If you're anything like me, you were probably drawn to A Dog's Purpose because, well, it's a movie about dogs. I didn't have super high expectations for this movie, mostly because I didn't know exactly what to expect. What I did know is there had been controversy regarding "animal cruelty" on the set, which turned out to be misleading and not actually abuse at all. And I heard that it was going to be a tear-jerker, similar to Marley & Me. That's about it!
Though I didn't have many expectations, I was still somewhat disappointed in this movie. I'm sure it made for a great book, but on-screen it fell rather flat. The gist of the story is how one dog's soul is reincarnated even after it dies; it's "born" again as a different dog. No matter the dog it becomes, he always has some sort of purpose: serving as a police dog, providing friendship for a lonely college student, etc. Though there are different mini-plots as the dog experiences one life to the next, the story comes full circle as he seeks to find his previous owner from several lives ago (timewise, several decades have passed).
For those who are expecting A Dog's Purpose to be the next Marley & Me, you may be disappointed as well. You just can't really compare the two. The middle of the movie seems to drag as it moves from one sub-plot to the next. Though each is unique in its own right, it merely seems a way to kill some time until the movie returns to the original storyline. Each of these mini-storylines seem to end almost as quickly as they started, as they're given only a handful of minutes before the dog moves on to its next life. And each time the dog begins a new life, that of course means it has passed away, which results in a reoccurring, somber tone throughout. However, there is enough humor so that it's not altogether depressing!
Because of this consistent transitioning, the film loses steam after moving on from the main plot. With a rather predictable ending, the whole thing is somewhat anti-climatic. Like I said, I'm sure this made for a more captivating book than it did a film. The acting is pretty solid and the sub-plots are engaging enough that the movie doesn't become a snooze fest. And of course, the dogs are the primary stars of the show which makes it worth it, if nothing else.
So it's not a total dud, but sometimes words on a page just don't translate as well as you'd hope to the big screen. Overall, I don't think this was worth paying $10 to see in the theater, but I wouldn't necessarily skip A Dog's Purpose altogether. It's at least RedBox-worthy, especially if you're a dog-lover! Just be sure to bring some tissues.