‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Movie Review

Genres: Drama, Dogs

Rating: Recommended with Reservations

Here’s the TL;DR for my review (SPOILERS!):

  • Pros
    • Lots of dogs. The dogs all did an excellent job of performing their various doggy-parts in the story.
    • I liked how this movie approached the passage of time. The dog’s myopic view of events around him really left the viewer guessing what would happen next.
  • Mixed
    • Some of the human acting was good, some was so-so.
    • While the message was wholesome, the movie overall had a bittersweet tone to it.
  • Cons
    • The dog dies. Repeatedly.
    • The human narration of the dog’s internal thoughts never quite clicked with me.
    • The movie’s special effects were a bit cliche and out of place.

Here’s a short review for a movie.

I liked the various plotarcs. This was a combination of five plotarcs, one occuring chronologically after the other, each featuring the reincarnation of the same dog but in a different body. The human actors by and large did a good job conveying a story through only a few scenes and lines of dialog, and the dog-actors played their roles quite well.

The cinematography and set designs had their moments too. While it wasn’t always perfect, I thought that a lot of the scenes were very well shot and reflected the tone of the story. The K9 dog-cop scenes reminded me of ‘CSI: New York’, the down on the farm scenes reminded me of ‘Old Yeller,’ the college student scenes reminded me of my time in college, the scenes set in the 1950’s reminded me of ‘Grease.’ It was a bit ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ but I got enough of a sense of each setting to flavor the story.

This show was frequently very sad. The dog dies no fewer than four times. Sure the dog is reincarnated promptly after, but I like dogs. This was tough to watch at times. I couldn’t help but see my Sawyer die again and again while watching this show.

I also didn’t like the dog’s internal thoughts. The dog had a human narrator speak the dog’s lines, anthopomorphizing the dog with human-ish motivations. For me at least, this anthropomorphizing never quite clicked with me. I would have liked it better if the director/scriptwriter took a more nuanced style and never had the dog speak for himself. This would have made the dog seem more dog-like. Dogs are fun; I wanted to watch a movie with a dog-seeming protagonist and not a human-seeming protagonist.

I enjoyed this movie net total, and if this movie was playing on an airplane I was in I’d watch it again. Just be prepped for a somewhat bittersweet affair which doesn’t always have the technical chops for what it’s going for.


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