A Dog’s Purpose Review: Is A Dog’s Purpose worth watching? Does it live up to its overly sentimental, clichéd title? Not really. And yes.
Warning: there are spoilers in this review.
It opens with the tired question: “What is the meaning of life?” For two hours, we watch through the eyes of Bailey the red retriever as he searches for his purpose through several lifetimes. Why does this canine need a purpose? We never find out.
The main storyline follows Bailey’s friendship with Ethan, an athletically gifted, energetic kid, through his childhood and teen years. When a hateful peer burns down Ethan’s home, his future in football is crushed, and he drives his poor girlfriend Hannah away in his misery. He is now destined to take over his grandparents’ farm. And as he leaves for agricultural school, he must for the first time part with Bailey, who until now has been his one constant in his life.
But just as one story seems to be ending, another begins. Bailey is suddenly reincarnated in a new life as a female police dog. And that’s the second of five total lifetimes he experiences. It seems that the movie keeps throwing new perspectives for him to peer through until he finds his true purpose. Predictably, this takes a while, so the movie does tend to drag sometimes. But Bailey’s voice stays light, perceptive and funny, which helps moves the plot along. Also, the voice strangely stays male even in lifetimes he happens to be a girl.
A Dog’s Purpose is admittedly unoriginal. The characters we meet are tired – the alcoholic father; the troubled, irresponsible youth; the lonely young girl searching for love; the athletically gifted son. And it tends to spoon-feed the audience the plot, so some of the delights that can be found in picking up on subtle symbolism is lost. However, this is understandable since the movie is largely geared towards children.
But, that’s not to say that A Dog’s Purpose isn’t enjoyable for other demographics. On the contrary, it touches on a universal theme: love, loneliness, and of course, loyalty.
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All in all, though, it probably won’t blow you away. If anything, you’ll enjoy parts of it, but afterward, you’ll look back on it as one of the cornier things you’ve watched. And then you’ll move onto something that’s more enticing, compelling, or original. So to be honest, you probably have better things to do.