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Review: A Dog’s Purpose – “A fun family watch”

We often wonder about the purpose of life, but how about a dog’s purpose? This feel-good film delves into the mind of our canine companions as they ask the same question we do, and follows one dog as he looks to discover his purpose over several lifetimes and owners. From a golden retriever who’s a boy’s best friend, to a German Shepherd who serves honourably in the police force, our hero shows time and again (and with sweet humour) how much happiness dogs can bring to our lives, and their ability to bring people together.

There’s no denying A Dog’s Purpose is more than a little cheesy in parts, but really, what else would you expect from a family film about our furry friends? Newcomer from New Zealand (currently starring alongside Cole Sprouse in hit Netflix show Riverdale) KJ Apa shares the central role of Ethan with Dennis Quaid, at different stages of his life. Solid performances are turned out not only by these two actors, but by the entire cast, not least of all Josh Gad, who lends his loveable tones (as heard in Frozen’s Olaf) to provide the dog’s voiceover.

Hype around this film has been largely overshadowed by controversy generated from an upsetting TMZ-released video earlier this year which purported to show a German Shepherd being forced against his will into a strong current of water during filming, in which he became visibly distressed. As an avid animal-lover myself, and someone who always tries to take animal welfare into account in my consumption choices (which extend to film) I looked into this in depth before seeing the film. What swayed me was primarily this piece from the film’s producer for The Hollywood Reporter – an arts-focused publication which I trust.

This is a film about the love of dogs, and each canine that features in A Dog’s Purpose is the true protagonist, the real hero of this story. It is a film with dogs – and our love for them – at its core, and I can only expect animal welfare on set to be a top priority. It’s not quite Lassie or Beethoven, but it makes for a fun family watch and promises to leave a big smile on your face.

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