In short, “A Dog’s Purpose” is really nothing more than cloying, manipulative and very artificial.
Moments that are apparently supposed to provide genuine, well-intentioned emotion backfire more often than not. It seems like the filmmakers believe a dog’s purpose is to have a series of cheesy moments followed by a fortune-cookie epiphany.
The movie follows the adventures of Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) who is reincarnated through dog after dog and experiences different adventures while trying to figure out what he’s meant to be and do. Hence, a dog’s purpose.
He starts out in the 1960s with a family that has an alcoholic father and he establishes a relationship with the father’s son, Ethan (K.J. Apa).
Soon, Bailey dies of old age and is reincarnated again this time as a German Shepard in Chicago for a cop and, yet again, for a college student who’s a hopeless romantic. There’s a subplot involving Bailey falling for another dog whose owner is very much interested in the college student. It doesn’t take much to figure out how this ends.
After another reincarnation, Bailey returns to familiar territory as a now-adult Ethan (Dennis Quaid) takes him in. $10 bucks for anyone who knows how this story turns out.
There’s very little in “A Dog’s Purpose” that is suspenseful or even intriguing and it’s not supposed to be, I guess. However, a lot of the plot development comes from a mile away and the whole movie by the end becomes condescending. As a dog lover, it breaks my heart, but my cynicism won over.
What is a dog’s purpose? Eat, sleep, fetch and be a good dog for its owner, not dabble in existential mumbo jumbo that attempts to pass as family entertainment.
Rated PG for thematic elements and some peril.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.