A Dog's Purpose

Monday, 8 May 2017

My mother and I are glutons for punishment, it would seem, and so we went to see A Dog's Purpose in the cinema. Bear in mind that we are two people that consistently cry at the end of Homeward Bound when Shadow can't make it out of the pit and when Peter thinks he was too old to make it home. Then he limps over the hill. Cue us bawling our eyes out. Can you just imagine what we're going to be like watching this movie?

My mum is a sucker for anything to do with dogs. She is constantly reading books about dogs and so when she saw the trailer for this movie, she said that we had to go see it. Then cue me asking her if that was a good idea because we both know that we'll end up crying in public. 

A Dog's Purpose follows puppy Bailey (for the sake of argument, we'll stick with that name) as he lives through 5 lives over the course of 50 years, in order to answer the question, what is the meaning of life? With each reincarnation he meets a new human and in turn teaches them how to love and how to laugh. In one life, he finds a kindred spirit in a young boy, Ethan Montgomery and as he grows older, the dog comes back into his life, reunited once again to teach him.

Naturally, walking into this movie, I knew that in order to be reincarnated, the dog would have to die first. I cannot handle those kind of scenes even when I know the dog is an actor. I cannot even get through an episode Supervet or Vet on the Hill without welling up or blubbering. With that being said, I spent a lot of time during this movie in tears. I mean, a waterfall streaming from each eye. I'm so glad that I brought tissues with me. I was prepared. 

Within the dogs that Bailey is reincarnated, I could see elements of my two dogs. They have the same eye movements, the same facial expressions, the same little legs and adorable paws. In terms of Toby, the same insatiable appetite and the same loyalty. In terms of Millie, the insistence on playing. 

I love all of the lives that Bailey lives. Each of them were heartbreaking in their own way. I felt for each owner that had Bailey in their lives. Then I wanted to run the douchebag over that abandoned him. But it all worked out for Bailey in the end. 

As for the human actors, I was very happy to see Dennis Quaid back on the big screen. My mum turned to me at the end and asked who he was and why she recognised him. The Parent Trap.

The dog performers were fabulous. I don't know how the trainers get the dogs to do what they do. I can barely get my dogs to sit. The dogs were amazing. On a shallow note, I wanted to cuddle every single one of them.

Josh Gad is the internal voice of Bailey. Initially it felt as if Olaf was narrating but that quickly dissipated and Bailey really came to life. Gad's voice brought a lot of levity and brevity throughout the movie. He has great command over his voice. He knows when to be softer and when to hold back on the speed of his speaking and when to really go hyper with it. Excellent.

I enjoyed the storylines with each incarnation. The storyline with young Ethan was quite a cliché tale - the early 1960s household, the father working on the road and struggling with the beginning signs of alcoholism, the dog being a stray and then welcomed into the family and being a pal for the only child. It was a storyline that has been recycled often but when told from the dog's perspective, it seemed new and all the more impacting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and there were a lot of cry worthy moments and then a lot of laugh-out-loud moments where the dog was just too adorable and funny. I laughed more because the dog reminded me so much of my two dogs especially when he gave the 'puppy dog eyes' and then when he chased his tail. Millie is a great one for chasing her tail or her back leg. My favourite laugh-out-loud moment was when Bailey thought the cat was hiding from him, when it had actually died. So Bailey decided to find him, dig him up and show 'Mom' that he found the cat.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone that loves movies about dogs but be warned, have tissues handy,

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