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Friday, March 30, 2018

Movie Review: A Dog's Purpose

Please note: I wrote this review over a year ago and it was previously published in my university's newspaper, The ArkaTech. 

I am a cat person through and through. I like dogs well enough, but I never thought I wanted to watch a movie from a dog's perspective. The only reason I agreed to watch Lasse Halstrom's “A Dog's Purpose” (based off of W. Bruce Cameron's book of the same name) is because my canine-loving friend was having a bad day. I didn't want to enjoy the movie and I certainly didn't want to weep throughout seventy-five percent of it, but alas! My wants were irrelevant in that dark theater. Halstrom presents a maelstrom of feelings with this one, and, of course, adorable dogs.

As the title implies, “A Dog's Purpose” is about a dog named Bailey searching for his purpose in a large, confusing world. We get to see several of Bailey's lives—which means we get to see several of his deaths as well—and follow along as he serves loyally as each owner's side, with a delightful voice over to let us know what's going on inside Bailey's head.

It seems like a fairly simple story, and in some ways it is. I won't deny that this film has clich√© and predictable moments, but that doesn't mean it is without complexities. For a large portion of the film, Bailey grows up alongside Ethan, a little boy who saves him from dying of dehydration in a hot vehicle. Bailey is Ethan's best friend; the two go everywhere together. As Ethan enters his teen years, his life becomes more complicated—with his family, with girls, and with sports—but Bailey loves him unconditionally. This is one of the most heart-warming friendships I've ever witnessed in film, and I became much more invested in it than I care to admit. When their time together comes to an end, I lost any composure I was maintaining. I couldn't collect myself, either. Each new death Bailey experienced tore me to pieces all over again.

As much as I loved Bailey's life with Ethan, I thoroughly enjoyed his other lives as well. We get to see a nice diverse cast of characters and lifestyles, from police drug dog to lonely girl's comfort animal. It was precious to see the different ways this dog affects the people he loves. Also, the variety of dogs were all just incredibly cute and worthy of many loving sighs.

While it's admittedly strange to go on a journey of self-discovery with a dog, Halstrom manages to make it poignant and insightful. I think it would be quite challenging not to be charmed by this movie—trust me, I tried. If, for whatever reason, you need a good cry, this is probably the film you want to turn to. I experienced a lot of emotions throughout, but I left the theater feeling genuinely joyful and satisfied.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read what I have to say and give your opinion on it. It really means a lot to me. And of course, I will do my best to return the favor. However, as easily distracted and scatter-brained as I am, please don't be offended if I forget to comment on your blog.