Movie Tugs at Heart

by Danielle Tobb ‘17

Three weeks before “A Dog’s Purpose” hit theaters, a controversial video of a German Shepherd being forced into turbulent water was aired on TMZ. After receiving widespread backlash from moviegoers and animal rights groups alike, it was uncertain how this incident would affect the much-anticipated potential blockbuster. When I saw the video, I questioned seeing the movie. However, the producers later asserted that the dog was only distressed because they filmed the scene on a different side than the dog originally rehearsed on.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the movie, I still had high hopes. After all, who doesn’t have a soft spot for cute pups? Adapted from W. Bruce Cameron’s bestselling novel, and directed by Lasse Hallström, “A Dog’s Purpose” is irresistible. The first hour of the film follows the life of a Golden Retriever named Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), whose loveable owner Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) forms a special bond with throughout adolescence (K.J. Apa). This part of Bailey’s life brings the audience a romantic relationship between Ethan and Hannah (Britt Robertson) that leaves Bailey confused as to why they keep “fighting for food in each other’s mouths.”

Through it all, Bailey holds a special place in Ethan’s heart—until he goes off to college and Bailey dies of loneliness. Cry count: 1. Buwt all hope is not lost: Bailey gets reincarnated as a German Shepherd named Ellie who works as a police K9 aiding a Chicago cop (John Ortiz). On the chase for a kidnapper one day, Ellie is shot in an attempt to save her owner. Cry count: 2.

Bailey then becomes an adorable corgi helping a college student (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) find love, and finally a mutt named Buddy. Now I won’t spoil the ending, but Buddy makes his way from being chained up in his neglectful owner’s yard to an unlikely old friend while finding his ultimate purpose.

Cry count grand tally: 8. This movie is just as sappy as it sounds. Although it starts off just a bit slow, the entire movie coming from a dog’s point of view is a brilliant idea. Bailey’s inner thoughts seriously kept me laughing (and crying) from the start of the movie to the finish. From the soothing voice of Gad narrating the film to the spot-on performances by Apa and Dennis Quaid (Ethan as an adult), the movie effortlessly showcases a dog’s tireless search for the meaning of life.

Grade: A