If you want me to like your film, here are a few simple rules: 1) Don’t kill the dog! 2) Don’t kill the dog in the first two minutes. 3) Don’t kill the dog three more bloody times! It’s not much, but it’s a start. Going into ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ was always going to be tricky. In the months leading up to its release in the U.S. earlier this year, the film was met with some controversy when footage of a stunt involving one of the dogs in distress was leaked. A PR scramble and a rushed “investigation” shut this disaster down with an “everything’s okay” but it still left a bitter taste in the mouths of movie-goers. However, with a half-arsed assurance that it was once again okay to watch the film guilt-free and with my devout love of all things dog-related, I proceeded. As it turns out, it wasn’t an animal welfare issue that was going to send this film down the to the dog house - it was going to do it all on its own by simply being a bad film.
Ethan is the only child of a loving mother and an alcoholic father. When Ethan and his mum rescue a dog from a hot car, they adopt him and call him Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad, ‘Frozen’). The pair become inseparable with Bailey even helping Ethan to get a girlfriend. But 10 years on, Ethan goes off to college, leaving Bailey behind to grow old. Bailey is then reborn as Ellie, a member of the Chicago police K9 unit - until she eventually becomes Tino, and then finally Buddy where everything comes full circle - all the while in each incarnation bringing joy to his/her master’s life and wondering is this the reason they’re there.
With the forced emotional depth of a thin crust pizza and bad, lazy writing which suggests that this book adaptation was doomed from the beginning.
Attempting to appeal to the dog-lovers of the world, ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ fails by ending its efforts at “it’s about dogs”. With the forced emotional depth of a thin crust pizza and bad, lazy writing by not one but five screenwriters which suggests that this book adaptation was doomed from the beginning. Everything just plays as too contrived and the message is a bit preaching-to-the-converted and therefore redundant. I am an absolute tap on the head when it comes to dogs, but not a single tear was shed in the 100 minutes of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’. It wasn’t until the end credits that I realised my lack of salty tears was mimicked by the on-screen characters. How are we, the audience, expected to cry when the people in the damn movie don’t either!?
It’s a film about beautiful dogs being beautiful companions, and it didn’t work. How is this possible?