'A Dog's Purpose': Heart warming film (Review By Subhash K. Jha, Rating: ****)
This unabashed ode to canine affections is so pure at heart, you are inclined to overlook its syrupy over-sentimental tone of narration and look directly at a heart that beats purely for the sake of unconditional love.
"A Dog's Purpose" is a simple doggie's tale told with the kind of concise sighing punctuations that director Lasse Hallstrom ("The Cider House Rules", "An Unfinished Life", "The Hundred-Foot Journey") specialises in.
Here , in telling the story of a dog that lives through several lives with loving doting caring owners (well, almost all of them are loving), the director lays open all the doors and windows of the heart to undertake an excursion that is evangelical and exhilarating. The film's presiding premise of a love so pure it transcends languages and lives, is so fluently pounded into the narrative, we are often left teary-eyed, stifling sobs as Bailey, the dog-hero (or the "boss dog" as he's called by his beloved owner) goes from one beautifully crafted and lovingly shot episode after another.
As director Lasse does a 'Lassie' (remember the beloved doggie TV series and movies from the 1960s?), we are made a part of a world which is arcadian in spirit and ruptured by tragedy once in a while: a devastating fire, a drunken scene of domestic violence, and, worst of all, our dog-hero abandoned by one of his owners -- such are the interludes that shake our belief in the triumph of humanism over all adversity.
We first meet Bailey as attached to a little boy Ethan. The bonding between the two is so deep and indelible, we know it will outlast fate's temporal blows. The film makes a panoramic statement on the quality of inviolable affection shared between a canine and his owner. You don't have to be a dog lover to love "A Dog's Purpose". But if you are a dog lover, this is the film you want to take with you when are marooned on an island.
'A Dog's Purpose': Sentimental saga (Review By Troy Ribeiro ; Rating: ***1/2)
"A Dog's Purpose", directed by Lasse Hallstrom, is an emotionally-packed dramedy based on the similarly-titled 2010 novel by American humourist W. Bruce Cameron. The narrative shares the soulful and surprising story of a devoted dog who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love.
The film begins on a very melodramatic note and quickly settles on Bailey, a Golden Retriever whose life is shown from his birth to his death and his reincarnation through three other different breeds and genders; Ellie - the German Shepherd K-9, Tino - the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and as Buddy- The Saint Bernard. Each time he is reincarnated, it tells his story from life to death except in his latest life where he meets Ethan, his first owner, once again.
In a major chunk of the film, we see a rather traditional boy-and-his-pet tale unfold. An emaciated dog is adopted by the eight-year-old Ethan who christens him Bailey. They become soul mates as Ethan grows up into his teens.
This section of the narrative veers from cute to slapstick silly antics such as the comic disruption of an important business dinner party to pure melodrama with the over-the-top alcoholic Jim, Ethan's father as well as a school bully who harms Ethan. Each episode drags down the proceedings from the real star of the show, Bailey, who like all the dogs in the film is magnificently trained and appealing on screen. There is also a budding romance between Ethan and Hannah that the dog sweetly lands right in the middle of.
With each death and reincarnation, the graph of the plot oscillates from sentimental to dramatic comedy which comes a full circle where the core message, and love of animals, is delivered in the film. But there is never that moment that just breaks you in the way you expect a film like this to do.
The stars of the show are clearly the dogs, as well as the right-on-the-mark voice-over by Josh Gad who lends his voice for Bailey, Ellie, Tino and Buddy. Gad invests his vocal performance with just the right touch of quaintness, eccentricities and curiosities.
Bryce Gheisar as the young Ethan and K.J. Apa as the teenager, are charming and effortless so is Dennis Quaid as the older Ethan.
Britt Robertson as the young Hannah, Peggy Lipton as the older Hannah, Kirby Howell Baptiste as Tino's owner and Juliet Rylance as Ethan's mom are cute and equally competent.
John Ortiz as the squad officer Carlos has nothing much to offer, and is perfunctory.
Luke Kirby as Ethan's dad Jim, Logan Miller as the school bully, are in thankless role but overdo it anyway.
Director Hallstrom succeeds in providing a diversified visual style to the proceedings, thanks to Terry Stacey the Directory of Photography and Michael Carlin, the production designer. The period-appropriate pop songs that fill the sound track, conveys the various time slots and Composer Rachel Portman's score drives home the right notes.
Overall, the film certainly tugs at the heartstrings of anyone who has ever loved a pet.
Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog's Purpose, from director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John, The 100-Foot Journey), shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. The family film told from the dog's perspective also stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Juliet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Peggy Lipton, Pooch Hall and Dennis Quaid.
A Dog's Purpose is produced by Gavin Polone (Zombieland, TV's Gilmore Girls). The film from Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media is executive produced by Alan Blomquist, Mark Sourian and Lauren Pfeiffer, and it will be distributed by Universal Pictures.