A Dog’s Purpose: To See Or Not To See The Movie

Ethan (DENNIS QUAID) bonds with BUDDY in “A Dog’s Purpose.” Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, the family film from director Lasse Hallström (“The Cider House Rules,” “Dear John,” “The 100-Foot Journey”) shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. Photo Credit: Joe Lederer.

A Dog’s Purpose opens in theaters this Friday but I am still not sure whether or not I’ll be seeing the movie.

Lasse Hallström directs from a screenplay written by W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon and Audrey Wells and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky. The script, in turn, was based on Cameron’s book. The movie, produced by Gavin Palone, stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, with Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad.

Cameron wrote his thoughts in an article appearing on USA Today. Hallström and Gad shared their thoughts, which can both be found at Deadline along with a statement from Amblin Entertainment. Dennis Quaid was interviewed by ET. Quaid told them that if he had seen any animal abuse, he “would have walked.”

What Quaid would tell to those who are on the fence about seeing the film:

“To them, I would say I know that no abuse occurred,” he reiterated. “What they saw was completely out of context. It was edited…and all of the footage I saw, the dog was going into the water happily and had to be restrained, actually, from going into the water many times during that day.”

Producer Gavin Palone penned a letter in The Hollywood Reporter on what really happened and who is to blame for the incident.

Last Thursday, I went to Amblin’s office and watched all the film shot on the day in question, as well as saw video from the trainers and still photographs. As with the TMZ video that you saw, two things were evident: 1) the dog handler tries to force the dog, for 35 to 40 seconds, into the water when, clearly, he didn’t want to go in; and 2) in a separate take filmed sometime later, the dog did go into the water, on his own, and, at the end, his head is submerged for about 4 seconds. These two things are absolutely INEXCUSABLE and should NEVER have happened.

The film is expected to open in 2,900 theaters. The production budget for the 2 hour film, produced by Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media, has not been announced. Universal Pictures canceled the premiere and the press junket.

While some critics have written their own opinions, like Richard Roeper, about how they will see and review the movie while keeping Hercules in mind, some have opted to skip the screenings this week and see or do something else instead.

I’m still weighing my own thoughts. On the one hand, if abuse did actually happen, why hold onto the video footage for a year? Why not go ahead and tell the authorities? The authorities should have been contacted if there was actual abuse. To not do so would only contribute to the neglect of the animals. That’s what a real animal lover would have done.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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