A Dog’s Purpose (PG)

Let me state for the record that although it may not always seem true, I am an animal lover; but I love animals from a distance.  This means, I do not want one in my home.  The smells, the hair, the walking, the cleaning of the bowl, tank, cage, etc., the feeding, the litter box, poop bags – not to mention the high cost of veterinarian bills and pet medicine… It’s just not something I’m interested in committing to at this point in my life.  I’ve already raised a child.  That’s enough of that for me personally.

Growing up, I had every pet a city kid could want.  Most dear to me was my black Labrador Retriever, Chiffon.  She was a beautiful midnight black dog with the shiniest coat ever, who I followed everywhere from the time I learned to crawl.  She disappeared one rainy night and everyone in our apartment building went out looking for her.  Chiffon was so black and her coat so shiny, she had been hit by a car and was lying in the middle of the rain-slicked street right in front of the building unnoticed the entire time.  After she was found, my mom flagged down a police car.  Upon being told they do not take dogs to the hospital, my mom informed them they would be taking THIS dog to the hospital!  The cops drove Chiffon and my mom to the hospital (I don’t remember which hospital just now) where Chiffon’s life was saved.  When Chiffon passed away some time later, my Mom said, “No more dogs.”  She couldn’t take the heartache.  And there were no more dogs.

Based on the 2001 novel written by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose (starring Bryce Gheisar (8 year old Ethan), K.J. Apa (teen Ethan), Dennis Quaid (adult Ethan), and at least 4 dogs of different breeds) is the story of one dog’s conscious journey through several reincarnations as different breeds of dog to different owners.  This dog, Bailey, goes through these reincarnations with some memories from his past life/lives as he (and/or she, depending on which incarnation is being referring to) is trying to determine his and/or her “purpose” in life.

This movie is sweet. If you like Marley & Me, you’ll probably like this.  There are many philosophical themes that make it deeper than a movie about a boy and his dog, without it being too deep.  I was feeling kind of weepy today before I even saw it and was expecting to be sitting in a puddle of tears by the end.  You see, my mom just passed away on January 7 of this year, and that memory of her making the cops take that dog to the hospital (which I wrote yesterday in anticipation of this review) is very dear to me.  But I was okay, with no more than a sniffle or a wipe of the eye here and there.  Others viewers were not okay.  When the movie ended I was the only one who moved from my seat in this all adult audience for some time.  Everyone else just sat there in silence, as if they had to pull themselves together a bit before proceeding to the door.

The plot is so original; following this dog through his conscious reincarnations was interesting. I was drawn into the movie and invested in this dog.  I wanted to see what he or she would go through or which breed or gender the dog would come back as next, who his or her owner(s) would be and what his or her life would be like.  I’ve never read the book (and I can honestly state that I never will), so I had no idea what I was in for here.  I was pleasantly surprised.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ve learned a bit about my parenting style. I don’t believe in children being too young to discuss any subject, so, in my opinion, this is a good movie to see with children if you want to gently introduce them to the concept of death and dying, euthanasia, grief, the importance of having a plan for your life and having a back-up plan, and the ability to adapt when those plans change for whatever reason.  Learn to be happy with whatever you have because things could be much better, but they could also be much worse.  This movie contains many life lessons and brings up issues that encourage critical thinking for kids and parents and/or guardians to build meaningful discussions around.

Unfortunately, A Dog’s Purpose, as sweet as it is, is not without problems. The story did get a bit cheesy at times, particularly during Bailey’s “first life” with Ethan.  The editing left something to be desired.  There will be reincarnations that you’ll enjoy more than others, but hang in there.  It gets better in the end.

A Dog’s Purpose earned 7 out of 10 bloops. It’s a good movie worth seeing, particularly if you have children and enjoyable even if you do not – particularly if you are a dog lover.  Did I mention Peggy Lipton is in it and she looks amazing?  Well she is and she does!  It is also a movie that, if you have children, you won’t mind them watching or watching with them again and again.  It is a great conversation starter on a number of real life subjects.  The dogs are cute and, at times, comical.  The story is quite original.  If your children are smaller or not the “sitting still” type, you might want to catch it streaming because it is 2 hours long.  I would say reasonably, (depending on the child of course) there’s quite a bit to enjoy in this movie for children 7 and up.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Upcoming:

  • Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey; I’m going to watch unsexy, balding, pot-bellied Matthew McConaughey just for you guys. I hope you appreciate that.

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