A Dog's Purpose is a 2017 American comedy-drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and written by W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Audrey Wells, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky, based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Cameron. The film stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton, Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad.
The film was subjected to scrutiny after a video from the set was leaked of a dog being forced into running water, although it was later concluded the footage had been intentionally altered. The film is co-production between Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media, and Pariah Entertainment Group. It was released by Universal Pictures on January 27, 2017, and has grossed $71 million worldwide.
Bailey is a Golden Retriever whose life is shown from his birth to his death and to his reincarnation through four different dog breeds. Each time he is reincarnated, it tells his story from life to death, except in the latest life, where he meets his original owner again.
The movie spans from 1961 to the present day of the film (2017). As a little pup, Bailey is spotted inside a locked pick-up truck on a hot summer day, and is rescued from the green housing heat by a young boy named Ethan and his mother, who smashes the driver-side window to retrieve the puppy, then fall in love with the adorable dog. As the years pass, Ethan grows into a strapping high school football player who falls in love with his classmate Hannah. However, things take a dark turn when Ethan's alcoholic father shoves his mother to the ground in a drunken rage. Ethan orders his father to leave and never come back. Later, a vindictive classmate throws a lit firecracker into Ethan's house, starting an arson that endangers Ethan and his mother. Bailey saves them by waking them up, and they escape from an upstairs window while the police arrest the arsonist. However, Ethan fractures his leg during the fall from the 2nd-story window, ending his hopes of an athletic scholarship, and he must go to agricultural school instead. Self-pitying and embittered, he breaks off his relationship with Hannah before leaving for college. Shortly afterwards, an aged Bailey is put down by the vet after having a teary goodbye with Ethan.
Bailey is immediately reincarnated into another dog life while remembering his previous existence. That is now a female German Shepherd K-9 name Ellie. Ellie is working with an officer, Carlos, from the Chicago Police Department sometime in the early 1980s. The two form a close relationship which ends when Ellie jumps into a rushing river and saves a kidnapped girl from drowning, but is shot and killed during a struggle with the armed kidnapper who is arrested.
Reincarnated in the mid-1980s as a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Tino, he forms a bond with Maya, a college student in Atlanta whom he helps to find true love. Maya marries and has a beautiful family who all love the Corgi. As he is dying in the mid-1990s, Tino thanks Maya for giving him one of his best lives. Tino then dies and is again reincarnated to a Saint Bernard named Buddy, only to be taken in by an abusive and neglectful "trailer trash" couple sometime in the 2000s.
Buddy is dumped in an abandoned lot in the 2010s by the alcoholic, roughneck young man and makes his way to the country area where his first life began. He finds his old master Ethan, now middle-aged, lonely, and broken in spirit. Sensing that he has finally found the purpose in life that has long evaded him, Buddy helps to reunite Ethan and Hannah, who are finally married. At the end, Buddy convinces Ethan he is his beloved childhood pet by performing an acrobatic maneuver with a deflated football that the two had done years before.Josh Gad as the voice of Bailey, Ellie, Tino and Buddy.
Dennis Quaid as Ethan Montgomery (adult)KJ Apa as teenage Ethan MontgomeryBryce Gheisar as eight-year old Ethan Montgomery
Juliet Rylance as Elizabeth Montgomery, Ethan's mother.
Peggy Lipton as Hannah (adult)Britt Robertson as young Hannah
John Ortiz as Carlos Ruiz
Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Maya
Pooch Hall as Al
Luke Kirby as Jim Montgomery, Ethan's father
Logan Miller as Todd
In 2015, DreamWorks acquired the film rights for Cameron's novel. On May 8, 2015, it was announced Lasse Hallström would direct the film. On August 5, 2015, Britt Robertson and Dennis Quaid joined the cast. On September 18, 2015, Pooch Hall was cast in the film. On October 15, 2015, Bradley Cooper joined the cast to play the dog's inner voice. He was eventually replaced by Josh Gad. Principal photography began on August 17, 2015.
In December 2015, the film switched from a DreamWorks Pictures release to under the Amblin Entertainment banner as per Amblin Partners' newly enacted branded strategy. The film was released by Universal Pictures on January 27, 2017.
As of February 24, 2017, A Dog's Purpose has grossed $54.9 million in the United States and Canada and $16.4 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $71.3 million, against a production budget of $22 million.
In North America was released alongside Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Gold, and was projected to gross $18–22 million from 3,050 theaters in its opening weekend, slightly lower than initial $27 million tracking had the film debuting to before boycotts against the film were called for. It made $466,000 from Thursday night previews and $5.3 million on its first day. It ended up debuting to $18.2 million, finishing second at the box office behind the second weekend of Split. The film dropped 40.6% in its second weekend, grossing $10.8 million and finishing third at the box office.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 34% based on 85 reviews, and an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A Dog's Purpose offers an awkward blend of sugary sentiment and canine suffering that tugs at animal-loving audiences' heartstrings with shameless abandon." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score 43 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
On January 18, 2017, a video surfaced on TMZ showing footage taken from the set of the film, which shows a German Shepherd named Hercules being dragged and dipped into rushing water while visibly resisting. After a cut in the video, the next clip shows the dog being submerged in the water at the other end of the tank while a voice on set can be heard shouting "CUT IT!", and various people are then seen rushing towards the dog. The American Humane Association, which ensures that animals are not harmed in entertainment productions, announced that its representative on set had been suspended over the incident, and that the incident is under further investigation. PETA called for a boycott of the film. Actor Josh Gad, who voices the dog in the movie, was not on set during the making of the film, but stated that he was "shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will". Due to the release of the video, Universal Pictures cancelled the film's scheduled January 19 Los Angeles premiere.
Director Lasse Hallström stated on Twitter that he "did not witness" the actions in the video, and was "very disturbed" by the footage. Amblin Entertainment released a statement in regards to the incident, saying that "[o]n the day of the shoot, Hercules did not want to perform the stunt portrayed on the tape so the Amblin production team did not proceed with filming that shot", and that "Hercules is happy and healthy".
Dennis Quaid also came out against the TMZ video, stating that the video did not tell the whole story, saying: "My experience is that the animals were treated great. There was no animal abuse. That video that someone took and sold for money and held on to for a year and a half until right before the film's coming out, does not tell the whole story. First of all, it's been edited and manipulated. And I think it's a scam, to tell you the truth. What they (the viewers of the video) saw was completely out of context. It was edited...and all of the footage I saw, the dog was going into the water happily and had to be restrained, actually, from going into the water many times during that day." Quaid also said that the video was shot "towards the end of the day and I would not say, in real context, that the dog was frightened. The dog was acting like a dog who was kind of tired of taking a bath and was ready to get out. And, in fact, that's what happened. They took the dog out."
On February 4, 2017, The American Humane organization reported that an independent third-party animal-cruelty expert had concluded that safety measures on the set of the film were in place and the video had been deliberately edited to mislead the public.