Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Dog's Purpose, Beyond The Controversy
I honestly can't think of a family oriented movie that has had as much controversy surrounding it as A Dog's Purpose in my lifetime.  PETA, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has encouraged that the movie be banned and many theaters, such as the one in my community, Warren Theaters has banned the movie from showing in its theaters. This is all because of the release of the video a couple of weeks prior to the release of this movie taken on the set of alleged abuse of one of the dogs on set. That video and the protests surrounding the movie was publicized on the tabloid television show, TMZ.  I will make a few comments here prior to going to my review of the movie. 

Since the protests and publicity surrounding the alleged abuse of the dog in the movie has come about, numerous individuals have come out in support of the movie with explanations of the video, the most recent that of one of the stars in the movie,  much-respected actor Dennis Quaid.  Also coming out in defense of the movie, with a detailed explanation of what happened was by Gavin Palone, the film's producer and animal rights advocate.  Palone goes into some detail including his own culpability in an article published on January 23, 2017, in The Hollywood Reporter. While accepting some culpability in the article, this reviewer believes his reporting of the events is more accurate than any I have read and come to the conclusion, that the animal was not harmed or injured in any way, certainly not as presented by much of the media, in fact, I believe the protests against this movie, by some animal rights advocates, has the potential to do more harm to the willingness of people to accept and adopt pets than many realize. One must take into consideration, the reports came from a heavily edited video, popularized by a tabloid television show, (who has since backed away from much of the original reporting) and a radicalized animal rights group, PETA who has issues with anyone keeping pets, any animal use in movies and many more radical concepts regarding pets. 

www.thevirtualpew.comNow to the movie. I have recently gone through the process of getting a new puppy. My family has always had pets and have considered them, as almost family members. In many ways, they are family members incredibly important to our family but not held on the same level as humans. That said, we have been loving and nurturing to our animals we have had, including a cat that lived to be 27, and several large breed dogs that have lived to 15 or more.  We love animals and with the loss in the last year of a dear family member, Kersey, a White German Shepherd we realized that our lap dog, Buster, needed a new dog. We realize dogs are pack animals and respond best to another dog. So, we just adopted a new dog who will be coming into our family within 6 weeks of this writing. Again, we love animals.

The movie A Dog's Purpose is based on a best-selling book by the same title written by W. Bruce Cameron. It is a unique story in that it tells the story of a dog, and one could say his spirit, through the eyes of the dog Bailey. A unique attribute of the movie is we see Bailey through the eyes of numerous dogs after Bailey dies. We see his spirit reenter other dogs at their birth with an understanding of his past lives. In many ways, one could say it resembles concepts of reincarnation, except through the eyes of a dog. Bailey lives in various forms, through various breeds, and various sexes. The dog's character, Bailey narrates the story through several short story concepts, all maintaining the primary character of Bailey. Josh Gad does the voice of Bailey, and in all honesty, while he does a good job, there were times I personally got tired of the actor's voice.
This film, despite its various short story concepts all holds together. The movie flows nicely although a little boring to me for the first third of the story. It is near the conclusion of Bailey's life with a young Ethan, played by K.J. Apa that the story really picks up emotional ground. We see some good character development for Ethan, his girlfriend Hannah, played quite nicely by Britt Robertson and his parents and the turmoil of the family during Ethan's teen years. From this point on, roughly half of the movie, that this movie picks up some serious steam, and the viewer, especially if they have had pet dogs, better have a handful of Kleenex available.

The respect A Dog's Purpose gives to the importance of dogs, the life of dogs is quite moving. I have no doubt that for those watching the movie, they will reflect a great deal about their pet family members that have passed on. During my screening of the movie, for the last half of the movie, it was not unusual to hear weeping among not only adults but the children in the audience.  If the emotional pulls of the movie had only been solicited to end in a sad story, with sad events, and for the sakes of pulling on those tear strings, I would blast the movie. There are however, moments, especially the ending of the story that the entirety of the movie, all of the short stories in the movie come together It is here in the conclusion of the film that we get Bailey's response to the question he has been asking his entire life, as to what is, A Dog's Purpose? Bailey not only has his answer, but the viewer has their answer and the direction by Lasse Hallstrom all comes together. 

www.thevirtualpew.comMy belief is this movie is not a great movie, it is, however, a very good movie that I loved by the end, and will admit, also needed more than a couple of Kleenex as I reflected on my pets who have passed on.  I thought of them in a good way, I even went so far as to wonder, if this type of thing is a possibility, could the spirits of my past pets continue on.  Of course there is no answer to those types of things, but I did most certainly realize how God can bring life to people in so many ways and about how dogs, or pets in general, can be a tool of God to help us come to our own conclusions about the questions we have in life.  In the end, while this movie won't win any awards, it is likely that it will help many people, and could have helped do many pets through adoption. Unfortunately, the criticism of this movie, which I believe to be unfounded, will likely do more to harm this possibility than many people realize or want to accept. That is unless pet owners, who see the movie, does their due diligence, speaks out to some of the absurd comments and protests that are taking place. I encourage the reader, read the article in the Hollywood reporter referenced earlier.  I think you will see a filmmaker share what really happened as to their intent and desire for the movie. I for one, happen to believe him.

Now while this movie is not for the super tough macho thrill seeking type of guy, I will say this, if that guy has ever had a dog, he will stay until the end of the credits to make sure his own bloodshot eyes clear up, and after seeing it and getting home, will want to love on his dog. For those who don't have a dog but may have had one in the past, it may do something else, encourage you to go to a local shelter and adopt one. Now for me, I will conclude with this, regarding this movie, for the letters in the words, "cry baby," I give a heartfelt, wet Kleenex 7.

Feel free to check out the following videos by clicking on the video, if that doesn't work, click on the link:

Dennis Quaid Answering Questions of Abuse

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