‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Review Roundup: Sickeningly Sweet Just To Make You Cry
A Dog’s Purpose, rated PG, follows a dog named Bailey (and later Buddy, Tino, and Ellie) through various reincarnations of pups. Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) learns through his experiences with his human owners, particularly his first owner Ethan (KJ Apa) the purpose of his own existence. Bailey finds his way back to Ethan (the older version now played by Dennis Quaid), prompting more “Awws” and tears. The sappy film, based on the book and screenplay by Bruce Cameron, while sweet, scored just a 32% on rottentomatoes.com.
Since filming, footage has emerged of one of the acting German shepherds being forced to jump into turbulent water to perform a rescue scene. The dog was allegedly being forced against its will and mocked before ultimately doing the scene. While evidence of animal abuse has not been confirmed, the knowledge of that has tainted most reviews, with good reason.
A DOG’S PURPOSE REVIEW ROUNDUP
“This movie has its moments—no movie with such an adorable array of pooches could not, plus Mr. Quaid, who in addition to being movie-star handsome is also a pretty good actor, sells his fifteen or so onscreen minutes. But the tonal weirdness and the philosophical fallacies and the general level of treacle did not sit very well with me. Then again, I have to admit I’m really more of a cat person.”
–Glenn Kenny, rogerebert.com
“It’s a well-done film, and the question then becomes whether or not it will be to your taste. If you’re up for an overdose of crowning moments of heartwarming, then this is the film for you; if not, you’d best give it a wide berth.”
–Sarah Boslaugh, Playback
“A manipulative script about dog reincarnation that whacks your emotions like a piñata – that’s forgivable. Not this. It shouldn’t happen to a dog.”
–Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Dog movies get a bad rap, and they’re certainly not easy to make, or make well. Maybe they’re a like a doggie lick in the face, a little annoying and a little wonderful, and, depending on the moment, they can elicit a frown or a smile. This one gets a smile.”
–Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
“This dumb, sweet, indulgently weepy movie has all but disappeared in the hubbub over the controversial viral video of a stunt dog — a German shepherd — being forced by his handler into a pool of churning water… But let’s move on to the actual A Dog’s Purpose playing in theaters. The movie wouldn’t tax the intelligence of a flea — it’s about a dog, reborn through many canine lives, in search of meaning and happiness — but even so it succeeds on its own, Kleenex-consuming terms. Purpose… makes you cry, over and over, because of how upsetting it is to see any dog, young or old, lay down its noble, dutiful, trusting head and quietly submit to death. This is foolproof, sob-generating stuff.”
–Tom Gliatto, People