Director: Lasse Hallström
Cast: Josh Gad, Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson, K.J. Apa, John Ortiz, Juilet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Peggy Lipton, Pooch Hall
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins
Released By: UIP
Official Website: http://www.adogspurposemovie.com
Opening Day: 2 March 2017
Synopsis: Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose, 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. The family film told from the dog’s perspective also stars Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton, Britt Robertson, K.J. Apa, Juilet Rylance, Luke Kirby, John Ortiz and Pooch Hall.
“Why am I here?”
“What is life all about?”
“What is the purpose of my existence?”
Since time immemorial, the meaning of life has been deliberated by many – great philosophers, thought leaders, acclaimed writers, etc. Existential crisis is nothing too foreign, and is an integral part of the human experience. But have you ever thought if animals would think about it too? Are you curious to know the sentiment of your pet dog? A dog deliberating about its purpose on earth (repeatedly) – that’s the narrative of this movie.
As you would have guessed, A Dog’s Purpose, as with many other dog-related titles, sells well. The novel not only topped the New York Time charts for the best-selling title for 49 weeks, it was also highly praised by animal experts. Similar success should be seen for the movie, since no one can really resist the cute fur animals. However, just prior to the film’s scheduled theatrical release at Los Angeles, a footage alleging animal abuse on the movie set was shared on TMZ (a popular celebrity news website).
It sparked quite an outrage, and even got the schedule postponed, but the scandal didn’t quite stop the reception at the ticket box office. As reported at end of February, the movie has already grossed $77.4 million worldwide, which is more than 3 times its production cost. This speaks volume for the movie. Additionally, independent third-party animal cruelty experts also took turns to speak up for the production, asserting that the video must have been deliberately edited to mislead public.
Beyond all these sensationalization of ‘news’, what the movie did achieve was to bring out the interactions between the dogs and its owners. Quite a significant population of people have a special affection with dogs, especially if they had owned one. So it was very fascinating to hear the dogs taking the first-person narrative about the human world.
While there are many movies out there like Hachiko and movies which personifies animals (Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets – just to name a few), a dog’s purpose had a unique angle. With pun intended, it used the dog’s angle, i.e. point-of-view shot from the dog, to relay the story. It weaved in well with the story and the voiceovers by Josh Gad was brilliant. He definitely deserves credit having played an anchoring role, in bringing out the emotions so effectively and vividly. The adorable and irresistibly cute footages accented it too.
Another highlight of the movie was having the stories span across different time periods as the dog goes through the ‘incarnations’. From 1960s all the way to modern times, much detail was put into the artifacts. It may not be the award winning kind of cinematic sequence, but it was a neat ‘time travel’ through the different lives of a dog.
Regardless if you’re a dog person, you will enjoy this movie. Learning the human world through the mind of a dog was a refreshing concept. The ups and downs of the different dog lives may also trigger some good memories you have shared with your dog. In all, an endearing and heart-warming movie, perfect for a light-hearted watch!
(If you were ever curious of the mind of a dog, this is a must-watch for you!)
Review by Tho Shu Ling