to say, as I am a dog person and truly wouldn’t want any harm to come to this dog, but to make this dog so perfect loses the film some of its credibility.

By the way, where did the dog come from anyway? Angus finds him at the beginning of the film, and we know nothing about where the dog came from in the first place. Isn’t that strange?

The last fifteen-or-so minutes of the film are the most boring because it drags on for far too long, as we know that somehow, as Angus continues to blow that dog whistle in the hopes that Yellow will find his way home, Yellow will finally come. How did Yellow manage to find his way back to Angus? Why didn’t we see that story?

I don’t know what else to say, except that it sort of feels like perhaps this film was done in a hurry. Many parts of the film feel a little too rushed, without much time to let everything sink in. Some of the time, scenes are glanced over and forgotten. It’s kind of embarrassing for me to give a film like this a mixed review, considering that it has moments that are more mature than in most boy-and-his-dog stories. But “Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog” could have been better.

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