I honestly can’t think of a family oriented movie that has had as much controversy surrounding it as A Dog’s Purpose in my lifetime. PETA, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has encouraged that the movie be banned. This because of the release of a video weeks prior to the release of this movie. That video was publicized on the tabloid television show, TMZ.
Numerous individuals have come out in support of the movie with explanations of the video, the most recent, one of the stars in the movie, Dennis Quaid. Also in defense of the movie, with a detailed explanation of what happened was by Gavin Palone, the film’s producer. He goes into detail including his own culpability in an article published on January 23, 2017, in The Hollywood Reporter.
My family has always had pets and considered them, as almost family members. They are family members important to our family but not held on the same level as humans. We have been loving and nurturing to our pets including a cat that lived to be 27, and several large breed dogs that have lived to 15 or more.
The movie, A Dog’s Purpose, is based on a best-selling book by the same title written by W. Bruce Cameron. It is a story in that tells the story of a dog, and his spirit through the eyes of the dog Bailey. We see Bailey through the eyes of numerous dogs after Bailey dies. We see his spirit reenter other dogs at their birth with an ongoing understanding of his past lives. One could say it resembles concepts of reincarnation, except through the eyes of a dog. Bailey lives in various forms, breeds, and various sexes. Bailey narrates the story through several short story concepts, all maintaining the primary character of Bailey. Josh Gad does the voice of Bailey, and while he does a good job, there were times I got tired of the actor’s voice.
A Dog’s Purpose, despite its short story concepts all holds together. The movie flows nicely although it is a little boring for the first third of the movie. It is near the conclusion of Bailey’s life with a young Ethan, played by K.J. Apa that the story picks up emotional ground. We see some good character development for Ethan, Baily’s owner and his girlfriend Hannah, played by Britt Robertson and his parents and the turmoil of the family during Ethan’s teen years. From this point on, for roughly half of the movie, we pick up some serious steam, and the viewer, especially if they have had pets, better have a handful of Kleenex available.
The respect A Dog’s Purpose gives to the importance and life of dogs is moving. For those watching the movie, they will reflect about their pets that have passed on. During my screening, for the last half of the movie, it was not unusual to hear weeping among not only from adults but also children. If the emotional pulls of the movie had only been solicited to end in a sad story, with sad events, and for the sakes of pulling on those tear strings, I would blast the movie. There are however, moments, especially the ending of the story that the entirety of the movie, all of the short stories in the movie come together It is here in the conclusion of the film that we get Bailey’s response to the question he has been asking his entire life, “What is, A Dog’s Purpose?” Bailey not only has his answer, but the viewer gets their answer, and the direction by Lasse Hallstrom all comes together.
In these lessons there is a concept of metaphor that we can all relate to, what is our purpose, what have we accomplished, how does one moment of our life impact the other? While it is possible some Christians will have issues with the concepts of reincarnation, I understood that is in the life of the animal, not necessarily in the life of the humans in the story. I also believe it is possible to overlook this aspect in the movie and find meaningful and spiritual purpose.
This movie is not a great movie, it is, however, a very good movie that I loved by the end, and will admit, needed more than a couple of Kleenex. I most certainly reflected on how God can bring life to people in so many ways and about how dogs, or pets in general, can be a tool of God to help us in our own conclusions about life. In the end, while this movie won’t win any awards, it will help many people and could help many pets via adoption.
I encourage the reader to look up and read the article in the Hollywood reporter referenced earlier. You will see a filmmaker share what really happened.
Now while this movie is not for the super tough macho thrill seeking guy, I will say, if that guy has ever had a dog, he will stay until the end of the credits to make sure his own bloodshot eyes clear up. Then, after seeing it and getting home, will want to love on his dog. For those who don’t now have a dog but may have had one in the past, it may do something else, encourage you to go to a local shelter and adopt one. Now for me, I will conclude with this, regarding this movie, for the letters in the words, “cry baby,” I give a heartfelt, wet Kleenex on a scale of 1 – 10, 7.
A Dog’s Purpose opens January 27, 2017 in theaters everywhere.
Feature photo credit: www.adogspurposemovie.com