This week I went to see A Dog’s Purpose. I just wasn’t up for watching Milla Jovovich fight her way across yet another zombie stuffed wasteland. Again. But f I’m being honest, I have to tell you – the ‘feel good movie’ is not one my preferred genres. I prefer movies that make me think instead of just going for the Feels. I might not be the best person to review A Dog’s Purpose so let me just say upfront that the other people in the theater thought it was wonderful and I thought it was pretty good.
Movie animals get to me. You can do what you like to humans, they usually deserve what’s coming to them. But animals are Innocents (according to my brain) they depend on us, they trust us and should be treated well. So, say, when the crew of the Nostromo gets an intestinal parasite that turns lethal, I’m happy for Ripley but I’m rooting for Jones (the cat). What I’m saying is A Dog’s Purpose had a lot to work with. I teared up watching the trailer; the movie should have me sobbing and unable to walk without help.
That’s not what happened – I was just fine afterwards. Yes A Dog’s Purpose was very sad in places and funny in others. It had an amazing premise that worked well with its material. They just could have done so much more with it. The idea of a dog who is asking the big questions while reincarnating through lifetimes and remembering each while being exposed to a cross-section of human drama from which to learn, is brilliant. But too much of it was gag’s on a dog’s perspective and unrelated segments that really didn’t do anything to further the plot or change the narrative. They could have cut about a half hour of completely extraneous scenes (maybe made it a montage?) and brought the movie down to a respectable 90 minutes.
There were some things A Dog’s Purpose did very well though. I thought the story of Ethan (the dog’s owner) was amazing. The freshness of a dog’s perspective against the story of a man losing his struggle with loneliness was powerful, made even better by the fact that the dog returned after a long period. The acting was amazing too, particularly Dennis Quaid playing the older version of KJ APA (both very hot). This story was the core of the movie, I’m not sure why they didn’t work with that more. Except that this is based on a book, so perhaps there’s something lost in translation here.
So is A Dog’s Purpose worth watching? Yes, if you like that kind of thing. This is another one of those movies where they put all the best stuff in the trailer. It looked better than it was but it was still pretty good. I cried twice. The very end was disappointing (what the Dog’s Purpose actually turned out to be) because it seemed a bit too ‘pat’ and didn’t really have much to say. The dog didn’t actually get there, it was just a narrative device. I get that A Dog’s Purpose wasn’t an actual philosophical treatise and was instead ‘funny and sad’ but I wish it had said more.