The classic tale of the relationship between a dog and his owner is now being retold through the eyes of a dog trying to find his purpose through his many lives. It is a film that all dog owners and lovers will find hard to resist.
Inspired by the novel “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron, the movie takes the audience into the mind and soul of the dog through its numerous reincarnations where he learns different values and a different purpose. However, all his owners are connected in one way: they were lonely before they were united with their loving dog.
Although the movie is a bit too sentimental and uses simple language to appeal to its audience of all ages, the movie is well done with great cinematography of the dog, his owners and his surroundings.
The film, rated PG, ponders the question that has plagued the world’s greatest philosophers: What is our purpose? What is the meaning of life? The story pursues explanations to that question and is answered in each of the dog’s lives, finding a different purpose in each one.
The story starts off with Bailey, voiced by Josh Gad, a young red retriever who is saved from the sweltering heat by a mother (Juliet Rylance) and her son Ethan (Bryce Gheisar). The boy and Bailey hit it off right away, and Bailey is there through all his trials in life, from his first girlfriend to an accident that costs him his football scholarship.
Comedic rhetoric and commentary arrives through Gad, Bailey’s voice over, in describing everything from the “big yellow box that whisks Ethan away” to hilarious descriptions of the relationship he has with his second in command, Smokey the cat.
When Bailey’s time is up, he is reincarnated into a female police dog named Ellie who has non-sentimental relationship with her owner, Carlos (John Ortiz). Next, Ellie is brought back to life as an adorable corgi named Tino, who helps his owner Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) find love in her lonely life. In his next life he finds a much older and depressed Ethan (Dennis Quaid).
While the screen is filled with puppy faces and tricks, the human acting does not meet standards. Over-publicized Quaid receives little screen time, while some scenes re overacted, especially those involving teenaged Ethan, played by K.J. Apa.
According to the New York Times, the film’s premiere in Los Angeles was canceled due to the release of a video in which a German shepherd was forced—but not hurt—into artificial rapids during filming. However, the incident had no effect on the film’s success considering it was second at the box office at $18.3 million, second only to “Split,” in its opening weekend, Jan. 27-29.
Whether it is a retriever, a German shepherd or a corgi, the love and admiration dogs and pets in general have for their owners is remarkable and the film will for sure bring love and tears to its family audiences.