“A Dog’s Purpose:” it’s not worth the abused dogs or admission price


By IAN LACK Reporter

Editor’s Note: The grading system used here is similar to the 10-point scale used in SDSU courses.


Spoiler alert: I’m a cat person.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate dogs and can even appreciate movies about them. But at the end of the day, if I have to choose between a lovable, sloppy dog and an ill-tempered cat with untrimmed claws, I’m still going to take the cat.

That being said, I still should not have been as bored and irritated as I was sitting through this family flick.

While “A Dog’s Purpose” is certainly a good-intentioned, family-friendly flick, the film ultimately boils down to a story stuffed with silly puns, while unfortunately venturing into emotional manipulation.

“A Dog’s Purpose” follows the story of a dog, Bailey (Josh Gad), as he grows up beside his owner, a young Ethan (Bryce Gheisar), who rescues Bailey from a hot car. As teenage Ethan (KJ Apa) transitions into high school and falls in love with a girl, Hannah (Britt Robertson), Bailey grows old and dies.

Yes, dies! Don’t worry though, he returns as another dog. As Ellie, a female German Shepherd, the dog begins the second life with a new owner, Carlos (John Ortiz), a widower police officer. But Bailey, now Ellie, dies again after tragically being shot while attempting to save a drowning girl.

After being born again as a corgi named Tino (and, yes, dying again), Bailey ends up in a new body and finds his original owner, Ethan. Bailey is able to communicate to Ethan that he was his childhood pet, Bailey. Ethan takes this information and does precisely nothing with it.

The irritating part of this film’s plot is the entire plot itself. The film is effective at spurring emotions out of you, but at a cheap cost – they’re killing dogs – repeatedly.

My emotional response to a great scene should be the payoff of a well-deserved, well-written build-up. Sacrificing dogs in a story plot is just a cheap ploy to gain empathy from an audience. Everyone can relate to saying goodbye to a pet.

Finally, this film cannot be discussed without mentioning the controversy surrounding it. TMZ obtained and released footage of one of the dogs in the film, a German Shepherd, being forcibly put in rushing water as well as being submerged under the waves in the pool.

Regardless of the sensationalism behind the release of the video and the specifics of it, any animal that’s forcibly mistreated in the filming of a movie is unacceptable, regardless of whose fault the mistreatment is.

Ultimately, no one can be surprised that “A Dog’s Purpose” is a mundane and lifeless film. The trailers made it seem like a Hallmark flick with a slightly bigger budget and Dennis Quaid.

If you’re looking for a good cry fest, this one’s for you. But, there are better options available.

“La La Land,” now Academy Award nominated a record-tying 14 times, just hit Brookings Cinema 8 this week. “Hidden Figures,” nominated three times, would also make for a better time at the cinema.

Ian Lack is a visual editor at The Collegian and can be reached at [email protected]