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Review: A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose
01.25.2017
5 10

A Dog's Purpose review Lasse Hallstrom Dennis Quaid movie

PLOT: A dog lives several different lifetimes, with several different owners, bringing a measure of happiness to each of them. But what is its true purpose in this world?

REVIEW: "A Dog's Purpose" is, evidently, to kick your heart into submission. As a film, A DOG'S PURPOSE is emotional torture porn, a movie that knows it will absolutely get sympathetic reactions from its audience during crucial moments involving cute canines. Unless that audience hate dogs. If you hate dogs, you very well may cheer the several times a dog dies in this movie, but the rest of us are doomed to be devastated four or five times over.

Not that it's wholly effective. It's hard to judge the film fairly, in that sense. Yes, I got choked up several times. I love dogs and I'm an easy mark for movies where beloved animals die, so A DOG'S PURPOSE easily had me on the ropes throughout. But the critical part of my brain was always thinking about how much of what transpired on screen was manipulative BS; that the story had been engineered in a way to provoke this reaction, and that I was being suckered. When the film concluded, I felt foolish for allowing it to get to me. I guess at the end of the day, A DOG'S PURPOSE is about a battle between the heart and the brain. The heart wins initially - because awww dogs! - but the brain chops the sentiment to pieces immediately after.

A Dog's Purpose review Lasse Hallstrom Dennis Quaid movie

We are introduced to Dog right after he's born. Then, not a few minutes later, Dog is put to sleep. Yes, that's right. They kill a dog a mere two minutes into this movie, I suppose to establish the central idea that even though he'll die, over and over again, Dog is always reborn into a new body. The movie, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, gets very dark fairly often, only to bounce right back into the light again. With a whimsical worldview and boundless curiosity, Dog is voiced by Josh Gad, who shares his thoughts via omnipresent voiceover. Dog (he is, of course, named several different things throughout) has a litany of owners, the most important being a young man named Ethan (K.J. Apa) who he grows up with. The movie is quite sweet in its own routine way for a time, as we watch Ethan take his furry pal everywhere with him - even on dates and to high school football games?! - but the good times end when Ethan goes away to school, leaving Bailey to grow old and die.

We are treated to several scenes where the dog dies. The dog acknowledges it is dying and thinks about its sad human owners. This is not fun stuff, and I can only imagine children being subjected to this dismal scenario (especially if they've already gone through this in real life). The movie rebounds whenever Dog is a puppy again, but after a couple instances of this, a cynical guy like me can't help but think of more morbid questions. Is every dog cursed to live in a cycle of heartbreak and death? Can there be no respite from this cruel sequence of birth, hope, happiness, abandonment, suffering, termination? Is everyone's dog in the middle of living, dying, repeating?!

A Dog's Purpose review Lasse Hallstrom Dennis Quaid movie

No doubt, one isn't supposed to ponder these deeper questions, since for some reason the dog never does either. He remembers his past lives but never really puts any of his gained knowledge to use, nor does he consider his own mortality. (In the world this movie takes place in, a dog remembers only the trivial stuff, not the shattering reality of its infinite existence.) As a "character," the dog doesn't give us much beyond his short-sighted observations and musings. Plenty of PG-friendly talk. Gad's voice, high-pitched and childlike, works in a very elementary way, but there's nothing especially noteworthy about Dog, who often sounds like he's in a dog food commercial. Dog isn't exactly E.T., or even Benji.

When you take away the heartbreaking moments, A DOG'S PURPOSE is a rather corny experience. None of the human drama feels real or compelling; it's all coated in a melodramatic TV Movie atmosphere. The actors do what they can - John Ortiz is good as one of Dog's owners, a cop - but the material is pure schmaltz. And let's face it, no one's here for the humans. The dogs are all good dogs; they play their parts very convincingly, and watching them scamper about is enjoyable... up to a point. I mean, I can go to YouTube for that stuff.

But I'm guilty: I felt feelings during the big emotional moments. Any person who has ever cared for a pet will. The ending is sappy and sweet and gives you the heartstring-tugging denouement this movie deserves. Is any of it earned? Probably not. A DOG'S PURPOSE's structure and attitude are simply too cloying, too transparently calculating. Only how can one ignore the dogs? They're adorable; they even smile for the camera! And then they die. Hard not to feel just a little something during A DOG's PURPOSE, even when you know you're being jerked around.

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:32PM on 01/25/2017
Read the post by a dogs purpose' author. Theirs something very scary and disturbing when people react to something without getting facts and context, people who are boycotting this...you guys scare me
Read the post by a dogs purpose' author. Theirs something very scary and disturbing when people react to something without getting facts and context, people who are boycotting this...you guys scare me
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1:25PM on 01/26/2017
people boycotted ghostbusters because it looked shitty as hell, the trailers were cringe-worthy,
people boycotted ghostbusters because it looked shitty as hell, the trailers were cringe-worthy,
2:38PM on 01/25/2017
Thank you for reviewing this film that everybody will boycott because TMZ released an edited and biased video to make money. When I was 11, I got accused by an old man on the street for "mistreating" my dog after he'd seen me pull his leash a bit roughly. Thing the old man didn't know was that I had been happily walking my dog for over an hour when he'd started sniffing another dog's poop for like 5 minutes after which I started to become a little less patient. Had YouTube been around back then
Thank you for reviewing this film that everybody will boycott because TMZ released an edited and biased video to make money. When I was 11, I got accused by an old man on the street for "mistreating" my dog after he'd seen me pull his leash a bit roughly. Thing the old man didn't know was that I had been happily walking my dog for over an hour when he'd started sniffing another dog's poop for like 5 minutes after which I started to become a little less patient. Had YouTube been around back then I would have been pelted for a second of impatience when I in fact deeply loved this dog.
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3:18PM on 01/25/2017
youre delerious if you dont see the abuse in that video....seriously give your head a shake
youre delerious if you dont see the abuse in that video....seriously give your head a shake
3:41PM on 01/25/2017
Cinnamon eh...guessing thats ure little fluffy hypoallergenic dogs name
Cinnamon eh...guessing thats ure little fluffy hypoallergenic dogs name
11:05AM on 01/27/2017
Abuse is putting drugs in a monkey's eye for testing. It's forcing a chicken to live its entire life in a tiny cage. It's over feeding a goose to make its liver fat and tasty. It's beating a dog so it becomes a good fighter. It's killing kittens for fun and putting it on YouTube...

What we see in this video while certainly not cool for the dog, is not animal abuse. It's a trained dog scared of water and its trainer under high pressure from a multi million dollar production trying his best to
Abuse is putting drugs in a monkey's eye for testing. It's forcing a chicken to live its entire life in a tiny cage. It's over feeding a goose to make its liver fat and tasty. It's beating a dog so it becomes a good fighter. It's killing kittens for fun and putting it on YouTube...

What we see in this video while certainly not cool for the dog, is not animal abuse. It's a trained dog scared of water and its trainer under high pressure from a multi million dollar production trying his best to make things work. The dog probably got lots of love and good food after this.
1:41PM on 01/25/2017
oh yeah and that dog probably makes more money then all of you, maybe thats why u guys are mad, cuz a dog is making movies and money and your jerkin off every 10 minutes in front of your acer.
oh yeah and that dog probably makes more money then all of you, maybe thats why u guys are mad, cuz a dog is making movies and money and your jerkin off every 10 minutes in front of your acer.
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1:39PM on 01/25/2017
ITS JUST A FUCKING DOG, WHO HAD DOZENS OF PEOPLE AROUND HIM, HAVE YOU EVER TRIED GIVING YOUR DOG A BATH BEFORE? DO THEY JUST JUMP IN ALL HAPPY? NO YOU HAVE TO FORCE THE DOG IN. YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME FUCKIN SICK, BUNCH OF LAZY FUCKERS, THEIRS PEOPLE DYING EVERYDAY ALL AROUND YOU AND DECIDE TO CRUICIFY PEOPLE CUZ THEY WERE TRYING TO GET A DOG TO GO IN WATER? GET A LIFE
ITS JUST A FUCKING DOG, WHO HAD DOZENS OF PEOPLE AROUND HIM, HAVE YOU EVER TRIED GIVING YOUR DOG A BATH BEFORE? DO THEY JUST JUMP IN ALL HAPPY? NO YOU HAVE TO FORCE THE DOG IN. YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME FUCKIN SICK, BUNCH OF LAZY FUCKERS, THEIRS PEOPLE DYING EVERYDAY ALL AROUND YOU AND DECIDE TO CRUICIFY PEOPLE CUZ THEY WERE TRYING TO GET A DOG TO GO IN WATER? GET A LIFE
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9:23PM on 01/25/2017
Do you work for Universal or something? Are you getting $ based on how this performs? Likely not, so I don't get why you're so crazy with the damage control here. The video was cruel, your analogies are extremely poor. If you still want to see it, go ahead, but don't judge others for having a different opinion. Grow up.
Do you work for Universal or something? Are you getting $ based on how this performs? Likely not, so I don't get why you're so crazy with the damage control here. The video was cruel, your analogies are extremely poor. If you still want to see it, go ahead, but don't judge others for having a different opinion. Grow up.
12:52PM on 01/25/2017
It's disgusting that when an actor doesn't feel safe while doing a scene, they have stunt doubles or modify it with cgi. When an animal isn't comfortable, they have no choice whatsoever.
It's disgusting that when an actor doesn't feel safe while doing a scene, they have stunt doubles or modify it with cgi. When an animal isn't comfortable, they have no choice whatsoever.
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12:41PM on 01/25/2017

So.....

This is a comedy, right?
This is a comedy, right?
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