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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "A Dog's Purpose"

Animal companions are a beautiful thing. Personally, without the two furballs that allow me to live in their home (remember: dogs have owners; cats have staff), I am not sure how my life would be. Especially being a guy that does not have children, they are truly my family and even though they will never get jobs or leave the nest, they are still my boys. The deep connection with pets is very interestingly explored in the 2011 book “A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans” by W. Bruce Cameron as the story of Bailey and his spirit travels through multiple lives and owners, ultimately showing how destiny can work in anyone’s lives.

The film version is brought to life by Lasse Hallstrom, veteran director of films from “Chocolat” to “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “The Cider House Rules,” with Bailey’s voice provided by Josh Gad. Bailey spends a lot of his/her (and yes, both genders are represented in Bailey’s many lives on Earth) early time with Ethan (mostly played by “Riverdale” lead K.J. Apa, although he is represented at multiple times in his young life) and even though Bailey takes on many different forms, Gad does a near perfect job capturing the essence of the character in each and every dog his spirit becomes. From what is seen as the all-American family to becoming a Chicago police dog for Carlos (John Ortiz) to a college student named Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and even stints in between, this film had me laughing one moment and feeling the heartbreak of Bailey and everyone around him when he would transition from one life to the next. (And yes, I was teary-eyed on more than one occasion here. Not afraid to admit it.)

If there is one thing I would like to have seen different here, it would be a bit more of an investment into the middle stories. For those that are uneducated with where the film goes, it kind of telegraphs the ending by rushing most of its storylines to get to where it is going, and I feel that this does the story a disservice. To see more how Bailey truly affects ALL of the lives he encounters would have made this film even better for me, but it did not affect me enough to not absolutely adore “A Dog’s Purpose”.

If you are the kind of person that does not do well with public emotion, you still need to see this film even if it is in the privacy of your own home. “A Dog’s Purpose” packs a huge emotional punch, but I felt wonderfully purged by the time the lights came up in the theater that I have not felt in a long time. Even though this film is a bit mired in controversy, please do not let that deter you from seeing it. It is a story whose themes of family, love, and devotion appeal to all of us on the most basic of levels and should be enjoyed by everyone and anyone in any form that you can get to it.

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