By: Felix Felicis (Four Beers) –
Dogs are unconditional love with a tail and you cannot tell me that my dog isn’t a human being who happens to lack opposable thumbs. Nobody’s perfect. Certainly the overly schmaltzy, emotionally manipulative tearjerker that is A Dog’s Purpose narrated by Olaf (Josh Gad) from Frozen wasn’t. Cards on the table, due to like three different illnesses trying to kill me right now and the five different, though equally fun, prescription medications that are making me feel floaty like that house from Up, this review may or may not make oranges. I mean sense.
A Dog’s Purpose follows Bailey (aka Boss Dog) as he illustrates the existential crisis that plagues us as a society (and he will ram this down your throat repeatedly throughout the film like a competitive hot dog eater shoving that last bun in before the buzzer) “Why are we here?”. We follow Bailey through his first life as BFF to Ethan (played by several actors ultimately ending with an adult Dennis Quaid in the final act) as he wonders what he’s there to do (other than matchmaking Ethan with his high school sweetheart and saving the family from a massive house fire before peacefully passing in his first life at the vet after a tearful goodbye with his boy). This is the part where you start crying and never stop. Ish. “Bailey” will reincarnate several times over the course of the film to touch a human life for the better in some way before, much like Homeward Bound: Reincarnation, finding his way back home and to his original human (whom he never forgot) Ethan and realizing his true purpose in the end.
The most fun I had during this movie was live-tweeting it though I WILL admit there were a couple cute moments with the admittedly well-trained dogs interacting with their humans. But that’s like setting a blind guy with a bat loose in a warehouse full of piñatas- he’s bound to hit SOMETHING eventually. Every emotionally resonant scene in A Dog’s Purpose is carefully crafted and lacking in anything resembling soul, much like a dealer’s choice Kardashian.
This movie lacks creativity in every possible way. I couldn’t even make it ten pages into the source material (Bruce Cameron’s novel by the same name) before giving up due to massive levels of disinterest so I’m not surprised the lack of fucks given to the silver screen adaptation is consistent. The feels are fuzzy, the dogs are cute and each life Bailey lives is meaningful thus leading him to the preachy revelation about his true purpose in life (which is some zen bullshit philosophical circle jerk on the magic of life). Fucking rent the Lion King and Hakuna Matata yourself on out of an a”meh”zing waste of time and money.
The pacing in A Dog’s Purpose is glacial. The film spends overly long on Bailey’s first life establishing the “Ethan and Bailey BFF” connection while also wallowing in the delightfully alkie dad’s spiral into Boozeville that ultimately does nothing to drive the narrative forward in any meaningful way. Yay? The next few lives feel rushed and glossed over in an unevenly spaced allotment of time before the final life that reunites Bailey with his boy. If I wanted to be jerked around this much without ultimately being satisfied I’d be in a relationship, or at the very least on Tinder.
Ah narration my old, cinematic crutch of a foe. Voice casting aside (I’m sorry, Josh Gad is a delightful person but having Olaf from Frozen giving me sage lessons on the true purpose of life is next level-distractingly obnoxious) the narration here is literally the only thing holding together a patchwork quilt of disparate canine-related vignettes (and that’s not saying much). Take a rusty spork. Jam it in your eye. Congrats. You’ve achieved the same mind-numbingly soul-sucking lack of entertainment present in A Dog’s Purpose.
If you’re into manufactured emotional whiplash and crying in public then this tearjerker for pooch-inclined peeps may just be the perfect pick for you! Otherwise, go see the Vinsanity that’s happening with xXx: The Return of Xander Cage in theaters now. You could also high-five a cactus. Both are better decisions.
A Dog’s Purpose (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every reincarnation.
Take a Sip: whenever the narration mentions a dog’s purpose.
Take a Drink: anytime “Bailey” does something heroic.
Shotgun your Beer: when you find out what a dog’s purpose truly is.