A Dog’s Purpose

“A Dog’s Purpose” tells the story of a dog, voiced by Josh Gad (“Frozen”), who experiences several lifetimes with its owners.

The first dog was born from a mother dog and adopted by a child named Ethan who loves to play. He named the dog Bailey. As they grow up, Ethan and Bailey experience difficult times together, in the past, present and facing the future. They both know the day will come when they go their separate ways. When Ethan goes to college, Bailey is so lonely he becomes depressed.

The second dog is a German Shepherd whose owner is a police office. Over the course of his life, the dog faces the same depressive states as its owner and tried to make the owner happy. The officer and the dog were assigned to catch a bad guy who kidnapped a girl. As the officer captured the bad guy, the kidnapper pulls his gun, misses the officer and shoots the dog instead.

The third dog is a Chihuahua, owned by a college girl. While playing fetch, the dog meets another dog that is owned by a man the girl met on campus. The two dogs share a love interest and so do the owners, who later get married and have children. Everything goes well until the dog gets sick and dies. The other dog gets depressed and goes to sleep.

The fourth dog is a shelter dog and is adopted by a young girl whose father refuses to let the dog stay in the house and doesn’t want it around. As the years pass, the girl’s father takes the dog far away and abandons it. The dog walks around town trying to find a new owner. He picks up a familiar scent that happens to be Ethan’s girlfriend, Hannah, who he broke up with as young adults. Based on the scent, the dog travels to the farm to look for Ethan who doesn’t recognize him at first, but later adopts the dog and names him Buddy. Ethan teaches Buddy to play fetch and is reminded of his dog Bailey. Buddy goes on a search for Hannah and she, surprisingly, recognizes Buddy as Ethan’s dog by the collar. The film ends when Ethan and Hannah are reunited and get married.

This film was amazing since it combines elements of the film “Hachi” (also directed by Hallström) with sad scenes and heartwarming moments about the dogs and their owners. The film included a controversial scene in which one of the crew members forced the German Shepherd to swim underwater in a wave pool. The terrified dog nearly drowned before it was rescued by the crew.

My criticism is reserved for several specific scenes. I found it shocking to see that the German Shepherd was forced by swim by owners or trainers. The scenes in which the father treats the owner poorly and the scene involving the police dog being shot were also difficult to watch. I loved Ethan’s scenes and the love interest scenes, including the ending in which the humans become part of the dogs’ pack. It was a good movie for dog lovers.

Grade: A-