A Dog's Purpose

Film, Drama
2 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
A Dog's Purpose

A dog lives many lives in this sentimental slush-fest

Chewing slippers? Slobbering on faces? Fetching sticks? Licking bums? This strange and sentimental movie sets out to uncover the true meaning of a dog’s life.

Josh Gad (‘Beauty and the Beast’) voices Bailey, a golden retriever that, instead of passing through the pearly gates of doggy heaven when he dies, is reincarnated. From a German shepherd police dog to a college’s student’s corgi, he lives out different lives in new canine guises, jumping from one cloying cliché to another – saving lives, match-making and solving crimes, all while having an epic existential crisis. To do meaningful work, to have fun or to love? This pup asks profound questions about existence that most human beings avoid.

There are cutesy moments and schmaltzy, shameless celebrations of canine spirit. Live-action puppies and a perky, sometimes funny, voiceover make ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ feel a bit ‘101 Dalmations’ but the multiple deaths aren’t quite so kid-friendly. Peppered throughout are moral messages about canine neglect and warnings about leaving dogs in hot cars, which make it feel like public information propaganda.

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ has been dogged by controversy – after footage emerged of German shepherd in distress on set (an independent investigation found the video to be misleading and edited). Despite the scandal and its shortcomings, this movie will be catnip for dog people. It has the power to tug at your heartstrings like a puppy at a postman’s trouser leg. But ultimately its message is muddled and manipulative rather than meaningful.

By: Ellie Walker-Arnott


Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Tuesday May 2 2017
Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lasse Hallström
Screenwriter: W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon
Cast: Britt Robertson
Bradley Cooper
Dennis Quaid

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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This is like a short story version of 'Marley and Me' with a dog narrative. It's cute especially when the dog has the same voice as Olaf in 'Frozen'. It's obviously geared up to tell the story of Bailey and Ethan's life which top and tail the film. The other stories are summarised and go through its narrative rather quickly and briefly. It's almost there just to let you know it's a film about Bailey's many reincarnated lives before going back to the story that really matters.  It is funny and touching in places. It's a cosy, fuzzy film. I wish my university had allowed me to take my dog to lectures. 


Really beautiful story of dogs purpose. If you are a dog lover, be prepared to cry a little. It really makes you think of all your pets and even tho it is a fantasy movie, you feel like there is truth in it. Wouldn't go to a cinema to see it tho, more of a cozy sunday at home movie. 


From the reviews I read beforehand, I thought I was in for an absolute clanger but I was surprised that I enjoyed it. The reincarnated dog dies too many times for my emotions to handle, and the plot is rushed through. Also, people don't just not go to uni because they've broken their leg, OK?  Besides those pressing factors, I found it to be heartfelt and quite sweet overall. Worth a watch when it passes over to TV or Netflix.


This film will be loved not only by dog lovers but by anyone that had or has a pet. Very emotional film about a dog that lives many lives until we finds it's purpose. Although there's a bit of fantasy it is something that we will relate and potentially share a tear or two.