A Dog’s Purpose is directed by Lasse Hallstrom and the premise, for what it’s worth, is shockingly complex for a family film: a single dog (voiced by a superb Josh Gad) searches for his purpose in life, throughout a course of several lifetimes and a handful of owners.
The audience is privy to five of the canine’s lives. The first is cruel, and terminates in an unceremoniously short trip to the pound, setting the film off in a strange, off-kilter tone before returning for what is easily the film’s most frustratingly lengthy segments as young pup named Bailey. Bailey is a darling retriever, after enduring a small amount of trauma at the hands of some cartoonish greedy garbage men, finds himself in the arms of a boy, named Ethan (played at different stages in his life by Bryce Gheisar, K.J. Apa and Dennis Quaid), and every scene with the dog is adorable, with the notable addition of more than a few poop jokes. However, inevitably, life intervenes. There’s a stern and alcoholic father, a pathetic and destructive bully and a calamitous accident that displaces Bailey and changes the course of his owner’s life forever.
If you think that sounds layered or intriguing, I promise you, it’s not. For all the film’s investment in “purpose” and humanity, A Dog’s Purpose seems completely uninterested in either. The script, which is performed largely by Gad in his various doggy incarnations, is woefully dull and unrelentingly immature despite his best efforts. Bailey’s resigned admission that “being alone might be the worst thing to happen to you”, repeated throughout the movie is meant to be hard-hitting and emotional, but becomes tiresome really quickly.
From what I hear, Lasse Hallstrom is an incredibly talented director: he’s the man behind The Cider House Rules, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and My Life as a Dog, and he certainly knows how to craft a smart and complex narrative landscape bolstered with compelling visuals. However, A Dog’s Purpose isn’t just flat on story, it can also be exasperatingly difficult to watch, particularly in the first act in which Hallstrom plays with bouncy dog point-of-view, resulting in a theatrical experience that would more likely induce vomiting. But when the film is touching, it’s really touching – in terms of puppy tear-jerking.
Ultimately, the film’s quality isn’t there, a boring story, poor acting and bad directing makes me not recommend A Dog’s Purpose, it’s certainly not the worst film you’ll see this year, but it’s one I’m willing to bet you won’t remember by the end of it.
Well that’s my two cents on the film A Dog’s Purpose, please let me know what you think of the film down below and as always, I am Mr Moody and it’s been my pleasure to serve you.