Sitting through A Dog’s Purpose, I felt one major thing…manipulated.
I mean…how many times do you have to kill that poor dog?
In what was intended to be a heartfelt and loving connection between human and dog turned out to be not much more than an empty attempt to prey upon the emotions of dog lovers everywhere with little else in the story.
Add to that the fact that the potentially best part of the story was completely spoiled by the trailers that it lost all of its wallop. The idea that Bailey (the dog) was being reincarnated again and again only to find his original owner Ethan (played in three generations by Bryce Gheisar, K.J. Apa and Dennis Quaid) was revealed in the trailer that has been airing for the last six months (or so it seemed). We see all of the important scenes with Dennis Quaid in that trailer making everything that happened at the end of this movie…1. boring since we knew it already and 2. spoiled. The film does take time to build the relationship between Ethan and Bailey and more of a surprise reunion might have been more emotionally enjoyable.
And…how many times did they have to kill that dog? The reason I keep going back to that is that since we knew that Bailey would wind up back with Ethan from the trailer, these middle stories all felt unimportant and carried little weight for the movie as a whole. It was just an excuse to try and get the audience to cry over the death of this dog that we knew would be coming back to life anyway. As I said, manipulative.
There are some entertaining moments in the film, but there is just little substance to any of it. Josh Gad provided the narration of Bailey’s (and other dog’s) thoughts in the different reincarnations and, apparently, can remember across those timelines. Gad has some good lines, but delivers most of his dialogue in a flat tone.
Another problem was the rules of what the dog could understand was inconsistent. Sometimes the dog did not know what the humans were talking about and the other times the dog knew exactly what they were talking about. The reason??? You know, plot. This is played several times for just humor but I did notice the inconsistency several times.
There is also a ridiculously sacchariny story involving Ethan and a high school sweetheart (first played by Britt Robinson and later by Twin Peaks’ Norma, Peggy Lipton) that turns out predictably and unrealistically. Nothing that a reincarnated dog couldn’t pull off, though.
Without taking the controversy of the animal abuse from the set into account, A Dog’s Purpose was a substandard, manipulative tearjerker that probably will hit some emotional chords to dog lovers. When you add in the reported abuse caught on camera of the German Shepard being forced into the water for a stunt despite clearly being afraid to do it, A Dog’s Life becomes more than manipulative. Instead, it becomes cruel. Look at the TMZ footage yourself if you want to see it, but it clearly shows a dog that does not want to be in that water being forced in. That footage will forever taint this film.
However, I saw the movie before seeing the footage so my review is only of the film. A Dog’s Purpose, which was adapted from a best selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, is too manipulative to stand and the story is too wishy-washy to stomach.