‘A Dog’s Purpose’ is a very emotional film that is both very sad but also very uplifting and the whole time from start to finish it is really pulling on those heart strings. It follows the journey of a dog who is finding the meaning or ‘purpose’ for his existence through his interactions with various owners throughout various lives. It is a heartbreaking but also very heartwarming story that focuses strongly on the bond between an owner and his (or her) dog, something that is sure to relate to all dog lovers or even animal lovers in general. Overall i thought the story here was good but when you know where the story is going to go in the end it makes some sequences in the middle of the film not irrelevant but mainly just there for the emotional hits. Speaking of the emotional hits, there are many within this relatively tight and short film and where they pretty much all hit it could work against the film in the end. The entire cast i thought was really good but aside from maybe 2 characters it’s hard to get attached to anyone due to the amount of time spent with them being so small.
The film stars Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid, K.J. Apa, and Bryce Gheisar as the films main live-action roles and all of the above especially i thought were great in the film. I really did enjoy every scene where at least one of those characters was on screen but as none of them were really featured for an extremely long period of time i think that it wasn’t the performances that got me hooked into certain characters but rather the characters themselves. This is something i think the film did fantastically as there were some characters who when introduced i instantly felt a connection to, like i knew them, but i hadn’t actually seen that actor in the film prior. So in establishing a character that the audience can relate to and recognise beyond the actor portraying them this film passes with flying colours, and i loved that. The film also stars Josh Gad as the voice of the dog that takes on many names throughout its many lifetimes and i thought as far as voices go he was spot on. For the first maybe 10 minutes of the film my mind went straight to Olaf…… but as soon as you get hooked in the story, the emotion, and his performance you forget all about it. He also adds a touch of light humour throughout that is good to keep the film on the lighter side.
Now with the story, part of it, in fact, all of it is exploring the bond between a dog and the dogs owner, how strong that bond can be and the importance behind a dog’s presence in someones life. Now even though that is a good recurring theme throughout the film, the main story element that you really care about and want to see develop is the relationship between the dog ‘Bailey’ and Ethan (Bryce Gheisar), the first relationship explored in the film. But that doesn’t last forever and around half way through the film there is a 25 or so minute chunk where it is still focusing on the dog/owner bond but with different dogs and different owners. These essentially ‘short stories’ were emotional and highlight different bonds that again relate back to that reason for existence that dogs try to understand. So on their own i think their perfectly fine, but in the context of the entire film’s main story they just didn’t fit well and almost felt like an intermission. As short stories there is nothing wrong with them but their relevance in the main story you want to see isn’t as clear which is unfortunate.
Now i mentioned this is a very emotional film, although there are other films with some more stronger emotional moments involving pets this features these moments very heavily and consistently from start to finish. I mean literally, there is not an emotionally neutral second of this movie. The content on screen is either very sad and will bring about the waterworks or it is very positive, happy, and uplifting, not a single second is spent in the middle. This is both good and bad….. firstly it is good as it means there is not a single moment of this film that is boring, it is always keeping you engaged and feeling something for the characters. But it works against the film in the sense that if everything is always swinging from sad to happy, back to sad and then happy again it can get quite exhausting by the end.
So in the end this is a film sure to hook in any dog or pet lovers and i don’t think it will disappoint. It is nothing amazing and it doesn’t do things that are going to make it your favourite pet-related movie but it does enough to make it a nice satisfying watch. You get your emotionally happy and sad moments with a touch of light humour sprinkled here and there which makes this just a nice, relaxing little movie.