A Dog’s Purpose: A Sentimental Tearjerker

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 is a sentimental tearjerker. It’s a film in which any animal lover will start to get emotional so be prepared by bringing some Kleenex tissues. If you don’t want to be seen crying in the theater, it would be wise to wait for the DVD.

Many people have already decided to boycott the film based on a highly edited video. That’s their loss. They chose to ignore the facts.

Lasse Hallström directs from a screenplay by W. Bruce Cameron & Cathryn Michon and Audrey Wells and Maya Forbes & Wally Wolodarsky. Cameron wrote the book in which the film was based.

Produced by Gavin Polone, the film stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Juliet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Peggy Lipton, Pooch Hall with Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad.

Bailey seeks to find the meaning of life and his own existence. He does so through all the humans that he interacts with through love and laughter. His story spans the course of five decades. Even as we see Bailey reincarnated through other canines during the course of the movie, it’s his unshakeable bond with Ethan that we never forget.

When Ethan (Bryce Gheisar), then 8 years old, and his mother (Juliet Rylance) see a golden retriever abandoned in a truck, they decide to adopt him. His father (Luke Kirby) has some hesitations but Ethan promises to do everything. During his teenage years, Ethan (KJ Apa) is rarely seen without Bailey by his side. Even when he meets Hannah (Britt Robertson) at the fair, it’s Bailey that makes the first move. The two are meant to be together but Ethan suffers a career-ending injury and breaks up with her. After he goes off to college, Bailey just isn’t the same and he just makes it back in time for that final goodbye. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be in tears.

Bailey gets reincarnated as Ellie, a German Shepherd K-9 first responder with the Chicago Police Department, and this is where the film draws controversy. Shortly thereafter, Bailey is reincarnated as a Corgi named Tino, and finally an Australian Shepherd/St. Bernard mix named Buddy. It’s through these lives that Bailey realizes what his purpose in life is.

In the final reincarnation depicted on screen, Bailey finds his way home to Ethan and finds a way to reunite Ethan with his high school sweetheart, Hannah.

Universal Pictures opened A Dog’s Purpose on January 27th.

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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