When we first heard of the film A Dogs Purpose being made, we rushed out to read the book by W. Bruce Cameron.It is a story full of highs and lows as we follow a dog and its quest to decide what its purpose in life is as he goes through various reincarnations.
The book and the film both hit hard that sadly not all of our dog friends get treated to a wonderful life, the first pup we meet escapes from a puppy farm, only to be caught by the dog wardens, whilst we don’t see what happens, we know from the pup, that his life is over before it began. This is the start of one dog’s life and the various reincarnations he has, to decide his purpose.
And the story then introduces us to Bailey, the pup who will take centre stage in this story, again another escapee from a puppy farm, he is caught by 2 men who Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad, who retains the voice through all reincarnations) assumes will be his new owners.
Sadly, they have taken him, thinking they can get quick cash by selling him, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the film, we see them leave Bailey in the car and he looks like he is about to die, as its hot day and no windows are open (Believe those posts that dogs die in hot cars =(
That is until he is spotted by Ethan (Bryce Gheisar) who alerts his mum (Juliet Rylance) they break the car window and after winning over the seemingly uncaring dad (Luke Kirby) Bailey is allowed to stay and become the family pet.
Ethan gets him a collar and they become inseparable, but Bailey still has his moments, with Ethan’s Dad really not being a fan, especially for events that happen at a meeting with his bosses, in which he wants a promotion. This appears to make him even less caring towards bailey and appears to confirm he may have a drinking problem.
We then follow an older Bailey and Ethan (K.J. Apa) as he gets ready for college and finds his first love in Hannah (Britt Robertson) and they even plan to remain sweethearts as they grow older but tragedy strikes and events see Ethan break his leg and take away his college dreams of being a Pro-Footballer.
Adding to the heartbreak of his mother finally accepting she must get their drinking father out of their lives.
Ethan and his mum now live with his grandparents (Michael Bofshever & Gabrielle Rose). These two take care of Bailey when Ethan heads down a new college path, having also broken up with Hannah, when he feels their distance apart now, means they have no future.
Bailey eventually dies of sadness and old age with Ethan no longer being around, and after sad scenes where the 2 will meet one last time before Bailey’s next reincarnation.
This time it is as a police dog, and this time he is female and called Ellie, we follow her story, with her serving with widower police officer Carlos (John Ortiz)
Ellie’s life will again end in tragedy in scenes which were shown around the world, when the producers were accused of animal cruelty (which they were cleared of by the American Humane Society) we like to think in those scenes it is because Ellie is a stunning dog actress and not in fear at all.
We then see Bailey as Tino a Corgi who helps Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) find her true love and sees them both have a long and happy life.
Bailey then returns as Buddy who after a heart breaking life of neglect, finds a familiar smell which sees him get another life which helps him find what he believes his true purpose is, where he meets the much older Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and helps him meet Hannah (Peggy Lipton) again, where they can discuss the missed life they could have had.
The film (as does the book) highlights the need to rescue dogs from shelters where possible by showing for some breeders, it is all about the money.
The scenes of exhaustion; drowning; death and neglect are never dwelled on too long to leave you down on the film and after they happen, we always get a happy puppy or in the case of the neglect story, happy ending to life our spirits, which works for the film (the book however because of the written word, has much more sadness)
Having 2 Chihuahuas in our pack, we loved the message of this film and dog owners should love this film as much. The changes made to the book make this a much more family viewing pleasure. The book has some real sad scenes for the dog, from being rejected by his mother and being taken away from sister and friends, and if honest we much prefer the book’s police dog story, which is completely changed for the film.
That being said, if you can get past those allegations of animal cruelty, director Lasse Hallstrom has brought a dog’s love letter to humans to the screen with great effect. We loved it! It is a great mix of comedy and drama where you will cry tears of sadness and joy in equal measure.
View the trailer here:
Buy the book here:
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