What’s All the Wag About? “A DOG’S PURPOSE” Movie Review

Release Date: January 27, 2017
Running Time: 1 hours 40 minutes
Rated PG for thematic elements and some peril
Grade: B+
Directed By: Lasse Hallstrom

Film Title: A Dog's Purpose

What is the meaning of life? Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this?

For Bailey, a Red Retriever, it all began with a boy named Ethan. They met when Ethan was a little boy and as the years went by Bailey was always there for him. Whenever life got Ethan down, Bailey knew exactly what to do. Bailey was there when Ethan met a girl and when Ethan’s life was in danger. When Ethan went away to college it was time for Bailey to go. Luckily, that’s not where it ends for Bailey. He comes back as a brave German Shepard named Ellie who is a police dog who comforts and protects his partner. Then he comes back as an adorable Corgi named Tino who Maya thinks can read her mind. With each new life he learns a new lesson. After rescuing his owners and helping them find love and life, he comes back as a Mixed Breed who is thrown away by his owner’s boyfriend. When Bailey finds his way back to Ethan, he not only realizes his purpose in life but he also helps Ethan find true happiness.

The Ones We Rescue – Rescue Us

A Dog’s Purpose is a story told through the eyes of Bailey the dog. It is about the unbreakable bond formed between a boy and his red retriever. The heartwarming tale makes us laugh, but also cry for various reasons from the joyous moments to the painful ones.

Bailey’s story is relatable. The film by Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Hundred-Foot Journey) brings back memories of every dog I ever loved. Hallstrom also brought us Hachiko: A Dog’s Story in 2009 so he knows how to build the emotional connection. Anyone who ever loved a dog can close their eyes and recall certain unique things they did that made you laugh and/or smile.

Film Title: A Dog's Purpose

Bailey realizes that he has a purpose and it is to love his human friend and just be there.

So the next time you are busy and your dog wants your attention, stop and spend a few moments with them because all they want, more than anything in the world is to be with you.

Cinematographer Terry Stacey’s camera angles capture life from a dog’s perspective and create more than a few humorous scenes. The set designs and panoramic landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for the screenplay by Audrey Wells.

It is great to see Dennis Quaid play a supporting, but crucial role as an adult Ethan. He shines in dramatic roles and this is no exception. Relative newcomer K.J. Apa delivers a solid performance as the teenage Ethan. Look for K.J. in the new TV series Riverdale as Archie Andrews. And we can’t forget to mention Josh Gad (Frozen and Angry birds) who provides the wonderful voice of Bailey, the star of the film.

The family friendly film is a mix of drama, adventure and plenty of funny moments. It should appeal to most audiences, especially dog lovers. If Director Hallstrom’s goal was to evoke emotion, then he succeeded. A Dog’s Purpose is a must see for dog lovers, but take your tissue because you will need it.

~A.S. MacLeod

If I can get you licking and loving, I have my purpose.

As a dog lover, I simply love the message that is portrayed in this film. W. Bruce Cameron’s 49 week New York Times best seller is colorfully brought to life by Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules) along with the cast and crew.

The lion share of the film is dominated by the back story of Bailey and Ethan whose intertwined lives show how important this type of relationship is. Throughout the film, Josh Gad’s voice performance brings humor and sadness, but mostly humor. As you can tell from the synopsis, this is a three hanky type of film so be prepared. From someone who has lost multiple furry loved ones, those scenes are a little tough to endure, but the rebound is comforting.

It was clear that all of the human actors put their hearts into their work as well as the furry actors who stole every scene. Oscar winning composer Rachel Portman and cinematographer Terry Stacey help paint a beautiful picture of what life is like from a dog’s point of view. If you are in the mood to be rescued, don’t miss out on this one.

~Movie Buffette

“In the end, it’s really the story of unconditional true love that never dies.” ~W. Bruce Cameron

Bryce Gheisar as Young Ethan
J. Apa as Teenage Ethan
Britt Robertson as Teenage Hannah
Luke Kirby as Jim
Juliet Rylance as Elizabeth
John Ortiz as Carlos
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Maya
Pooch Hall as Al
Dennis Quaid as Middle Age Ethan
Peggy Lipton as Middle Age Hannah
and Josh Gad as voice of Bailey/Ellie/Tino/Buddy

About Leigh Ann Rassler