One in-theater viewing of the trailer for A Dog’s Purpose was enough for me to cross it off my first-run list.
Devoted dog man that I am, the tears came through the second sit-through of the preview for this adaptation of the novel by W. Bruce Cameron about the spirit of a pooch that keeps coming back to this Earth, learning a little more with each owner until a circle is completed. My dear wife Karen read the book, lives with my and our cherished rescue mutt Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle, and heartily agreed with my decision.
And then I saw the Blu-Ray was available while checking the screen on break at the library and …
Yup. Director Lasse Hallstrom took the screenplay by Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Audrey Wells, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky and played me like a violin.
We meet cute puppy Bailey just before he finds his soul-mate kid Ethan and his mom wandering in a midwestern town. Josh Gad’s voice is the center of the film as Boss Dog Bailey and the other canines that follow in this parade of emotions that, well, has each chapter end in a varying degree of sadness and the next begin with hope and love the pet side and a slide scale in the side of the equation.
The dogs are all awesome. (A controversy surfaced that one Shepherd may have been treated badly during filming, forced to act in a hard scene against its will, with a clip to prove it, but the filmmakers said it was taken out of context.)
The actors click with their pets, too, particularly Bryce Geisar, KJ Apa and salty veteran Dennis Quaid as Ethan as a kid, teen and forlorn fiftysomething; John Ortiz as a lonely policeman; and Peggy Lipton as the old flame who re-warms to the grown-up Ethan.
It’s sad, surely. It’s sappy, certainly. It’s undoubtedly our fondest and fiercest projections of what we wish inside the heads of our beloved canines.
As we watched on the flat screen in the living room, I knew we were right. Too many tears for me to shed inside the theater.