MOVIE GUY: A sweet dog’s life at the movies

Published 10:33 pm Thursday, January 26, 2017

If you are a dog lover, then you are probably aware of the new movie, “A Dog’s Purpose,” which is based on the best-selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron. This somewhat-comedic look at the interior life of man’s best friend is filled with everything from cute puppies to heroic police dogs with a lot of human-canine bonding in every frame in between.

If you’re a true dog lover, this may very well be your favorite film of all time. On the other hand, if you’re a cat lover, you’ll surely see that this movie is nothing more than rank canine propaganda.

Okay, so the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two points of view.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“A Dog’s Purpose” is a love letter to all things canine. The film gives us access to the inner monologue of a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) as he lives out multiple lives with the humans that he loves. He begins as a cute puppy, but then returns as a little boy’s beloved retriever, and again as a police dog, a cute little corgi and so on.

In each of these incarnations, Gad’s voiceover work is warm and generally amusing. It will certainly make you wonder what your dog would say if he could actually talk. The problem is that these monologues are purposefully simplistic, which makes for a simplistic drama. The emotional heft comes from the fact that these dogs have to die before they get the chance to be reborn as another doggie companion. If you think about that, things can get a little grim.

Director Lasse Hallstrom is smart enough to keep things moving along at a brisk pace that dwells mostly on the happy bond between humans and their pet dogs — or is it dogs and their pet humans? Either way, the film has an overall saccharine-sweet quality to it that will leave most jaded movie goers (and cats) rolling their eyes in dismay. On the other hand, dog lovers will certainly adore “A Dog’s Purpose.”

That is, they will love the film if they can separate it from the disturbing video that shows a behind-the-camera sequence during the movie’s production. The cell-phone clip that shows a terrified animal being forced into a water stunt merits genuine consideration before you decide whether or not you should support this film.

The bottom line is that if you are an animal lover, “A Dog’s Purpose” is tailor made to appeal to your love for your pets. You should love it, as long as you don’t dwell too much upon how the sausage is made.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at