What is it about a boy and his dog that we find so appealing? Once again, the simple bonding between a young man and a faithful stray is the basis for another story of courage and adventure in ``Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog.''
Set in today's Pacific Northwest, a young teen by the name of Angus (Jesse Bradford) falls for a lovable mutt that wanders on to the property one day. With a combination of manners, rambunctiousness and loyalty, the dog soon works his way into the family's hearts. Thus, when father and son take to the sea to deliver some supplies down the coast, Yellow Dog comes along.
An unexpected storm capsizes the modest craft, leaving Angus and Yellow to fare for themselves until help comes. Well versed in survival practices, the pair manage quite well for the first few days after reaching shore. But when the rescue party fails to materialize after many days, the choice is made to strike out on their own for home. The resulting trip is a grueling and tiring trek; laden with confrontation and disappointment.
Writer/director Phillip Borsos has an easy style that tells his story economically. He touches on a lot of bases; covering family life, young love, wilderness adventure and the power of nature. Despite his capable hand, his story seems like a hodge-podge of scenes from past films. The basic premise draws direct comparisons to Disney's ``Old Yeller'', while the numerous adventures are distilled from any number of similar stories.
The oddest thing about the film is the way in which the high points, ie. thrills, repeatedly build to a peak without any resolution. Dangers faced appear and disappear without any real purpose other than to provide something for the advertisers to put in their commercials.
This makes the film tame enough for kids (PG rating), but leaves the story drawn out and unexplained at times. If it weren't for the praiseworthy values embodied by the family's struggle and the rugged beauty of Canada's British Columbia coast, this would be a real snoozer for adults.
Bruce Davison and Mimi Rogers offer great support as the refreshingly wholesome, loving parents: a dad who actually spends time teaching his boys crafts, and a mom who displays strength and intelligence without being a corporate business woman.
At under an hour and a half, this should be a good matinee film for children. Teens will probably find little to cheer about in the action department as the dangers are quite tame, but hopefully they will find the old-fashioned life depicted a pleasant change from the gang-banging culture so prevalent in contemporary stories. It will definitely remind parents of another age.