A Dog’s Purpose can still be a good movie


Katie Whaley

From the playful orca in Free Willy to the mischievous golden retriever in Marley & Me, audiences love movies filled with adorable animals. The box office treasures the movies as well, as many animal-driven films make an average profit of $400 million. Recently, however, the off-camera treatment of these furry actors has been called into question.
This interest began Jan. 18 when controversial footage from the making of A Dog’s Purpose was leaked. The video appeared to show a German shepherd struggling against a trainer during filming of the movie. The scene called for the dog, Hercules, to swim in a pool, and in the video it is clear that he was uncomfortable with the task and was panicking as the trainer pushed him in.
After seeing the clip, many people were outraged at the way the situation was handled. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protested A Dog’s Purpose, saying no one should see the movie at all. They voiced their opinion on Twitter, tweeting for people to boycott the movie entirely.
Though animal care is important, a small incident in the filming of a movie should not change the reputation of the finished product as groups like PETA may suggest. In other words, a movie can still be a great, quality film, even when mistakes behind the scenes happen.
Many things can go wrong in the behind-the-scenes of a movie. In the filming of the Death Cure, actor Dylan O’Brien suffered injuries from a car crash, yet the movie is still highly anticipated by many. While shooting a scene for Now You See Me in a water tank, actress Isla Fisher nearly drowned, yet the film won multiple awards, one being People’s Choice Best Thriller of the Year. Accidents like these happen, that is life. What happened to Hercules was also a mistake that shouldn’t have received such negative responses. As shown in the movies above, errors made while filming should not discredit all the other work that went into the making of the film.
The difference between those examples and A Dog’s Purpose is that the animal actor had been harmed by a trainer and not a mistake in the shooting sequence. Yes, positive treatment of animals is important and people responsible for those animals on movie sets should stride to take care of them. But what happened in A Dog’s Purpose’s case should not disparage the entire film like PETA had claimed. This small snapshot of a singular mistake, which the producers of the movie said was a one-time accident, should not be enough to ruin the movie.
Like in all other places in life, movies have unfortunate incidents, and one example of a great movie that had an episode with an animal actor is Life of Pi. In this film, the real-life Bengal tiger nearly drowned in a water tank when its paw snagged on a catch rope. The incident was kept under wraps until after the film’s release, yet the general public had little reaction to the news once it was released. And, despite what had happened, the movie was included in 2012’s top 25 movies and won over 80 awards, including four Oscars. Even Rotten Tomatoes, who rated the movie 87 percent, said, “Life of Pi achieves the near impossible — it’s an astonishing technical achievement that’s also emotionally rewarding.” The success of Life of Pi proves A Dog’s Purpose and other movies where accidents happen on set should have the opportunity to achieve similar rewards.
While it is important that animals are well-treated and cared for, such small incidents should not determine the quality of a film or hold a movie back from achievement. People should not focus on these accidents. Instead, they should grab a box of popcorn and enjoy the movie.
What do you think? Should what happened behind the scenes affect change perceptions about the movie itself? Leave a comment below!