Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is a 1993 American adventure comedy film and a remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey, which was based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Sheila Burnford. Directed by Duwayne Dunham in his feature film directorial debut[2] and featuring the voice talent of Michael J. Fox, Sally Field and Don Ameche, it was released on February 3, 1993. It grossed $57 million worldwide and was followed in 1996 by the sequel Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. This film is dedicated to producer Franklin R. Levy, who died during production of the film, and Ben Ami Agmon, and it also marked the final film released during Don Ameche's lifetime.

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDuwayne Dunham
Screenplay byCaroline Thompson
Linda Woolverton
Jonathan Roberts (uncredited)
Based onThe Incredible Journey
by Sheila Burnford
Produced byJeffrey Chernov
Franklin R. Levy
CinematographyReed Smoot
Edited byJonathan P. Shaw
Music byBruce Broughton
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
February 3, 1993 (1993-02-03)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$57 million[1]


Chance, a selfish and free-spirited American Bulldog or pit bull and the narrator of the film, explains that he is the pet of Jamie Burnford, but expresses no interest in his owner or being part of a family. He shares his home with Shadow, a wise old Golden Retriever owned by Jamie's brother Peter, and Sassy, a pampered Himalayan cat owned by Peter and Jamie's sister Hope. That morning, the children's mother, Laura Burnford, marries Bob Seaver, and Chance causes trouble by devouring the wedding cake in front of all the guests.

Shortly after the wedding, the family has to temporarily move to San Francisco because Bob must relocate there for his job. They leave the pets at a ranch belonging to Kate, Laura's college friend. Shadow and Sassy miss their owners immediately, but Chance sees it as an opportunity to relax and be free. Later in the week, Kate goes on a cattle drive, leaving the animals to be looked after by her neighbor Frank. However, half of her message to him is lost, leading him to believe that she has taken them along, leaving the animals alone. Unsure about the disappearance of their host, the animals fear they have been abandoned. Shadow, refusing to believe that his boy would leave him, decides to make his way home. Not wanting to be left alone on the ranch, Chance and Sassy decide to accompany Shadow on his journey.

They head into the rocky, mountainous wilderness of the Sierra Nevada with Shadow leading. After a night spent in fear of the woodland noises, the group stops to catch breakfast at a river. However, two black bear cubs interrupt Chance and a large brown bear causes the group to retreat. At another river, Sassy refuses to swim across to follow the dogs and instead tries to cross via a wooden path further downstream; halfway across, the wood breaks and she falls into the river. Shadow tries to save her, but she goes over a waterfall to her apparent death. Guilt-ridden, Shadow and Chance go on without her. Unknown to them, Sassy survives and is later found on the riverbank by an old man named Quentin, who nurses her back to health.

Over the next two days, Shadow and Chance try unsuccessfully to catch food and encounter a mountain lion, which chases them to the edge of a cliff. Shadow gets an idea to use rocks positioned like a seesaw as a way to outsmart the mountain lion. While Shadow acts as bait, Chance pounces onto the end of the rock and sends the mountain lion over the cliff and into a river. Sassy hears the dogs barking in celebration and follows the sound to rejoin them.

The animals continue on their way, but Chance begins pestering a porcupine, ending up with a load of quills in his muzzle. The animals then encounter a little girl named Molly, who is lost in the woods. Loyalty instinct takes over and they stand guard over her during the night. In the morning, Shadow finds a rescue party and leads them back to the girl. They recognize the animals from a missing pets flyer and take them to the local animal shelter, but Chance mistakes it for an animal pound and the trio panic. As the medical staff remove the quills from Chance's muzzle, Sassy sneaks in and frees Shadow. Together, they retrieve Chance and escape the shelter, unaware that their owners are on their way to get them.

Finally reaching their hometown, the animals cross through a train yard, where Shadow falls into a muddy pit and injures his leg. Despondent, he tells Chance and Sassy to go on without him, and when Chance argues passionately, tells the younger dog he's learned all he needs; "Now all you have to learn is how to say goodbye." Heartbroken, Chance insists he won't let him give up. Near dusk, Chance and Sassy finally make it home and are happily reunited with their owners. Shadow initially fails to appear, but eventually he limps into view and happily comes running home at the sight of Peter. Chance narrates how it was Shadow's belief that brought them home and how the years seemed to lift off of him, making him a puppy again as he reunited with his boy. The film ends with Chance musing about how he truly feels "home" with his family, before happily running into the house at the smell of food.



Filming took place in Oregon in Spring 1991.[2][3] Downtown Portland was used for urban shots in San Francisco and additional scenes were filmed in Joseph, Oregon.[2] The scenes set in the Sierra Nevada mountains were filmed at the Eagle Cap Wilderness area.[2]

The film makes extensive use of animal actors. American Humane certified the film as not harming animals.[4] Animals were largely filmed separately to prevent conflict, and scenes were then cut together to create the illusion of the animals interacting.[4] Stand-in animals were also used for the main characters, with 10 cats playing the role of Sassy.[3]


The film received positive reception.[5] The film holds an 87% aggregate critic approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews, with the consensus stating "Disney's remake of The Incredible Journey successfully replicates, and in some ways improves upon, the simple charms of the original, with its cross-country animal odyssey sure to delight kids."[6] According to movie critic Roger Ebert, the movie is "frankly designed for kids, and yet it has a certain craftsmanship and an undeniable charm, and if you find yourself watching it with a child you may end up liking it almost as much."[7] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.[8]

The film grossed $41,833,324 in the United States and Canada and $15.5 million internationally for a worldwide total of $57.4 million.[9][1]


  1. ^ a b Klady, Leonard (January 3, 1994). "Int'l top 100 earn $8 bil". Variety. p. 1.
  2. ^ a b c d "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey", catalog.afi.com, American Film Institute, retrieved 2024-01-23
  3. ^ a b "Did You Know? 8 Incredible Facts About Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey - D23", D23, Disney, 2018-02-13, archived from the original on 2022-09-28, retrieved 2024-01-23
  4. ^ a b "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey", Humane Hollywood, American Humane, 1992-11-11, archived from the original on 2023-11-11, retrieved 2024-01-23
  5. ^ Thomas, Kevin (February 3, 1993). "Movie Review : Disney's 'Homeward Bound' Remake Better Than Original". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 8 April 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (12 February 1993). "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey Movie Review (1993)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  8. ^ McClintock, Pamela (August 19, 2011). "Why CinemaScore Matters for Box Office". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 19, 2021. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  9. ^ "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 14, 2021.

External links