A Dog’s Purpose gets the cone of shame


With all the hype and controversy surrounding A Dog’s Purpose, the movie could have gone any way, from being the best typical Hollywood dog movie you’ve ever seen, to the worst movie to ever exist. A Dog’s Purpose finds a spot somewhere in between.

The movie is based on W. Bruce Cameron’s best-selling novel of the same title, which was published in 2010. In both the book and movie, we follow the many reincarnated lives of a dog, Bailey, trying to find its purpose in life with each new owner. The story’s leading human is the dog’s “favorite person,” a young boy named Ethan. We watch the boy grow up with his beloved dog, and after spending some time with that, we then move on to seeing our protagonist take on new owners and jobs.

The movie takes the basic points each individual life Bailey has, but overall doesn’t spend very much time on the ones that aren’t vital to the initial story with the boy. While it can be understood why they didn’t spend as much time on the other lives as the book did, the way they carried out shortening it was terrible. Somewhat awkwardly, we jump from one life to another, with brief scenes in between to show that the previous one has ended.

After hearing about the controversy over boycotting the film, I was skeptical about watching it. TMZ released a video last week of a trainer forcing one of the dogs into rushing water for a rescue scene, while the dog very obviously did not want to do the stunt. At one point the dog even went underwater and had to be frantically pulled out. This caused animal lovers all over the country to speak out against the movie, leading to an investigation of the handlers who had worked on set. Many called for a boycott, but despite all this, it seemed as though it barely made a dent in people’s excitement to see the film. And though it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the film, I couldn’t suppress a sour face when thinking about how the dog felt during the rescue scene used in the film.

The movie was a painfully long two hours, full of a lot of minorly cute dog moments, somewhat teary encounters and some cheesy acting that didn’t really add anything to the movie. The most disappointing part of the movie, though, wasn’t the fact that it was badly put together or even the bad acting. What was most disappointing was the fact that Hollywood took a great story and well-written book and turned it into something that looks like just another generic, plastic Hollywood film made because they thought it would make a decent amount of money.

The movie’s director, Lasse Hallström, has a history of very successful cheesy movies with a group of stellar actors, including Dear John (2010) and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009). A Dog’s Purpose is no exception, holding a cast of amazing actors with some not-so-good roles. This includes Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, John Ortiz and Peggy Lipton who all held their roles well. The other more minor actors didn’t, though, and with Josh Gad’s voice serving as the voice of Bailey in my ears, the whole experience was enough to make me feel a little queasy.

Personally, if I hadn’t been somewhat peer pressured into going to see the movie, I would have passed. While it was fun to see the dogs run around being their cute selves, I got nothing out of the movie itself. So if you’re looking for a movie to waste your money on, go right ahead, but if you want a movie really worthwhile your time, I would steer clear of A Dog’s Purpose and instead turn to your phone for some cute dog videos.