**/**** Image B Sound B
starring Bruce Davison, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Bradford, Tom Bower
written and directed by Phillip Borsos
by Walter Chaw Though shot with a nice eye for vistas, Phillip Borsos's ponderously titled Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (hereafter Yellow Dog) is decidedly modest in scope. It's a wilderness fantasy/adventure involving a boy and his dog that follows along so closely to the set-up/pay-off structure that the build up to the inevitable marooning is almost sadistic in its inevitability. Think of every moment dad teaches his boy to build a fire as the children's-movie equivalent of a green foot soldier in a war flick showing a picture of his sweetheart to his buddy right before a big action scene.
Angus (an excellent Jesse Bradford) befriends Yellow Dog (an excellent Dakotah) when Yellow Dog quietly observes Angus declining to murder a rabbit in cold blood. Taught by his dad (Bruce Davison) how to survive in the woods on bugs and a cool head, Angus and Yellow Dog are swept overboard into the wilds of British Columbia, where the two are forced to put Angus's lessons of survival to the test.
Sort of abrupt and perfunctory, the film doesn't seem to have very much to say about anything relating to growing up besides the revelation that at some point it'll seem as cool to kiss a girl as it does to hug a hound. The creepy predatory nature of the little girl in question (Margot Finley) offers a potentially interesting subtext the film, unfortunately, just isn't interested in exploring. Yellow Dog seems mainly fascinated by taking the straight line in its tale of man (and domesticated animal) against nature and the loving photography of said nature, hitting a hiccup now and again in distracting cutaways to grieving parents and, eventually, in the tear-jerking finale made sickening by John Scott's horn- and string-heavy score. Yellow Dog is innocuous stuff, lighter than air and as insubstantial.
Another of Fox's "Family Feature" DVD series, the 1.85:1 anamorphic video transfer displays a disturbing amount of grain as well as some pretty bad shadow detail (especially during a wolf attack)--but daytime scenes demonstrate a nice depth and clarity. The relative picture quality is something that I attribute to the relative newness of the picture (originally released in 1995). The fullscreen video transfer on the opposite side of the flipper is considerably weaker, not only for the cropping of the film's scenery, but also for an appreciable increase in noise and colour weakness. The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack sounds pretty rumbly during its storm sequence, but is mainly given over to Scott's syrupy compositions. Trailers for Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog, Lucas, and Bushwhacked round out the disc. Originally published: March 30, 2003.