A Dog's Purpose Reviewed By Jarred Tito

The Premise
We first meet our main character, Bailey, as an adorable Golden Retriever puppy who finds his way into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. Bailey and Ethan have countless adventures together, but Bailey’s long life as a beloved family pet is just the beginning of his journey. Reborn as a puppy again, Bailey wonders – will he ever find his purpose? Uplifting, insightful and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog's Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog's life, but also a dog's-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bond between man and man's best friend.

The Review
A moving drama that includes laughs, tension and tears as we follow the forever unfolding reincarnated life of Bailey, ‘man’s best friend’. Dog lovers, kids, young teens, families and time travellers, get ready for the next light, but deep, fantasy drama from director Lasse Hallstrom, who is obviously a lover and studier of canines, our furry friends.

There are several things that come to mind when I think about this film; firstly, how fitting it is that the genre should be categorized as ‘fantasy’ drama because there is plenty of both. Secondly, I am reminded of the film, ‘Frequency’ because this also involved the concept of time travel in a not-so-typical way as did this film (which Dennis Quaid also features in). And finally, on a more comical note, how the director’s name, Lasse, is so close to the classic icon of popular television dogs, Lassie, the Rough Collie heroine that captured the hearts of both parents and children alike. I couldn’t help but see the irony behind the name and the fact that, ‘A Dog’s Purpose’, should be told through a dog’s point of view. The idea of Lassie barking out directions from behind the camera did trot through my mind.

A Dog’s Purpose, is also a clever and entertaining way of showcasing the many ways in which our best friends interact and serve alongside humans with complete loyalty, obedience and love. Though fantasy, it does serve as a reminder of how much we do rely and depend on dogs, in our society, for so much of what we do in life. Admittingly, not everyone is a dog person and not everyone interacts with dogs directly but whether you do or don’t, dogs are always there somewhere in our world having an effect on so many people and places. I enjoyed the way that this film highlighted those many roles; from being a boy’s best friend to a serious working dog and even a baby’s play mate.  Though we can’t be a hundred percent sure of what a dog may be thinking and there is no real science or proof, if you are a dog person or have spent time with dogs, I think you will approve of some of the thoughts and emotions that Baily talks us through.

It was good to see a New Zealand actor, K.J. Apa, originally from Shortland Street, get a start in the film too. He plays the teenage role of Ethan, Baily’s first real owner. I liked his work in the role. He plays the all American high-school heart-throb that is pivotal to the whole man-dog narrative. In this respect, I would also categorize this film as a ‘buddy’ movie. The friendship between the two is timeless and uncompromising. As well as their companionship experiencing the good times and the hard, it also shows the importance of how a dog’s personality and temperament can be conditioned by their human. I enjoyed knowing that Ethan is a good owner but, as in most films things are not always so good for animals when in the wrong hands.

The Verdict
A lovely movie that will move you in some way or another. There are plenty of laughable moments and moments that may cause a tear or two. Tears of sadness and thankfully tears of joy. A great film for the family that has plenty of positives to take away. Possibly a good training film or introduction too for those considering a pet. Animal lovers will obviously find something to enjoy about this. The pace is good with romance and action which adds to the story. Definitely a buddy, friendship movie that will give you food for thought and a feel-good experience.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 4th May 2017
Rating: PG – Contains course language
Duration: 100 minutes 
Genre:  Comedy/Drama
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad and KJ Apa
Director: Lasse Hallstrom (The Hundred-Foot Journey, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)

The Extras
During the Corgi segment of the movie, the missing tail was humorous because Welsh Corgis are born with their tail naturally short or missing. Others may have their tails docked between 2-5 days old due to historical tradition or as a measure of conformation to the Breed Standard.

Bradley Cooper was originally slated to provide the voice of the titular dog; however, he was ultimately replaced with Josh Gad.

Prior to theatrical release, controversy arose when behind-the-scenes footage surfaced and appeared to show a distressed dog being forcibly submerged into turbulent pool water during filming. As a result of the leaked footage, the filmmakers chose to cancel the U.S. premiere. However, it was announced on February 4, 2017 by the American Humane Association that the footage was indeed fake.