A Dog's Purpose
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A Dog's Purpose

Adorable puppies, wholesome messages, no swear words. Oh, and dogs dying. But they come back! You’ll probably know from those words alone if this one is for you. Or not.

Lasse Hallstrom’s version of the best selling novel squeezes a lot in alternating mushy and scary scenes. At least they were scary to me. Watching a dog in peril, especially after we were told there was possible abuse on the set, should always be a very hard thing, whether it’s seeing an animal plunging into raging rapids or being left, tied to a tree, shivering in the cold. Or watching them die. But those are elements of this well intentioned, if rather schmaltzy, family oriented fare. Dogs, we are told, are more than just furry pals who love us. They, like us, wonder about the meaning of it all. They, like us, wonder about their purpose.

For our central dog here, his purpose is his boy, Ethan. The two go through a lot together, not all of it pretty. And when it’s time for our four legged friend to “leave”, the scene is handled with dignity and grace. Or so I think. I was awfully busy, digging in my bag to share with the unprepared, the Kleenex I’d packed in anticipation. Problem is, I didn’t pack enough. Because our dog, sweetly voiced by Josh Gad, goes through a few reincarnations. We all watch as the awww inducing puppy grows tired and dies. Again. And Again. I was running out of Kleenex.

Sure, there’s nothing new here. But we do get to see wonderful dogs, some impressive stunts and even a few moments of acting from game two legged stars John Ortiz, Juliet Rylance, Dennis Quaid and Peggy Lipton, who’s still gorgeous. Bad guys get theirs, good guys gets theirs, eventually, too.

I’m not giving anything away to remind you there’s a happy ending, temporary though it may be. Because we know, even though we leave them on a heartwarming note, what’s gonna happen to our best, most wonderful friends. And now, yup, I’m crying again.

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