The greatest trick “A Dog’s Purpose” tried to pull was convincing its audience that “no animals were harmed during the making of this film”. Prior to the film’s release, a video emerged online, showing a German Shepherd being forced into a water tank to shoot a scene. I tried to ignore this incident as I watched this corny love letter to…ironically…dogs. In true Hallmark fashion, “A Dog’s Purpose” tells the story of Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), a retriever who is adopted by Ethan, a young boy in the 1950’s. We watch as Ethan grows up, meets his first love and finally goes to college. And then…his dog dies. But wait a minute. Bailey is reborn again, this time as a girl. Then he/she dies again. And then reborn as another dog. You see where I’m going. I admit: the first part of the story is likable and actually gave me rooting interest (hence the two stars). It’s only after the first death that the movie turns into a manipulative mess. Will Bailey find his purpose? The handful of screenwriters who are credited here are all too ready to fall back on tired movie clichés to answer that question. At the end, all that’s left is for me to appreciate the existence of dogs…but that’s still not enough to validate the existence of this movie.
★★★ Very good