‘A Dog’s Purpose’ fetches insane praise – a true “good boy” movie


Movie poster courtesy of youtube.com and used under fair use.

Man’s best friend isn’t usually associated with a topic as controversial as reincarnation. However, the two beautiful, and somewhat tragic, motifs blend together in telling the tale of a single fluffy soul over several lifetimes. Tear-jerking dog movies can never again be viewed the same after the anticipated release of “A Dog’s Purpose” on Jan. 19.

Based off the nearly five-star novel written by W. Bruce Cameron, the film has gathered some attention, although not entirely positive. The film’s most recent publicity has been intense criticism for suspected animal cruelty during production. Outrage erupted over leaked footage portraying attempts to force a German Shepherd into rushing water. The scheduled premiere was cancelled as the troubling incident was reviewed. While announcing the cancellation, “Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals,” as stated the two producing companies.

It’s difficult to believe a story highlighting the special bond between dogs and their owners could be linked to animal abuse, even with similarly saddening acts present in the main plotline.

The movie follows the spirit of a dog, initially named Bailey, who finds himself in the form of a new puppy each time he dies. This concept explains itself in the movie trailer and clearly warns viewers that in order for the pup to find an owner in need of its assistance, an old dog must leave its original owner before it can move on. No one can prepare themselves to watch characters’ hearts break as their devoted pet is euthanized. Even scenes of yipping puppies won’t immediately dry the tears rushing down a pet lover’s face in the audience.

Bailey’s life is an emotional rollercoaster narrated by corny, curious-sounding commentary attempting to be philosophical, or rather Josh Gad’s voice inside the head of multiple furry friends. The majority of the plot encompasses Bailey’s time with his owner Ethan, from the time he was eight years old (Bryce Gheisar), well into his teen years (K.J. Apa). Through ups and downs, his time with Ethan demonstrates how important animals can be to people and how important their bond is. This notion is furthered by the people Bailey comes in contact with, whether in the form of a noble German Shepherd police dog named Ellie or as Tino, a family’s stocky Corgi. In helping his owners allay the conflicts in their lives, Bailey eventually discovers his purpose through companionship and teaching.

The concept is truly a unique perspective utilized to reassure everyone’s inherent purpose. Constantly witnessing beloved pets being put down distracts viewers from the powerful message the film was built on. When watching the loyalty and affection blossom between Bailey and his owners, the plot evolves extraordinarily by the depiction of what happens when it’s time for the dog to move one. Flawlessly, “A Dog’s Purpose”  balances the harsh reality of death with the ebullience found in life.