Verdict: A cute movie but a weak plot.
Movies starring dogs are like movies based on sports – if you get a few emotions correct, it doesn't take much to engage the audience. A Dog's Purpose has its moments but it fails to form a steady connection with us, unfortunately.
Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) is a playful pup who has Ethan as his human. They grow up together and are best friends. Ethan plays football and, like all dogs, Bailey is dedicated to keeping his human happy. Ethan and Bailey spend a lot of time together and do a lot of fun things like going on drives and playing fetch with a deflated football. He can sense when Ethan is sad and he will go to any lengths for his human (major aww right here). Ethan starts dating Hannah (Britt Robertson), whom he spots at a local carnival, and the both grow very fond of each other. Bailey likes how Hannah smells (like biscuits) and Hannah is attached to Bailey as well. Ethan has an alcoholic father and prefers spending time with Bailey and Hannah. One night, things turn a little violent and Ethan throws his father out of their country house. Over the next few days, things take an unpleasant turn and Ethan loses his college scholarship and breaks up with Hannah. Hannah pursues her education in Michigan, while Ethan attends an agricultural college in order to work on his uncle's farm. Meanwhile, Bailey's health deteriorates because of loneliness and he passes away. Bailey reincarnates as a series of (adorable!) dogs before he can serve his purpose. Such is the story of A Dog's Purpose.
A Dog's Purpose was in the news recently for some questionable filmmaking practices. Even if you completely ignore that fact, the movie still lacks the charm and ingenuity you'd expect after watching the trailer. The story is choppy and it seems like the movie just wants to somehow reach the end. The plot relies a lot on us believing all the coincidences that occur, and there are a lot of them. The story is ho-hum and the human characters don't resonate with us much, except for a few moments here and there.
However, the credits must be given where due. The narrative is pretty interesting and it's nice to see a dog tell us his story. There are a few emotional moments that will make you hide your tear-stained face (it's a dog movie…what did you expect).
The star of the movie is Bailey and the various dogs he is born as. There is no escaping those gooey, caramel eyes and the cute wet nose. It actually seems like the dogs are emoting and that's a major plus.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
If you love dogs, this movie is for you. You are going to enjoy the first half a lot. It makes for a fun one-time watch with your family over the weekend.