A Dog’s Purpose

This is the movie I promised myself  I would never see. The trailer itself made it crystal clear: this is the story of one dog who keeps coming back to life as different breeds with different owners. And in order for a dog to be reborn – you guessed it – he has to die. A lot. And it’s never, ever not sad. But the film makes no bones about death not being the worst fate for dogs – and THAT was the worst part. The part when he didn’t die, but lived a miserable life.

27-dog-purpose.w710.h473Anyway, as if a dog’s repeated death wasn’t enough to deter me, there was some controversy prior to the film’s release when a video of one of the actor dogs revealed it looking completely terrified during a stunt. Abuse was alleged, which led people to boycott the film. Not that it mattered; A Dog’s Purpose is not terribly good. It was never going to win the box office. It preys on your heartstrings. The director is so shamelessly over-sentimental that I felt like a dog on a leash being yanked along against my will.

If you’ve been paying attention here, you may have noticed that Sean and I are dog lovers, or that I am a dog lover and Sean never really stood a chance. I already had Herbie when I met Sean, and Sean had to win his approval in order to stick around. Then we got Gertie so that Herbie would always have a friend. And then we adopted Fudgie on the day we bought our house. And Bronx was given to me as a post-surgery recovery gift. So that’s 4 – the maximum amount of animals we can have on our property without legally declaring ourselves a farm. They keep my life full and happy. There’s no better way to feel like a million bucks: simply leave home and return 10 minutes later. Tails will wag, joyous barks will sound, big sloppy kisses will greet you at the door.

While watching the movie, Sean had an epiphany: what if the only god that exists is the god of dogs. And this world belongs to the dogs. And we’re just here to act as their humble servants. And OUR purpose is to create better and better domestic situations for them. If that’s the case, dogs are benevolent masters, friendly and forgiving. Me? Not so much. This is one movie that deserved to be put down, but since it wasn’t, I caution you to tell it it’s a bad boy, a very bad boy, now maybe hit it in the nose with a rolled up newspaper and tell it to go lie down in its bed. And go hug a real dog instead.

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26 thoughts on “A Dog’s Purpose

    1. Jay Post author

      You are correct. It was a failure here in North American but Chinese audiences loved it so they’ll make a sequel that’s more directed toward a Chinese audience. It may not even get a theatre release here.

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  1. badblokebob

    Didn’t it turn out the behind-the-scenes footage was edited in such a way to imply there was abuse when none had occurred? I forget the specifics…

    Anyway, I’ve never seen Marley & Me because I know the dog dies, so watching a dog die over and over again? No thanks.

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  2. Spoken Like A True Nut

    My husband, knowing I’m a sucker for all things canine, pointed the book out to me in Chapters several years ago and like a fool I bought it. Naturally I was in tears a mere few pages in, and things just went downhill from there.

    Then I bought and read the sequel, because apparently I didn’t learn my lesson (and waste enough Kleenex) the first time around.

    Sorry, movie. You don’t get to fool me thrice.

    That said, I’m still waiting with bated breath to see if The Art of Racing in the Rain ever finally makes it to the screen, because if there’s one dog movie I would be willing to sob over, that would be it.

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  3. Isey

    I’m a dog lover and movie lover, but don’t feel the need to cross-polinate the two in this regard. Thanks for saving me from it. =)

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  4. Lauren Busser

    Dogs dying in movies makes me cry all the time! It actually happens with books too! Don’t get me started on Lily and the Octopus! But I actually have this book sitting on my shelf and I may read it in small doses! When, you know, I really need to cry!

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  5. Susan Leighton

    I am a HUGE dog lover, Jay. The trailer had me in tears. But I did have the feeling I would be beaten into submission and forced to have some sort of cathartic emotional experience akin to early Spielberg films. No, I don’t like films that tell me what response I should have. Good review and I think I will pass.

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  6. Chris Scott

    My kids wanted to see this and I avoided it. Now that it is out at home, they’ve asked again. So, I’ve read this review to them. We no longer have to see this movie.

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  7. D. Wallace Peach

    Great review – so funny. I have no plans to see this movie. I like Sean’s epiphany about who really rules the world. If only it were so. *Sigh* The world would be in much better shape. 🙂

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  8. Christopher

    I’ve been through having to say goodbye to too many real dogs to ever subject myself to a movie where a dog dies over and over. Instead I’ll stick with the idea of a god of dogs, because loving a dog and being loved in return is heavenly.

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