This movie annoying to me. All this movie wanted was to say for an hour and a half “Dogs are cute and awesome.” And ya know what? I like dogs. Dogs are cute. I have a dog. Josh Gad voicing a dog obnoxiously for 100 minutes is not cute and becomes very grating, very quickly to the point where I am so thankful I can’t hear my dog’s thoughts or I would sell her in a heartbeat after watching this movie. The story revolves around the spirit that goes from one dog’s life to the next from birth to death each time. And there’s about approximately 45 minutes of an actual, relatively consistent story line and the rest is a number of mini vignettes involving people who get a dog where the only connecting link is that Josh Gad is the soul that inhabits all of these different dogs…and it’s thin. Watch more:
It is real thin and feels like an excuse to loosely stitch together an anthology film. It doesn’t make any sense and feels like they couldn’t finish the main story, so the writer’s attempt to fix it was to include other stories that involve a dog and insert a soul that transfers between them. It comes across as a lazy storytelling handicap and really annoying to hear Josh Gad’s voice interrupting moments that have potential to be effective, but aren’t. The main story is about Ethan growing up in the 1950s or 1960s (I think) who gains a Golden Retriever, named Bailey, becoming close with over the years. The initial arch is a brief coming of age story with Ethan as his canine companion accompanies him during his times of struggle with things such as his alcoholic father or his up-sides of going through his first love. The first act comes to a halt when Ethan’s leg is injured, which was extremely predictable the second the film revealed that he plays football and received a full ride scholarship. Rest in peace, Ethan’s leg who’s only crime was to be included in cliché screen writing. Because of his injury he becomes a grump, pushes away his girlfriend, and is forced to go to a different college. Bailey begins dying of old age shortly after Ethan leaves for college, which did have the potential to be effective. I mean, it’s a dog dying and unless you have no heart then that is a heart wrenching topic that most can relate to. Unfortunately it has Josh Gad randomly voicing over the dog to either… A) Make a dumb joke that completely ruins the tone. B) Read off lines that are so “on-the-nose” trying to make the audience go “aww” that actually results in an eye roll. C) Spurt out awfully, pretentious dialog to come off as “real deep, philosophical ideas” deliberately made to be trailer lines but is the stereotypical crap you’d hear from a coffee shop poet that can’t get work. Every single time Gad opened his mouth I wanted to put the movie on mute. Next up a K9 police dog who is trained by a cop and goes out on patrol with him and lives with him in some time in the 1970s. Quickly skimming through this section, the dog (now named Ellie) of course dies again with this time getting shot. However it’s near impossible to feel anything because of, well Josh Gad of course, but also it’s as if death loses all meaning in this film since we know he’s just going to get brought back to life again. See more:
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Which he does, this time in the 1980s where Gad is now a Corgi (new name escapes me…Toby? Let’s go with Toby) being owned by a lonely girl in college. Starting with her being single, to falling in love with a guy at her college, to having children. “Toby” eventually grows old, dies and is reborn again to be owned by a couple of drug addicts where he is left outside all the time. This small section is kind of depressing, even with Josh Gad interrupting as you see time pass by while the dog just sits outside until one of the addicts brings the dog out into the middle of nowhere and leaves him. From there, Gad Dog miraculously finds his was back to the original plot with Ethan now being played by Dennis Quaid. Quaid learns to love again, becomes close with Gad Dog (now named Buddy) which re-introduces Quaid with his first girlfriend, Peggy Lipton. Buddy proves to Quaid that he’s Bailey through a rather unconvincing sequence. And the movie ends…that’s that. “A Dog’s Purpose” has zero structure to it and includes too many forced scenes. Maybe it works better in its original source material, but in the movie it feels forced and lazy. There are parts of the main story that could have worked if more time was devoted to it and the anthology idea was scrapped completely…as well as the annoying narration by Josh Gad. Gad making really dumb jokes, especially really dumb jokes at the wrong times…like when the dog is dying…kills this movie. The film struggles with tone, mainly due to the narration. Plus I have no idea how this whole soul transferring thing works or why, appearing as many years pass by before this soul manifests itself again into another dog. Are there large chunks of time that we’re missing? Or does it really cut from the 70s to the 2000s that fast for him? The inclusion of this narration raises more questions than it answers for me. If someone likes this movie, I can guess why. Dogs are cute and the narration probably doesn’t bother them. That’s fine. I will not take that away from anyone who enjoys this movie. I think dogs are cute too, but there are way better dog movies out there. Hell, there are better talking dog movies that I like way more than this.