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A Dog's Purpose Movie Review

Reviewed by on Jan 26, 2017
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw A Dog’s Purpose, the story of a dog who lives several lives and the people he influences. Is it ultimately an uplifting film about Man’s best friend? Read our movie review!

By: Lynn Barker

In A Dog’s Purpose, a puppy is born and wonders why he’s here. When he lives several doggie lives and kind of comes full circle, back to some familiar human faces, he realizes that maybe dogs are just here to have fun, save people, lick them and just be here NOW.

Young Ethan with puppy BaileyYoung Ethan with puppy BaileyCourtesy of Universal


Hoping to sell him, two thugs “adopt” a golden retriever puppy but, thoughtless, leave him in their hot car without water. He’s rescued by 8-year-old Ethan (Bryce Cheisar) and his mom (Juliet Rylance) and his alcoholic dad (Luke Kirby) allows him to keep the dog whom he names Bailey. As Ethan grows into a teen (K.J. Apa), he becomes a hot football player and Bailey helps him get girlfriend Hannah (Britt Robertson). All is happy until Ethan’s football future is dashed and he sends Hannah away. Having lived a full life, Bailey passes away.

Bailey plays with young EthanBailey plays with young EthanCourtesy of Universal

Bailey is Ellie

Hey, I’m back! Bailey’s soul has now passed into Ellie, a female German Shepherd working in the K-9 unit of the Chicago P.D. with her partner Carlos (John Ortiz), who is a lonely cop who becomes deeply attached to her. Ellie gives her life in the line of duty.

Ellie on the job with cop CarlosEllie on the job with cop CarlosCourtesy of Universal


Back again, this time as a tiny Corgi-type dog adopted and named Tino by a cute college student (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) who is lonely until she gets a boyfriend, gets married and has several kids. Tino lives a happy life with the family until it’s again time for him to go.

Small Tino and his new ownerSmall Tino and his new ownerCourtesy of Universal


Nameless, “Buddy”, an Australian Shepherd/St. Bernard mix, is adopted by a white trash woman whose husband/boyfriend? never likes him. He spends the first few years of his life chained up in the yard with little to no love. When he is dumped on the road by the man, he catches a familiar scent and follows it to some old friends who name him Buddy and realize there is something very familiar about him. Will Buddy finally come full circle back to his happiest life?

Buddy with adult HannahBuddy with adult HannahCourtesy of Universal

Wrapping Up

I have mixed feelings about this film. There are many sad moments and you might feel manipulated to get emotionally upset about them. There are plenty of happy, sweet and funny moments as well and Josh Gad (who voiced snowman Olaf in Frozen) does a wonderful job of voicing the various incarnations of lead dog Bailey.

Buddy with adult EthanBuddy with adult EthanCourtesy of Universal

Dog actors are very winning and great. The video on YouTube showing German Shepherd actor Hercules being forced repeatedly to jump into fast moving water for a scene has caused a big uproar in the animal rights movement. He is fine now but obviously was frightened at the time. Is this sort of training right?  You will have to decide how you feel about animals appearing in films but this is a separate issue.  I am only judging the value of the movie alone for kids and teens.

Teen Ethan with older BaileyTeen Ethan with older BaileyCourtesy of Universal

I have not read the novel upon which the film is based so I can’t say how close the movie comes to it. Would the novel make you want to cry more than laugh or smile? Decide whether to check it out or not.  

Bailey becomes Ellie the police dogBailey becomes Ellie the police dogCourtesy of Universal

What A Dog’s Purpose does do successfully is cement just how important pets are in our lives, how they help form our young personalities, stick with us through thick and thin and become a part of our families. Maybe this is their purpose on Earth. I will reveal that the movie has a happy ending but, getting there might just be too upsetting for younger kids. We will go three stars. 

A Dog’s Purpose Movie Rating: 3

A Dog’s Purpose Movie PosterA Dog’s Purpose PosterCourtesy of Universal

A Dog's Purpose is in theaters now!


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