What exactly is a dog’s purpose in this world? Sniff as many butts as you can? Eat all of the bacon? Maybe even pee on a few fire hydrants? Well this particular movie dog isn’t sure.
A Dog’s Purpose follows the heart and soul of a reincarnated pooch through a confusion of new breeds, genders and owners (with all of these lives narrated by Olaf from Frozen), as he tries to find his, well, purpose in this crazy world.
You first meet Bailey in the 1960s. The Golden Retriever winds up in the home of a young boy, Ethan, whose father has a drinking problem and a disregard for his family’s happiness. But Bailey is there to provide the love and protection, as Ethan grows up and eventually leaves for college. Then the inevitable happens, and Bailey’s spirit moves on to Ellie the German Shepherd, then Tino the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and so on and so forth. Who said it was just cats that had nine lives?
It’s hard to complain when you technically get five dog stories in one film. But it’s as cheesy as an animal film can be – in the most basic terms, it’s a Nicholas Sparks’ film with dogs. You will cry a lot, but that’s more due to the filmmakers shamelessly manipulating emotions by staging at least four dog demises over the course of two hours.
This cute little film is as confused as its canine character, and doesn’t come close to offering a sense of Bailey’s purpose. It’s also problematic that the biggest laugh comes from the fact that the director’s name just happens to be Lasse – not a great sign for what’s presumably a comedy. This is one bone we’ll leave buried, but it’s heartening to know that the RSPCA adoption page has been scanned multiple times since the rolling of the credits.
In cinemas: May 4, 2017
Starring: Josh Gad, Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid
Directed by: Lasse Hallström