“I had a purpose, I was needed again and again and again. With each new life I was learning a new lesson.”
Directed by: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, KJ Apa, Bryce Gheisar, Britt Robertson, Peggy Lipton
Synopsis: A story of one reincarnating dog’s journey through multiple lives, the lessons he learns, and the humans he loves.
A Dog’s Purpose feels like a missed opportunity. It’s packed with heart, gentle humour, and emotion. And yet it’s seriously flawed in numerous other ways, not least of all in its overly front-loaded structure. Ultimately it doesn’t amount to much more than throwaway Sunday afternoon viewing, but for the first half, in spite of it walking a well-trodden path, Bailey the dog’s story is incredibly sweet.
Josh Gad’s voice over as the four-legged friend is full of wide-eyed wonderment and excitement, and it all culminates in one heck of an emotional gut punch (which can be seen coming a mile off, but smarts nonetheless). The issue here though is that the emotional payoff is premature, landing with 50% of the movie still to come – and, to make matters worse, is immediately undercut.
To get a bit spoilery, imagine if you’re watching Marley and Me, you make it through the torture of seeing that poor dog die after investing so much love into him, and then in the very next scene he’s back alive again; albeit with a different appearance, in a different location, with a different set of characters. You’d likely feel cheated. I certainly did with A Dog’s Purpose, in which basically exactly this happens. As the now reincarnated Bailey drifts through time for the vast majority of the second half, I found no reason to connect with his new owners. I didn’t fancy being shortchanged two times over. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Rating (out of 5):