‘A Dog’s Purpose’ shows flawed print to film adaptation


photo credit to Joe Lederer/Universal Pictures

Grace Dorsey

A Dog’s Purpose’s simple and sentimental storyline seemed better suited to watch on a couch at home than a movie theater. Right off the bat, one of the best parts of the movie were the dogs themselves. The way they interacted with the other actors was natural, and there was only a hint of inauthenticity/training in a couple of scenes.
Of course for dog lovers, the film’s target audience, there were scenarios dog owners can relate to, like when Bailey makes a mess, which catered toward nostalgia of childhood pets, and therefore contributed to the emotional impact.
The human actors are wonderful as well, and the three different people who played Ethan portrayed the character seamlessly. The illusion of time passing was created nicely and the switch from one era to the next didn’t seem abrupt or disjunctive. The changes from each of Bailey’s lifetimes are all connected through the voice actor, which made understanding the plot easy for those who haven’t read the book.
Humor is utilized throughout, which is a necessary element to balance all the emotional scenes. It is also refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t rely on millions of dollars spent on special effects or incredible violence to draw in an audience. The film quality is superb, and the lighting reflected the tone of each scene.
On the other hand, a Dog’s Purpose isn’t a successful print to screen adaptation. The book is full of details, and leads the reader through the twists and turns of life, with perfect pacing of happy and sad moments. In comparison, the movie seemed rushed especially when it came to the scenes surrounding Bailey’s time without Ethan.
In some places, however, there was too much time spent on one theme or scene. This meant that the viewer had hardly enough time to recover from one of Bailey’s lives ending because another sad scene would come up right after it. Oftentimes it feels that the movie uses stereotypical situations, such as the death of a beloved pet, to cheaply evoke emotion from the audience, though this method did work to a degree.
Overall, this movie isn’t quite worth the trip to the movie theater, but is a perfect family friendly flick to watch at home.
Did you see it? What did you think?