Controversies aside, I believe a movie should be judged only for the time slot it runs sans the politics that surrounds it. A Dog’s Purpose might have managed to rope itself under the cross-hair of animal abuse, which nonetheless stays debatable when you listen to both sides of the story, but when you watch it for real without letting allegations decide your adjudication, you realize it’s one gem of a flick.
A Dog’s Purpose teaches us a lot of things from the perspective of a dog-soul that traverses from one dog life to another. Whilst it might appear like there isn’t much to their life than being cast away from one body to another only to experience different shades of life, the same could be said for humans. It’s not as if W. Bruce Cameron has it all figured out. He just paints an optimistic picture of how their purpose is to carve better humans out of ourselves or die trying. It is a selfless life trying to find love, understand our needs whilst doing so, and helping us out to grab the lost reins of our life back.
Canines in A Dog’s Purpose
Okay, let’s accept it, it is hard not to fall in love with a dog, and inhumanly impossible to get in sync with their feelings for us. They steal the show right away. Numbers could have flared up even without a good story to bolster them.
But to run them through a story that is as good as they are in reality, now that is something! A Dog’s Purpose movie has everything you wish to see in a dog movie. If it doesn’t crush you and if it doesn’t brim you alive then its purpose hasn’t really fulfilled.
On more than three to four occasions you are going to let go of those tears. It’s that racking sometimes. But at the same time, there are plenty of good genuine jests that will tickle your bones. A dog lover would be able to instantly relate to them. They are hard to miss too.
Extraordinary Stories (Spoilers Ahead)
Out of the four lives that the movie shows a dog donning, one of those will literally rip your heart out. Watching a Bernard being tied to a rope all day and night is one of those gut-wrenching moments you wish a dog is never subjected to. It goes on to show that there are all kinds of people in the world, and we are literally responsible for affecting everything around us with our decisions. That could mean even steering the most adorable pup into leading a lethargic lifestyle.
Dogs aren’t lazy, you make them so, because of your abominable torpor. It’s shattering to see the canine never retracting even when he is being pinned to a bad life, being highly optimistic all the way, just moaning with:
They just don’t go out much.
Ah! The Modesty!
These dogs are all made up of sugar and spice and everything nice!
The Morality Conundrum
Then there is another one of that of a German Shepherd. An Alsatian that’s used by a cop into leading a monotonous life. The dog’s clever enough to understand the aloofness, but obstinate enough to never stop trying from earning its master’s love. Sadly when you put a police dog’s life on the big screen it elicits a lot of questions related to unscrupulous conventions.
It has been man’s blunt sense of prerogative to do as he pleases. Since time immemorial we have been bossing around nature’s gifts as if it is our very own playground and its animals our slaves. From horses, to oxen, to fishes and to dogs, it’s us who have defined jobs for them, judging them by their capabilities and satiating our selfish needs. Did a German Shepherd beseech us to be put on the field? No it was us. Did a horse ask to be saddled, nailed, and taken to war? No it was us all along.
W. Bruce Cameron lets you see the bigger picture with the Alsatian when he shows how it cares only about making its owner happy. Pointing all the fingers once again at man’s self-absorbed living indirectly. The poor creature dies saving the life of its master, putting itself altruistically against its owner to teach him why it is important to be completely selfless in today’s egotistical world.
Lasse Halstrom takes it to a completely different level showing us things from the eyes of a mute observer who fails to understand a life beyond love. The good and the bad are nothing but morsels of food and nod passed along to it, and that’s all it abides by. It is just trying to please us. Did it ever ask to be a part of the war? Did it ever demand bullets and bombs? Of course not. It was just looking for our approval, finding our happiness, making our euphoria its very own, and then eventually passing away trying to shoo us away from harm’s way.
The only problem is that neither Cameron nor Halstrom actually thought in that direction while writing and filming it. Quite apparently that thought is a tad dark for the theme of the movie, and it basically uproots every thinking we have been feeding ourselves all our life. Leaving animals to their fate, to their natural order! A penny for this thought?
You can order A Dog’s Purpose here:
Humans have forgotten how to be human. That’s the primal nub of Cameron’s tale. He chooses to pick different shades of a canine life to help us reflect what we have been doing wrong all along. There are witty one-liners and subtle remarks that are impeccable enough to induce pathos. And they do manage to. Yes, one of the most exciting stories of A Dog’s Purpose is that of Bailey and the co-related Buddy part. They have been powerfully woven to meet after a hiatus of two sub-plots and they are impactful enough to bring tears to your eyes. Be it be Bailey’s shuteye or Buddy’s figuring out his one true master from a past life. Everything reeks of teary-eyes.
In each life, dogs are teaching humans important lessons. They are helping them get there. And when you pay attention it is like one big life lesson that is slid to us in four chapters, with the first and fourth being completely related, and being the cardinal steer of the story. It’s brilliantly done by the way.
Dogs are forever trying to please us, to stay on the good side of our radar. It is one of those species that’s capable of unconditional love, who always give precedence to their masters, and who are willing to do anything to ensure our well-being. Really, there is so much to learn from them.
The Final Verdict
Why does it take an animal to teach us how to be human? It is one of those questions we must contemplate on when we begin to forget what sets us apart. There are dozens of instances all around us, and there are lessons flying in every juncture. While Cameron seeks solace in one of the most selfless ones, you can’t overlook the fact that even though he might not have aced it with a dog diegesis in the backdrop, he has certainly tingled something in there.
That being said it is also a movie that just focuses on the good stuff mostly. It is trying to show us only the side of animal cruelty that we have unknowingly seeped into our lives. With the wrangle that A Dogs Purpose had got itself into, doesn’t it kind of brim it up with hypocrisy?
Overlooking the obvious the movie is an enjoyable flick. You find canines helping us at every point. They talk daft but strong enough words to send you pondering into eternity. Josh Gad‘s voice as Bailey, Buddy, Tino and Ellie feels just so right and aptly chosen. It’s a very soothing and reassuring befitting voice chosen for a dog. Makes you want to fall in love with them even more.
A Dog’s Purpose movie makes you want to adopt a pet, if you don’t have one already. A must watch despite what all the controversies have to say.
Can you ever forget Hachiko though? Also read Why Hachi A Dog’s Tale is one of the best dog movies ever.
You can check out the trailer of A Dog’s Purpose here: