It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The 1993 movie "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey" told the story of three pets, two dogs and a cat, who feel they have been abandoned when their human family boards them and goes on a trip to San Francisco. So they escape, and return home across a mountain range, through incredible hardships, while surviving waterfalls and battling mountain lions. It was a pleasant movie and, for what it was, I enjoyed it.
Now comes "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco," in which the human family decides to go on a camping trip, and the animals are stranded in the city. That more or less exhausts the permutations, I think, and I expect "Homeward Bound III" will send both humans and animals to Alcatraz.
The movie uses the human characters only briefly, at the beginning and end of the film. The rest of the time, we see and hear the animals, who are gifted with human voices, and who talk without moving their mouths - by telepathy or ventriloquy, I reckon. The animals are Chance, the frisky youngster (voice by Michael J. Fox); Sassy, the fastidious cat (Sally Field), and Shadow, the wise golden retriever (Ralph Waite replaces the late Don Ameche).
These animals don't just talk. They're chatterboxes. Chance in particular seems to have learned the English language from old Jughead comic books, and says things like, "Dogs rule, cats drool" and "OK, pal - you're toast!" At one point, Chance even steals a Frisbee and uses it to shelter his new girlfriend from the rain, a cognitive feat that is well beyond your average dog. These are not average dogs, however, and after watching them in action for half an hour, I wondered why they didn't simply raise some money by running a game of three-card monte on a street corner, and then taking a taxi home.