"A Canine’s Nine Lives"
A DOG’S PURPOSE revolves around Bailey, a fun-loving dog who questions the meaning of his many lives as he begins a new adventure with each life. A DOG’S PURPOSE is well made but it contains a high amount of questionable content, including a story that revolves around the false idea of reincarnation, some scatological humor and examples of dysfunctional family relationships.
A DOG’S PURPOSE follows the many lives of Bailey, a dog who awakens to another dog’s life as the previous one ends.
Bailey’s story begins after he’s left in a blazing hot truck and then rescued by his future owner, a young boy named Ethan. Ethan and Bailey grow up together and soon become inseparable, football-playing best friends, even throughout high school.
The family suddenly comes under a lot of stress as Ethan’s father has trouble at work. It drives him to alcoholism, and he’s forced out of the family home. He reappears in public and makes a drunken scene while trying to talk to Ethan. As a result, Ethan hits a bully making fun of his father. To get revenge, the bully sets off a firework inside Ethan’s house, causing it to catch fire with just enough time for Ethan, his mother and Bailey to escape. Bailey begins to age and the family, after much deliberation, makes the decision to put him down and out of his misery.
After this life, Bailey continues to come back to life as different dogs, with new and exciting adventures. He goes through many different owners and sees them throughout their loneliness. He has mostly kind owners, until a couple adopts him and after much abandonment, is taken out of town and dumped in the middle of nowhere. After wandering, he finally picks up a familiar scent and finds his way back to the porch of his best friend many years ago, Ethan. All he wants to do now is reunite Ethan with his high school sweetheart and communicate to Ethan that he’s his best friend Bailey from so many years before.
A DOG’S PURPOSE is a well-made movie with a high quality cinematography and big name actors involved. Clearly written for a younger audience, the dialogue can be a bit juvenile at times, with the jokes and humor aimed at children.
However, the movie contains a high amount of questionable content, including the overarching theme. The overall worldview is extremely pagan. It suggests false religions such as Buddhism or Hinduism, with the entire storyline revolving around the concept of animal reincarnation. Because this movie is geared toward a younger audience, MOVIEGUIDE® finds the movie excessive. If children were flushing their fish down the toilet to free them after seeing FINDING NEMO, then reincarnation of pets could be taken as fact, not fiction, when viewing A DOG’S PURPOSE.
The movie also portrays a very dysfunctional family, including an alcoholic and semi-abusive father. There are a few examples of violence, some from the father, as well as a fight with a school bully, and an altercation involving a criminal and the police. However, there is very little sexual content and only upper male nudity when swimming in a lake.
Note: Two short videos of two different shots have surfaced showing that some of the crew making this movie may have abused the German Shepherd dog appearing in the movie by forcing it to swim in some turbulent water in two different large Jacuzzis created for a rapid river scene. However, the above review is a review of the actual movie, not a commentary on how the movie may have been made, which is still in doubt after watching the two video snippets, which don’t show everything that happened before and after the footage.
(PaPaPa, FRFRFR, B, O, VV, S, N, AA, MM) Strong pagan worldview promoting the false idea of animal reincarnation which focuses on the multiple lives of a dog who continues to reincarnate into other dogs, with some moral elements, plus the dog asks questions throughout the movie such as “What is the meaning of life?” and “Are we here for a reason?” as he continues to go from life to life trying to answer these questions, and some occult content where it’s suggested in one life that the dog and its owner can communicate telepathically; no foul language but there’s some crude humor, dog rolls around in manure, dog has thoughts audible to the audience like “my butt itches,” and dog passes gas; moderate violence within the family as the son protects his mother from his drunken father, when a bully mocks a boy’s father because he is a drunk, the boy punches him with minor facial blood shown, their house is set on fire by the bully, and the boy is forced to jump out of the window as a part of the house crushes his leg and breaks it, a young girl is pushed into a rapid river, a dog attacks a criminal violently, criminal shoots the dog with a moderate amount of blood shown from the dog, a couple watches a TV show showing two women fighting; light sexual innuendo as the dog Bailey has a crush on another dog and makes note of the first time they “sleep together,” although what’s shown is just the two dogs actually sleeping, young man and woman live together without a suggestion of marriage, and a dog goes under a girl’s skirt as a flirting extension of its owner; brief upper male nudity with no sexual association, a girl is shown in a bubble bath with nothing shown; alcohol use and drunkenness includes father begins with having a casual beer but progresses to extreme drunkenness to the point of violence and being forced to leave his job and family, man adds alcohol to his morning coffee with a flask despite wife’s objections, dog makes a comment that “Dad always talks so loud when he smells this way,” one of the owners of the dog drinks a beer as he mocks the dog; no smoking or illegal drugs; and, strong miscellaneous problems includes men go into a bar and abandon the dog in a hot truck with the windows rolled up, multiple examples of a dysfunctional family and dysfunctional relationships, a boyfriend is mean to his girlfriend and controls her actions, the same boyfriend takes the dog and forces him out of the truck to abandon him in the middle of nowhere, a girl is kidnapped by her mother’s ex-boyfriend.
A DOG’S PURPOSE follows the many lives of Bailey, a dog who questions his life’s purpose when his life ends and a new life begins. In one of his lives, Bailey grows up with a young boy named Ethan, and they become best friends. However, Bailey succumbs to old age, then continues with many adventures in his new lives, which include being part of a K-9 unit in the police force. Throughout these lives, Bailey begins to put together the pieces of what his purpose in life is and the reasons behind him being placed on Earth.
The dialogue’s a little bit juvenile sometimes, but A DOG’S PURPOSE is well produced and entertaining. However, the story revolves around the false, abhorrent idea of animal reincarnation. It also includes a high amount of other questionable content, such as an alcoholic and abusive father, some flirting and light innuendoes, a few examples of crude humor, and some violence. The movie also suggests telepathy in one of Bailey’s lives. Because of its negative elements, A DOG’S PURPOSE is clearly excessive, especially for children.