There has been quite a bit of negative press this past week in regards to a video leak showing one of the dogs in “A Dog’s Purpose” being forced to performing a stunt, even though it was clearly terrified. I absolutely love dogs (and ferrets for that matter). I never want to see an animal mistreated. I am keeping my feelings about what I saw in that footage out of this review, but I will say this….I feel the edited video leaves out the complete story. I also feel that video does not show enough to boycott the entire film. If you decide to see “A Dog’s Purpose”, you will understand why.
Based on the novel by Audrey Wells, “A Dog’s Purpose” takes you through the multiple lives of a reincarnated dog (voiced by Josh Gad). We are taken through four different time periods as Bailey (the very first name he was given) and lives completely different lives as a different breed and gender. We first meet Bailey as a Golden Retriever at the time of his birth. He is soon taken in by Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) and his parents. The young boy and his dog become the best of friends, and when Ethan becomes a teenager (K.J. Apa) the two remain inseparable. Bailey even assists in helping Ethan meet his true love, Hannah (Britt Robertson).
Bailey does get older and eventually passes on. However when that happens, he is reincarnated into a female German Sheppard and trained to be a police dog. The dog’s new life with his master and police partner Carlos (John Ortiz) is much different than the one he had before, but K-9’s life is cut much shorter due to a tragic incident.
Bailey is born again and adopted by Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), a young woman who spends all her time studying instead of putting herself out there and making friends. Much like Bailey’s previous life, his owner is a lonely one. That changes however when Maya begins to date Al (Pooch Hall) and the two fall in love. They also start a family. Bailey also has his own love interest, which happens to be Al’s Saint Bernard, which is about 3x’s the size of Bailey.
Eventually Bailey passes on and is born again into the life where he finally discovers his true purpose. When he is reunited with his original owner, Ethan (Dennis Quaid), he makes it his mission to make the man he loved as a boy happy again.
Director Lasse Hallström clearly loves dogs. If you have ever seen 2009’s “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, you know what I am talking about. Although I feel “Hachi” is a superior film, “A Dog’s Purpose” is very sweet and celebrates the life of man’s best friend and how the love of a dog can change a person’s life. If you have a soft spot for “boy or girl and their dog” films, then I can’t imagine you not enjoying “A Dog’s Purpose”.
By: Marc Ferman