A Dog’s Purpose

A Dog's Purpose (2017)
A Dog's Purpose poster Rating: 6.1/10 (19,117 votes)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: W. Bruce Cameron (screenplay), Cathryn Michon (screenplay), Audrey Wells (screenplay), Maya Forbes (screenplay), Wally Wolodarsky (screenplay), W. Bruce Cameron (based on the novel by)
Stars: Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton, Bryce Gheisar
Runtime: 100 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Released: 27 Jan 2017
Plot: A dog looks to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes and owners.

You know how dogs are known to occasionally vomit, and then start immediately lapping up the vomit?  You know how you wonder why they would do such a thing?  Well, anyone who claims to enjoy this piece of film has exactly the same mindset as that dog, so maybe asking them will help understand how something so vile can be seemingly enjoyed!

A Dog’s Purpose tells the saccharine tale of a dog, voiced by Josh Gad, as he lives his multiple lives.  From his first very short life in the ‘50s, right up to the present day.  Along the way, as he reincarnates from one hound to another, he seeks a purpose in his existence in that existential way only a dog can do (no, seriously).  From lives as a beloved pet, to a life as a police dog, and a life of neglect, all the elements are forced into the dirge of a screenplay to tug at the heartstrings, and try to provoke a tear or two.  To this I must attest that it worked – when I realised how long I spent watching this, I wept at the lost time that I will never get back!

As did Dennis Quaid, who is seen here contemplating when, exactly, his career went so wrong…

I have to admit, the film got off to a bad start for me when in scenes set in 1961/1962, a young lad is reading brand new Captain America comics.  Given the comic was out of publication between 1954 and 1964, unless people were poly-bagging and boarding issues to retain their grade back then (they weren’t), that small bit of historical inaccuracy irked a geek like me, much in the same way the opening scenes of Pixels did for similar reasons (although, the whole run time of that film irked me anyway).  I know it’s a minor thing to fixate on, but the fact that 2 minutes of google fact checking would have helped shows that this was written without much of a care for accuracy.  Yes, I know it is a film about a dog philosopher, but still…

So much about this film failed to impress me.  The story made me actually contemplate whether Marley And Me was actually a decent film (it wasn’t, and remind me to re-post my review of that one day).  The acting is of the grade you expect from a late night, made-for-TV weepie, full of bland delivery of lines.  Most of all, however, is the voiceover by Josh Gad, which tries to be witty when adding a voice to the random actions of the dog, but instead comes over like the forced banality you get on You’ve Been Framed and other such ‘home video clip’ shows.

Even the dog looks like it wants out of the film!

There was a lot of controversy around the film when some clipped and edited footage purportedly showing a stunt dog being forced into the water against his will was released.  That footage, released 14 months after the alleged incident, caused so many animal lovers who clearly have never fought against their own dog to get them into a bathtub (I mean, seriously, does anyone have a hound that doesn’t fight against the tub as though their lives depended on it?) to cry out that the film should be banned due to the animal cruelty.  Despite an investigation into the events clearing the film of wrongdoing, the damage was done, and all those people happy to watch horses fall in western films, rats breath liquid oxygen in sci-fi films, and so many other animals in some form of discomfort for their entertainment, had decided that one dog not wanting to go in water was a damned good reason to boycott this film.  To this I say, “Don’t be daft!  Boycott the film because of the cruelty to the audiences who have sat through it so far!”

At the end of the film we are told, by that oh-so-cute voiceover what the purpose of the dog is.  By that point I began pondering what the purpose of films like this are, before coming to the conclusion they are deliberately made to break me out of my writer’s block and get back to posting reviews.


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