Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
An Americanized, carefully encoded and highly sentimental version of British writer Shelia Burnford's novel about the headstrong trio of two dogs and a cat that are determined to find their way back to their home and owners after being placed on vacation at a desolate farm. If you read my three initial arguments as negative criticism, I would counter that even though these are issues that are normally (at least in newer times) associated with failures, it doesn't necessarily mean these cannot constitute valuable aspects in filmmaking. Most of all, even though this is a film soaked in sentimentality, it is an irresistible kind of sentimentality - aimed at children (and people who used to be children), but delivering all the good stuff with inspiration and dignity. The technical aspect - concerning how the filmmakers make these animals come alive, how they have tailed them, studied them and captured them on film - is a remarkable and completely astounding achievement. Director Dunham never (except for a scene which owes a bit too much to the John Hughes/Chris Colombus team) makes his animal action seem scripted, and he narrates wonderfully with his camera - something that will be more apparent to viewers who have tried watching the film with the sound off.
The added human dialogue by the trio Fox, Field and Ameche gives the film an everyday (if somewhat trivial) charm that makes it easy for children to relate to these animals as ambiguous beings: they are given spirited human personalities while retaining their animal manners. Sure, their characters are simple, but The Incredible Journey remains a mesmerizing experience from start to finish - an American film in all its heart and soul, rooted in the essence of The Wizard of Oz and delivering fun from start to finish for young and old.