One thing that A Dog’s Purpose was not short of just prior to it’s US release in January, was controversy. A video which appeared to depict a German Shepherd being forced by a handler to go into water – which it was clearly distressed about – coloured a lot of peoples opinions without them setting foot in the cinema; many choosing to boycott the movie entirely.
I’ve seen the footage and certainly at first glance it seems pretty indicting; As ever, this is not the whole story though. Not only was the video shot out of context, but some ‘clever’ editing was employed to make things seem much worse than they really were. Don’t get me wrong, the handler in the video is clearly not behaving properly – but the actual events fall well short of abuse. Unfortunately the damageÂ has been done now and this is likely to follow the film around like a bad smell. This is a real shame, because A Dog’s Purpose is a great film for dog lovers everywhere.
There have been plenty of ‘talking dog’ movies in the past, including live action. Actually, there are dozens of recent examples. None of them can be considered in any way good. I believe both myself and my partner were thinking the same thing – was this going follow in the footsteps of those films which end up being neglected even in the 99p binÂ in the local filling station. It was a pleasant surprise that this would have been worth the full price of admission (if we didn’t have ‘Limitless’ of course!).
Lasse HallstrÃ¶mÂ was the top dogÂ of this heartwarming tail (sic) and he’s no stranger to the canineÂ movie universe. Also behind the highly related Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (rated in the top 200 movies on IMDB) and My Life as a Dog (Winner of a Golden Globe), it’s pretty clear that HallstrÃ¶m is a bit of a dog lover. It’s no surprise that this comes across in spades in A Dog’s Purpose and if you have a similar doggy persuasion then this is absolutely one for you.
I’ll give fair warning, if you shed a tear during K9 make sure you’ve ordered a crate of Man Size ready for this. Animals passing on screen is somehow worse than that of humans, at least for me. Whether that due to their innocence or something else I don’t know but I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this. Caveat Emptor.
The story is narrated in the form of inner monologue by Josh Gad (Frozen, Beauty and the Beast) over the five different ‘lifetimes’ of our hero pup, who struggles to find what his purpose is in life. It’s also a very human story of a boy who’s father descends in alcoholism and how life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye.
For interest,Â the very last movie I sawÂ #33: Their FinestÂ had music crafted by the same Rachel Portman as this one. It’s a decent score and worked very well; it’s not what I’d call memorable but this shouldn’t be seen as critical – it’s not unexpected given the type of film.
Personally, I thought that this film was brilliantly executed and is one I’d happily go and watch again and again.
My rating: 9/10 – A demonstration of why a dog is Man’s best friend