Thursday, February 23, 2017

Movie Review #572: "A Dog's Purpose" (2017)

Director: Lasse Hallström
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
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A dog lives out many lives with many different owners in search of his purpose.

"A Dog's Purpose" is directed by Lasse Hallström, who is known for films like "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," "Chocolat," and "Hachi: A Dog's Tale." It is based on the novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron. It stars Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton, K.J. Apa, Britt Robertson, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and John Ortiz. The film revolves around the many lives of a dog as he is reincarnated over and over, living his life repeatedly through many different owners in search of the meaning of his life and in order to find his purpose.

Now, we do have to address the controversy surrounding this movie. A couple weeks prior to its release, TMZ posted an edited 18-month-old clip that showed a scared German Shepherd trying to be coaxed into a pool of water for a stunt during the making of this film. However, an investigation was done, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, "An independent animal cruelty expert had concluded that safety measures on the set of the film were in place and the video had been deliberately edited to mislead the public."

Back to judging the movie on its own merits. The guy who wrote the book this movie is based on must have thought to himself, "remember how sad it was when the dog died in "Marley and Me"? Remember when they shot "Old Yeller"? What if we do that over and over and over again, then it will be that much more heartbreaking!" To an extent, it is. Watching a dog die with a sad voice-over narration explaining multiple times what happens when a dog's life ends is truly heartbreaking, especially for anyone who has a fondness for K-9 critters, which we do. The first 4 minutes alone are enough to send the strongest person blubbering like a baby in a heart-wrenching opener we did not expect. It is a little manipulative to illicit such a response considering they are literally killing off dogs to get these tears forced out of its audience, but we digress. That's the kind of manipulation you are in for, especially if you love dogs or have dogs, which would probably be the only reason you would watch this movie at all.

Overall, as far as the story goes, "A Dog's Purpose" is very basic, a walking cliche of the utmost proportions. The entire plot is cute schlock that is completely schmaltzy and, as we said, manipulative. The bulk of the story focuses on the dog's life when he's named Bailey, and shows his relationship with a boy named Ethan, played by three different actors through the course of his life, Bryce Gheisar at age 8, K.J. Apa in his teen years, and Dennis Quaid as an older, much more hardened by life adult. There are many other romantic subplots between human characters that regularly run through many segments that get very cheesy and very eyeroll-inducing, but we really expected no less judging by the trailers. We also see how some dog owners shouldn't be dog owners. There are a couple of instances where dogs aren't treated right, which reminds us that we need to adopt 5 or 6 more dogs so our hearts are full.

We would be lying if we said we didn't cry at "A Dog's Purpose," but those tears never felt honest. They are ones that remind us of what it's like to lose a pet, something we have both experienced and will likely experience again being the owners of two dogs of our own. In fact, Lolo may be crying right now at the very prospect of this thought. We both love dogs so much that to see them mistreated by someone even in a disingenuous movie like this is hard as hell to see play out on screen. It was unfortunate this movie got broadsided with a trumped up controversy because the final product wasn't really worth the bad press, it could have accomplished this on its own with its tired story. Overall, this is a rather mediocre, super cheesy film, but nothing so earth-shatteringly bad, you'll hate yourself for sitting through it.


My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 34%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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2 comments:

  1. i saw the movie!!!! so gooooooooooooooood!!!!

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