Posted: Friday, January 27, 2017 – 5:08 PM
by Adam Sherman
If there’s one thing that makes people cry, it’s animal stories. It’s a cheap trick, but damn if it doesn’t usually work. Audiences tend to find it a lot easier to empathize with cats and dogs primarily because that sense of empathy goes both ways in real life. As such, a movie like A Dog’s Purpose should be an instant hit both critically and financially, right?
Well, sort of.
“A Dog’s Purpose” focuses on Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), who winds up reincarnating into different dog breeds every time he dies. New feelings and shenanigans ensue.
With Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) at the helm, the movie seems perfectly set up for being a cry-fest… and yet, doesn’t seem to fully follow through. The film tends to focus on being a “feel good” flick over portraying some of the more tragic elements in the original novel. Granted, in this political climate, and considering the subject matter, this isn’t all that unwelcome. While nothing in the film can actually get the waterworks going, there are plenty of moments where audiences will genuinely feel for Bailey and his struggles.
Normally, this would be the end of the story… but now to address the elephant in the room.
Earlier this month, leaked on-set footage revealed a German shepherd being forced back into the water tank set after jumping out in fear. As an animal lover I was half tempted to bash this movie on that basis alone, regardless of the film’s content. However, as more information becomes available, it seems the sins of the crew were far less than shown.
Because of all this, I can’t rate this film, nor can I say people should see it now. Instead, I implore you to make your own decision.