A dog’s purpose in this movie is to distract you from the controversy.
Josh Gad provides the voice of Bailey – a dog in the middle of an
existential crisis. He wants to understand why he exists, what his
purpose is on this planet, and when will he get another chance to eat
After a shorter life (which doesn’t seem to add anything to the
movie, so why waste time on it?), he ends up being the family dog and
becomes best friends with an 8-year old boy, Ethan (Bryce Gheisar).
Over the years, we see them face trials, tribulations, true love and
more together as best buddies.
Then, Bailey moves on to other lives and starts to understand his place, but will he ever find Ethan again?
Director Lasse Hallstrom is pulling every trick out of the book to get
the audience misty eyed, and succeeds more often than not, but A Dog’s Purpose is a cotton candy, feel good movie with twists and turns that are too convenient and too neat and tidy.
The whole story featuring Ethan and Bailey is the primary plot of A Dog’s Purpose
and the five person writing team should have stuck to it. The idea that
Bailey’s spirit is moving from dog to dog is a very hippie
Hollywood idea, but it feels forced as each of the other stories is so
short and void of any real meaning and depth. They are time killers
until we get back to the main Bailey-Ethan relationship.
Hallstrom fills the movie with all sorts of goofy, slapstick-style
humor to keep kids giggling, but the subject matter seems too much for
kids not in their teens. Good luck to the parent who has to explain to
their child why Bailey feels so tired and has to visit the vet for the
However, Gad deserves some credit for providing such an emotional,
touching vocal performance as Bailey. He knows when to give the dog the
right amount of fear, naivete and love the way a true vocal artist
should. The whole movie would have been a failure if he and Hallstrom
decided to fill Bailey with sarcasm and attitude. Instead, the earnest
take on Bailey feels perfect.
Many of you have heard about the controversy by now (where an on set
video makes it look like the handlers were forcing a dog to engage in a
dangerous stunt when the dog was trying to get away), and it is very
difficult not to remember those scenes as the movie plays on the big
screen. Search your own feelings and beliefs about whether or not you
can support the movie after that.
A Dog’s Purpose is a close miss, but a miss nonetheless.
A Dog's Purpose is rated PG for
thematic elements and some peril.