I was strongly considering boycotting this movie… because it looked like a dumb, cheesy flick with no interest in telling a riveting story, and instead be a tiresome exercise in emotional pandering to dog lovers.
But I had a few readers ask if I was going to watch it. Apparently, they were under the impression that I might love this movie.
And then, a video came out that gave A Dog’s Purpose ALOT of bad press. The internet ran agog with this new video of supposed animal abuse. The internet fairies apparently started to magically bequeath every internet dweller with professional dog training certificates.
So I decided that I would watch the video myself to see what the terrible thing was that everyone was so upset about.
Now I’ve got quite a few irritatingly-toned things to say about all this ruckus caused by the video, so if you don’t care about that and just want my thoughts on this movie, just scroll down to the picture of Dennis Quaid rubbing noses with a dog.
But this whole thing has made me so angry that I actually postponed my viewing of “Moonlight” (a movie I was way more likely to enjoy) so that I can voice my disdain for this situation.
Now TMZ, always a bastion of truth, and totally not professional shit-stirrers, found a video of a man “abusing” a dog by forcing him to get into turbulent water. The dog then gets forced into the water where it goes under for five seconds.
That was everyone’s takeaway from the video anyway…
If anyone looked at the video objectively, yes the dog definitely did not want to go in the water. But it looked like the trainer was trying to introduce the stimuli to the dog in hopes that it would get in the water and do its job. When the dog wouldn’t do it, the trainer removes the dog from the water.
The video then cuts to another scene, where there was absolutely no telling what happened in between cuts, and then the dog is swimming, and goes under for about five seconds, wherein, the trainers in the water with the dog then immediately go after the dog and get him back out.
The absolute monsters.
But instead of viewing this video with a bit of skepticism and research, the majority of the internet bought a one-way ticket to the rage train and slammed the movie left and right.
And then PETA, trying so desperately to stay relevant (because naked ladies wasn’t doing that anymore apparently), initiated a boycott of the movie, a movie that validates every single dog and animal obsessed person on the planet.
And if there’s two things that most people on the planet love doing these days, it’s outraging and virtue-signaling. Thus, all the idiots took to social media and slammed a movie that was made specifically for them.
And then a few reviewers that I follow actually made statements about how they were not going to see the film. One even made an actual “review” where they stated their stunning and brave stance on how they were not going to see this monstrous movie.
I was absolutely livid. Here I am, a man who doesn’t understand dog lovers whatsoever, about to defend a movie for dog lovers against the rage of dog lovers.
Listen, if this is the theatrical sword that you choose to fall on, then you’re a moron. If what they did to the dog was truly unethical, then by all means, punish those who were responsible. But punish the entire movie for one instance? The movie not only validates the dog-obsessed, but it actually raises awareness on some common ways that people abuse / neglect their dogs, and does so in an extremely negative light.
Even if this was unethical treatment of the dog, it’s not even that bad. The dog was lifted out of the water when it refused to get in, AND THEN THE VIDEO CUTS TO A NEW SCENE, and the dog is in the water. For all we know, it was a different stunt dog. And the video distinctly shows humans in the turbulent water right next to it, and wouldn’t you know it, they actually got the dog out and it didn’t die.
Now if this video made you upset and concerned, then that’s fine, but if you’re so outraged that you want to boycott this movie, you need to get a life.
TMZ spends most of their time getting rises out of celebrities so we can sit at home and laugh at them, and PETA is an organization run by insane people. And you chose to side with these guys without any shred of skepticism? Good Lord.
Most of these same people saw “Manchester By the Sea” despite the fact that Casey Affleck has settled multiple sexual harassment cases in court. So by your logic, I guess by watching this film, you support sexual harassment?
Most of you also watched the juvenile “Sausage Party” despite the fact that multiple reports have come out about the animators being excruciatingly overworked and underpaid. So by your logic, I guess you support mistreatment of workers too?
Alright, now on to the actual review…
So I actually enjoyed watching A Dog’s Purpose despite the fact that it’s a dumb movie.
There’s quite a few emotional scenes that work, and the film actually does something that not a whole lot of animal-centered films do. When most films involve “talking” animals, most of their humor comes from absurdity and pointlessness (see The Secret Life of Pets). But with this movie, the majority of the humor is rendered through the dog misinterpreting human situations. Most of the dog’s narration is him thinking about what’s going on from an animal’s perspective instead of a human one. This made a lot of the humor feel extremely organic.
That’s about where my compliments for this movie end.
The acting for this movie is okay at best, and it often goes into bad territory. The child actor they got was a distraction if he was doing anything that required emotional complexity. Thankfully, the script hardly ever called for him to shine, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Dennis Quaid himself gives a fairly half-hearted performance for the most part.
Most of the characters in this film are thinly developed. This isn’t necessarily the biggest deal because the movie is about the dog, but considering the dog is largely a blank slate, it would have made the movie a lot better if they found subtle ways to develop all of the humans, as they were the only characters you could possibly develop in a deep way.
The entire movie is narrated by the main dog, who gets reincarnated into another dog once he/she dies. The narration works for a majority of scenes, but of course, as most movies with narration tend to do, it frequently goes into overly-expository areas. There were multiple times where I was able to interpret the scene based on the acting and context, and then the movie comes in and condescendingly reaffirms what I already interpreted via Josh Gad’s voice.
Many of the story lines require a large amount of convenience. There were multiple times where I was questioning why the dog would do something weird, or a person would do something unnatural, and my questions were almost always met with the answer, “it’s because the plot requires it.”
There were also a lot of different scenes where I was wondering why the humans took their dogs to inappropriate areas. For instance, one woman brings her dog to all of her college classes (and it’s not a service dog either). There’s a scene where a couple go to a really fancy restaurant, and their dogs are on leashes as they’re eating at this place. One of the guys spends every single date he has with this girl accompanied by the dog. Obviously, they needed the dogs to be there because the story is about them, but I was constantly taken out of the movie because of it.
The last ten-fifteen minutes of the movie are absolutely idiotic. It doesn’t make sense, it felt really awkward, and it was extremely corny and forced. It was often hard for me to take this movie seriously, but the last act of the movie was easily the worst.
But honestly, the movie is charming and funny in some ways, and it definitely gave me the feels more then once. If you’re a dog person, then I don’t expect all of the movie’s issues to bother you.
However, if things like story, acting, character development, realism, and sense matter to you in movies, then this movie isn’t for you, because it fails rather hard in all of these categories. Then again, it’s a movie about a dog who reincarnates itself every time it dies, so I guess the movie shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but I do not have a different scale for those types of movies.
Just know that the level of enjoyment I had from A Dog’s Purpose is not reflected in the grade of the film; my grade is based on quality alone.
4 out of 10