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Bound to Like ‘Incredible’ Pets

Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section.

In “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” a family must temporarily leave two dogs and a cat with a friend. When the family doesn’t return, the pets embark on an adventurous journey across the Sierra to get home. (Rated G)

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Anthropomorphic-animal movies just can’t seem to miss.

Almost no one, not even the littlest viewers, thinks animals really talk to each other. But so what? Almost everyone, even the older viewers, thinks it’s fun to pretend.

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Of all the animal movies he has seen, including “All Good Dogs Go to Heaven,” “Beethoven” and “101 Dalmatians,” this was Ryan’s favorite.

Ryan, 6, who has a Labrador retriever at home, laughed at the irreverent antics of Chance, the klutzy young mutt, his favorite character in the movie.

“I liked it when he was chewing up the underwear,” he said. “It was funny when he said to the cat: ‘Hey, you’re a chicken!’ ” Ryan said maybe the best line in the movie was “when he got stung by the porcupine and he said: ‘I got stung by his butt!’ ”

Mindy, 10, sometimes gets to see R-rated movies such as “Pretty Woman,” but she said she didn’t find “Homeward Bound” too schmaltzy. “It was pretty good,” she said.

“It was funny when Shadow tells Chance not to do everything; he goes ahead and does everything anyway,” Mindy said.

Jane, 8, liked Shadow--a wise golden retriever--the best. Even though he was old, she said, “he always made it. Even when he got hurt, he helped everybody.”

Mindy liked Sassy, the cat. “She always had to be pampered, like if she broke a nail, she got upset. It was like she always had to sit on velvet.”

Does she know any characters like that in real life?

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“No, but I know people like Shadow. One kid in my class is kind of like that. It seems like they’re really smart and they always know what to do right.”

One of Mindy’s favorite parts is the sequence in which the dogs conspire to trick a mountain lion and catapult the lion into a river. But she wondered: If dogs and cats can talk to each other, why can’t they talk to the animals they meet in the wilderness? But let’s not quibble. . . .

There were worrisome parts in the film, even though most children said they had faith all would end well. Many were troubled when Sassy fell into a river, sailing over a waterfall, and was given up for lost. They could be heard throughout the theater, asking, “Is she dead?”

Ryan said he knew all along the cat would live, and he calmed a companion who was afraid the cat had died. “I said: ‘No. On the commercial she’s alive.’ And she was alive!”

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