A Dog’s Purpose

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

A Dog's Purpose

A conversation is running through the movie world about the pros and cons of seeing A Dog’s Purpose. Naysayers tend to be people who regard themselves as too sophisticated to endure a sentimental movie devoted to dogs. Consider the alternative. Imagine a theater full of parents with children, teenagers, and adults of all ages. What happens? Ripples of laughter, sighs of appreciation, silence when tears come. My suggestion: If you have ever loved a dog, chuck your doubts and go. If you disapprove of sentimentality, just stuff it and go. Chances are you’ll love it in spite of yourself.

Five scriptwriters and director Lasse Hallstrom have created a story about a dog who moves through reincarnations in four bodies and tells us about what he learns in each life. Dogs and human actors, all of them, are thoroughly on board with the premise. In his first life, Bailey (a retriever) lives with Ethan (K.J. Apa) and also gets to know Ethan’s girlfriend Hannah (Britt Robertson). His second unfolds as a German shepherd mastered by a lone policeman (John Ortiz). In his third, he is a Corgi, and his fourth – well, you’ll find out about that one. You’ll love Dennis Quaid and Peggy Lipton who create two people who have suffered without ever surrendering their dreams.

We listen to animal and human thoughts through Bailey’s four lives and we learn with great pleasure and sometimes with sadness about the interplay between them. How does each change the life of the other and what goes on while they are together. If you are a dog lover, you will love watching what Bailey, in his four selves, teaches people and what they teach him.

Much of the fun comes from sharing the movie with an audience made up of many ages. Loving a dog at some time in your life is a warm common bond. Credit an enormous number of people for making that happen. Director, cast, the dogs, and perhaps most of all, those five scriptwriters who do a terrific job on the dialogue of the dogs and their masters. All of it unfolds to a just right score assembled by music supervisor Gedney Webb.

We root for Bailey as he adjusts to life with each of his new masters. He analyzes them for us in short, often comical judgements. He is a dog looking for the purpose of his life through several lifetimes and several owners. Will there be a next round for us? If you’ve loved a dog, or loved and lost one, you’ll be happy to smile a lot, cry a little and you’ll be especially grateful to Director Lasse Hallstrom for making that happen. C’mon people, abandon your sophisticated self and enjoy the story of one fine dog working his way through several lives while looking for his purpose. There aren’t many times when you can sit in an audience of all ages that finds a movie irresistible. Try it.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : A Dog’s Purpose
Word Count : 496
Running time: 1:40
Rating : PG
Date : February 5, 2017