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Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a 1993 film produced by Disney. It is live-action with voiceover narration and loosely based on an earlier film called The Incredible Journey, itself based on a 1960 book of the same name by Sheila Burnford. The film was the first one directed by Duwayne Dunham, who would go on to direct such films as Little Giants (1994) and Halloweentown (1998).
It follows a golden retriever (Shadow), an American bulldog (Chance), and a Himalayan cat (Sassy) as they trek through the wilderness of the American northwest to be reunited with their owners. Shadow was voiced by Don Ameche, Chance by Michael J. Fox, and Sassy by Sally Field. The film was a modest box office hit, earning $41,833,324 in the United States market, making it the 34th most successful film of its year.
There was a sequel released in 1996, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. Ameche had died back in 1993, and Ralph Waite replaced him in the role of Shadow, while Fox and Field returned to their previous roles. The film was less successful than its predecessor, earning $32,772,492 in the United States market and landing the 53rd spot on a list of the most successful film of its year.
This movie contains examples of the following tropes:
- Zero-Approval Gambit: When Chance was being "tortured" by the vets at the pound, Chance during one of his confessions indicated that he was not only responsible for leaving "a gift" on the living room carpet, but that Sassy had taken the blame for Chance.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude
- Ass Kicks You: Chance's encounter with a porcupine.
He bit me with his butt!
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: Chance
- Big Eater: Chance. A notable example is at the beginning of the film, where Chance manages to eat the entire wedding cake before the newlywed Seavers got a chance to cut it, much to the attendee's shock (and one old man's amusement). Chance later ends up regretting eating the cake when he is forced to vomit it out, apparently due to it disagreeing with his system.
- Call Back: Early in the film, Sassy shows Chance the perfect way to get food: act like you don't want it. He tries it himself while they're lost in the woods.
Chance: How did Sassy do this? I don't want it, I don't want it, I don't want it- [a crayfish grabs his lip] AYE! AYE! AYE! I don't want it! I don't want it!
- Cats Are Snarkers: Sassy lives up to her name.
- Cats Are Superior: Sassy is quite arrogant and condescending to Chance, often talking about how cats are superior to dogs.
- Chekhov's Gun: As a prank in the beginning of the film, Chance pounces on a seesaw with Sassy on the lower end and catapults her onto the sandbox. Chance later does something very similar with a rock version, this time against a monstrous Mountain Lion that is very hungry, and in order to get rid of it for good.
- When Kate is leaving, she writes a note, but after closing the barn door, it then focuses on the note landing on a nearby haystack, indicating that it would become important later on. That's because the male rancher who is housesitting finds an outdated penned note in its place and thus mistakeningly believed that she was taking Shadow, Chance, and Sassy to the vet. A scene only available on televised airings of the movie also has her discovering the note on the haystack while she was going to the barn with the male rancher to find out what was going on.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Invoked and subverted: After Shadow, Chance and Sassy are taken to the pound as a relay point for the Seavors to pick them up, the medical staff bring Chance in to a back room. Although Chance's reactions to the whole thing indicated he thought they intended to torture him, it's clear that they were really just trying to remove the porcupine quills from his muzzle.
- Determinator: Shadow, as evidenced by this dialogue:
[Kate leaves for the stock drive, locking the animals inside the fenced-off front yard before doing so]
- Disney Death: Sassy goes over a waterfall.
- Shadow is injured and trapped, and tells Chance to go on without him. He gets home anyway.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Chance. Sassy is a big believer of this largely because of him.
- The Door Slams You: Shadow "rescues" Chance from the pound this way by pouncing the fence right in front of the pound personnel.
- Everything's Worse with Bears: Chance learns this the hard way by scaring a couple of bear cubs who were trying to steal his fish. Their mother is none too pleased with him.
- Female Feline, Male Mutt: Sassy being the feline with Chance and Shadow being the dogs.
- Flower Pot Drop: In Homeward Bound II: Lost In San Francisco, Sassy knocks a flower pot off of a shelf on top of one of the mean stray dogs.
- Friend to All Living Things: The birdwatcher who eventually rescues Sassy.
- In a scene shown only on television, he plays the saxophone which the animals listen to.
- Groin Attack: Discussed by Shadow, see Parental Bonus below.
- Heroic BSOD: Shadow and Chance, at the same time, after they fail to stop Sassy from plummeting over the waterfall, thinking she's dead.
- Heroic Dog: Both Shadow and Chance have their moments, but a BIG subversion comes about halfway through the movie when Shadow fails to save Sassy when she falls in the river, not that he didn't do everything he could.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Ted Striker plays the kids' stepfather.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Don Ameche voices Shadow; Michael J. Fox voices Chance; Sally Field voices Sassy.
- Hoist By Her Own Petard: Sassy refuses to cross the river where it was shallow, out of a stubborn desire to not get wet at all. The "bridge" she uses to cross the river breaks, sending her into the rapids... and over a waterfall.
- The Homeward Journey
- Hypocritical Humor: Sassy refused to sleep in the dirt.
Chance: Well, look who's down in the dirt with the dogs. Morning, honey.
- I Meant to Do That: Chance runs into a small tree after calling Sassy fat.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "I hate fast food."
- I Will Find You: Shadow to Peter.
- Mama Bear: A rather literal example: Chance scares away two bear cubs who were stealing his fish. He'll later regret this decision and barely escape with his life when their mom arrives.
- Missed Him by That Much: The trio escapes from
prisonthe pound just as the family is pulling up to get them.
- Shadow gets the feeling that they ought to turn back, but shrugs it off and keeps going.
- They also cross a trail that cuts through the road the family is driving on, missing them by seconds.
- Mood Whiplash: As Shadow, Chance, and Sassy run together after having gotten separated, Chance trips and yelps "Whoops, gopher hole!"
- Old Dog: Shadow.
- The Other Rainforest: Their incredible journey takes them across the western United States, shot mostly in the Pacific Northwest.
- Parental Bonus: As Chance is chewing on a shoe, he offers a piece to Sassy:
"No thanks, I'm not into leather."
- After Chance gets himself injured by a porcupine:
Shadow: Oh, Chance, you really are a bulldog, aren't you?
- "Whatever you do, don't lick yourself."
- Pinching Pain: Chance gets pinched in the lip by a crawdad while fishing, which made his current porcupine injury even worse.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons: Played with; the animals see it as this, but the handlers really do have their best interests at heart.
- Justified that Chance has been to one when he was a puppy. So he has a lot of "experience" in these types of places.
- Poor Communication Gets Your Pets Lost: If Peter's stepdad had just gone ahead and told him they wouldn't be back for two weekends (Peter had told Shadow they'd be back the next weekend), then the pets wouldn't have left the ranch and the plot would never have kicked off.
- Peter called to tell Shadow that they'll see them in two weeks. But as shown in the televised version, the stepdad tells the kids they are unable to visit them on that day either because of another commitment.
- Rousing Speech: Chance gives Shadow this to get him to climb out of a pit.
- With a little bit of What the Hell, Hero? at the beginning.
Chance: [to Shadow] You pushed me this far, now I'm pushing you the rest of the way! You know, back in the woods, even when things looked really bad, I always thought we'd make it because I thought you were too stubborn to quit! Well, you're not going to quit, not now, not when we're this close!
- Scenery Porn: You get to see just how beautiful the Sierra Nevada Mountains are as the pets make their way home.
- Shout Out: During Chance's brashly scaring off bear cubs in order to grab the fish, he makes this quip towards the cubs:
Chance: Buzz off, ya party crashers! Go steal some porridge!
- Also, Sassy when sneaking through the Pound to break Chance and Shadow loose (heck, pretty much ALL the pound scenes to that point) has the theme song for Mission Impossible playing in the background.
- Smelly Skunk: Chance got inflicted with this trope during their journey home.
- That Poor Cat: Invoked when Kate accidentially stepped on Sassy's tail during the chaotic attempt at feeding Chance.
- Throw It In: Chance running full throttle into a sapling and then keeping on running (specifically the part where Chance implies that Sassy is fat when rushing off for breakfast) was done completely by accident by the dog actor. They thought it was somewhat hilarious, so they kept it in. Similarly, Michael J. Fox and Sally Field adlibbed the lines right after Chance ran into the tree.
- Similarly, Chance stumbling when running through a field was given a humorous line. "Whoa! Gopher hole!"
- Shadow, Chance and Sassy Come Home
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Chance and Sassy. The two practically never stop bickering and complaining about each other, but when push comes to shove, they try as hard as anyone else to help the other out.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Briefly shown with Chance when he vomits up the Seavors' wedding cake and panning towards the Seavor children's disgusted reactions, with Jamie's reaction in particular indicating that the cake hadn't even been fully digested yet due to his immediately recognizing the contents. Justified, as dogs do not handle cake well.
Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco
- Big Damn Heroes: Chance gets one near the end.
- Chekhov's Gun: Just like in the first movie, Chance pulls a prank on Sassy at the beginning of the movie (this time by trapping her in a play-cylinder and pushing it into garbage cans) before rushing off to Jamie's baseball game (and unintentionally ruining it). Chance later does something very similar near the end, this time against Ashcan and Pete to defeat them for good, and at a construction site.
- Deadpan Snarker: Chance and Sassy frequently try to out-quip each other.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The co-driver of the Blood Red Van, when Riley's gang, Shadow, and Sassy sit right in the path of the Blood Red Van after they captured Chance., was reluctant to run over them, despite his boss telling him to "show 'em who's boss!"
- In this case, there's a bit of Pragmatic Villainy to it as well, since his main motivator was thinking they could capture all of them alive to bring in a lot of money as he told his boss. The boss was having none of it, though.
- Fantastic Slur: Riley and his gang use the word "pet" to describe cats and dogs who have owners.
Riley: The dude's a pet!
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Spike was T.J. Detweiler
- Heroic BSOD: Chance didn't take Delilah's I Did What I Had to Do speech well.
- Humans Are Bastards: Not only did a spoiled fat boy not want Riley (when he was a puppy), but his parents left him in the streets rather than take him back to the pet store they bought him from.
- Did anyone else notice that Jamie, who was the sweetest, cutest little lump of "boy-and-his-dog" adorable ever in the first movie, just seems to hate Chance and everything about him in this one? He gets better, of course, but only after he thinks Chance has been hit by a semi.
- Actually, it wasn't just Chance, he also hated the fact that he had to go to Canada with his family and miss baseball, and was also insulting of his family as well. However, after Chance got lost, he apparently regretted it.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Delilah, realizing they can't be together, tells Chance he doesn't belong, calls him a pet, and goes back to her boyfriend. She immediately regrets it after seeing Chance all heartbroken. Riley even said the same thing and tells her its not gonna work out because of their different upbringings, but it doesn't make Delilah feel any better.
- Insult Backfire:
Sassy: Canines, the feline's still hungry!
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Blood Red Van.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Chance got them lost, but he "justifies" it because he believed that their family was sending them to "the bad place".
Chance: Oh, so this is my fault? I just saved us from the bad place!
- Oh, No, Not Again: Chance is understandably reluctant about making another long journey home.
"You remember what happened before? Huge mountains, stinky skunks, porcupines — not me, pops!"
- Older and Wiser: Chance... kind of. He also still has the scars from where he got nailed by a porcupine in the first movie.
- He now knows that the "squirrel having a bad hair day" is a porcupine.
- The Other Darrin: Following Don Ameche's passing (the first Homeward Bound was his second-last film role), Shadow was voiced in the sequel by Ralph Waite.
- Not to mention at least some (if not all) of the animals were recast. Less obvious, but Chance's spots were a different color.
- Parental Bonus:
Sassy: Chance, you put the bull in bulldog.
The original novel contains examples of:
- Animal Jingoism: Played with — Tao and Bodger both hate cats, and due to this are best friends, having bonded during Bodger's younger years by terrorizing and dominating the neighborhood kitties.
- Cool Old Guy: Bodger.
- Nameless Narrative: Close enough to count; they're referred to by ages, breeds, and species by the narrator when their owners aren't around, which is most of the story.
- Noble Savage: A Native tribe takes a half-starved Bodger and Tao to be spirits giving them a test, and are nice to them in order to bring good fortune.