A graceful, intelligent family film that does its formula proud.Is it worth $10? Yes Growing up, I saw...
Sappy children’s drama made to get people to cry over cute dogs is notably cloying and manipulative.
Is it worth $10? No
“A Dog’s Purpose” has a terrible start and gets worse from there. A red retriever runs away from the pound and is caught by two irresponsible day laborers. It’s a hot summer day. They leave the dog in the truck, windows rolled up, as they go inside to get horribly drunk. Expectedly, the hot dog begins panting. It’s the 1950s. A mother (Juliet Rylance) and her son Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) soon pass by, and seeing the dog in discomfort, proceed to break the window, take the dog out and bring the canine home with them.
Some will view this as a righteous move to help a poor animal. Others (like me) note that they didn’t even try to find the truck owners, broke into and destroyed personal property, then stole the dog. That’s illegal!
All this dog drama doesn’t even get into the human storylines, which are never interesting. None of the four vignettes – in which the dog’s soul comes back as another breed and bonds with humans – are substantial on their own terms. Did Ethan’s dad (Luke Kirby) have to be a drunk? It serves no purpose to the story. Why does Carlos (John Ortiz) live alone? We don’t spend enough time with him to find out. Will Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) ever find love? Sure, if she’ll get out of her own pigheaded way. These scenarios don’t evoke sympathy so much as groaning frustration.
“A Dog’s Purpose” is a pandering, scheming, unfortunate movie. Sure, dog lovers will find plenty of cuteness to enjoy. Other dog lovers will have seen the controversial video on social media featuring an animal handler forcing a German Shepherd into rough water to film a scene and boycott the movie. They should consider themselves fortunate. While the details of that event are in dispute, this is not: The movie is cloying, far-fetched and flat-out bad. Be a good human and play with your dog during the two hours you’d be watching this – it’s guaranteed to make you happier.
Did you know?
Due to the release of the aforementioned video, Universal Pictures canceled the Jan. 19 world premiere in Los Angeles, as well as the press junket.