A Dog's Purpose (film)
A Dog's Purpose is a 2017 American comedy-drama adventure 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 W. Bruce Cameron. The film stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton (in her final film before her death in 2019), Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad. The film, like the book, tells the story of Toby, a devoted dog who is looking for his rightful purpose and wants to fulfill it.
|A Dog's Purpose|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lasse Hallström|
|Produced by||Gavin Polone|
|Based on||A Dog's Purpose|
by W. Bruce Cameron
|Narrated by||Josh Gad|
|Music by||Rachel Portman|
|Edited by||Robert Leighton|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$205 million|
The film is a co-production between Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media and Pariah Entertainment Group. It was released by Universal Pictures on January 27, 2017, and grossed over $205 million worldwide.
In the 1950s, a feral Beagle/German Shepherd/Terrier mix puppy named Toby is born, wondering what life's true purpose is. Weeks later, while playing with his siblings, Toby is whisked away to the dog pound and is quickly euthanized, wondering if "fun" truly is life's purpose.
The stray mutt's spirit is reincarnated as a newborn Red Retriever puppy in 1961. Toby leaves his cage at a puppy mill and is found by two garbage men who plan to sell him. They leave to drink, and Toby is spotted locked inside their pick-up truck by a kindhearted mother and her eight-year-old son Ethan Montgomery, who rescue him from heatstroke. They bring Toby home and introduce him to Ethan's father. After they convince Ethan's father, the puppy is allowed to stay and is renamed Bailey.
Bailey and Ethan bond quickly, especially over the summer when the family visits Ethan's maternal grandparents' farm, and Bailey now believes Ethan alone is his purpose. Years pass, and after several attempts at advancing in his job fail, Ethan's father has become a deadbeat alcoholic.
Over the summer, Ethan goes to a fair with Bailey and meets Hannah, whom he soon begins dating. Ethan and Hannah spend their summer together happily though their senior years are upcoming, but they plan to go to the same school; Ethan getting a football scholarship and Hannah following him on an academic one. When he goes home one night, Ethan's father is drunk and shouting at Ethan's mother. He turns on Ethan then and when his mother tries to keep them separated, he shoves her to the ground. Ethan orders his father to leave and never come back.
Later, at a football game watched by scouts, Ethan is offered a full scholarship to Michigan State, but that night a vindictive classmate named Todd throws a lit firecracker into Ethan's house, which results in a house fire. Bailey alerts Ethan, who goes to save his mother. Unable to get out of the door, they head out through his mother's bedroom window upstairs. Ethan first lowers her with her sheets to the neighbors below, then saves Bailey. However, he drops his rope and must jump, badly fracturing his leg and ending his athletic scholarship. Bailey attacks Todd, who is arrested by the police when firecrackers fall out of his pocket. Now, Ethan must go to an agricultural school where he will learn to take over his grandparents' farm. Falling into depression, Ethan breaks off his romance with Hannah before leaving for college, while Bailey stays with Ethan's grandparents. Shortly afterwards, Bailey becomes old, also falls into depression and his health begins deteriorating. Ethan's grandparents take Bailey to the veterinarian's office, but Dr. Joyce is unable to save him, and Ethan comes into the office and watches as his beloved dog is put to sleep.
The moment he passes away as Bailey, Toby reincarnates into another dog life, a female German Shepherd puppy, who grows into a police dog named Ellie, sometime in the late 1970s/early 1980s, while possessing full memories of her past lives. Ellie is partnered with a widowed officer named Carlos Ruiz from the Chicago Police Department and works hard at "seeking" and "finding", now seeing the job as life's purpose. The two form a close relationship which ends after Ellie saves a kidnapped girl from drowning and is then fatally shot by the kidnapper. Carlos breaks down in tears as his precious dog dies in his arms.
Reincarnated again in the mid-1980s as a male Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy, Toby forms a bond with an Atlanta college student named Maya who names him Tino. Maya is lonely, and Tino makes it his purpose to find her some happiness. She starts a relationship with a classmate named Al whom she begins seeing after Tino falls for Al's dog, a black and white Landseer named Roxy. Maya and Al marry and have 3 children. In love with Roxy and now seeing her as his purpose, Tino is heartbroken when one day Roxy does not return from the vet. As a now elderly Tino dies, he thanks Maya for giving him one of his best lives.
Toby passes away as Tino and is again reborn and reincarnated, this time as a St. Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix puppy sometime in the mid-to-late 2010s, and is taken in by an urban lady named Wendi, who names him Waffles. Unfortunately, Wendi's neglectful husband Victor refuses to let her keep Waffles inside and, after several years dumps him in an abandoned lot. Afterwards, Waffles sets off in search of a new life. He gradually makes his way to the country area where he spent summers as Bailey and joyfully reunites with his old master Ethan, who is now in his 50s, living a lonely life at his grandparents' old farm, which he now owns and runs. Ethan hands him over to the local animal shelter but has a change of heart and reclaims him, naming him Buddy. Buddy, sensing that he has finally found the true purpose of life, reunites Ethan with a widowed Hannah, and they get married.
Buddy convinces Ethan that he is his beloved childhood dog, by performing some tricks and responding to key phrases that were known only to the two of them many years back, such as "boss dog." Ethan digs up Bailey's old collar, now old and rusty and places it back on Bailey's neck, and they resume playing exactly the way they did so long ago. Toby narrates that life is about having fun, saving others, not getting caught in the past or regrets, finding someone to be with and living for today.
- Josh Gad as the voice of Toby/Bailey/Ellie/Tino/Waffles/Buddy, a devoted dog.
- Dennis Quaid as Ethan Montgomery, Bailey's owner.
- Juliet Rylance as Elizabeth Montgomery, Ethan's mother.
- Peggy Lipton as Hannah, Ethan's love interest.
- John Ortiz as Carlos Ruiz, Ellie's owner.
- Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Maya, Tino's owner.
- Pooch Hall as Al, Maya's love interest.
- Luke Kirby as Jim Montgomery, Ethan's father.
- Michael Bofshever as Bill, Ethan's grandfather.
- Gabrielle Rose as Fran, Ethan's grandmother.
- Logan Miller as Todd, the vindictive classmate.
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 Toby'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. Universal also distributed it overseas, except for countries where Mister Smith Entertainment handled international sales.
A Dog's Purpose has grossed $64.5 million in the United States and Canada and $139.5 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $204 million, against a production budget of $22 million.
In North America it 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 Universal's own Split. The film dropped 40.6% in its second weekend, grossing $10.8 million and finishing third at the box office.
According to review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 35% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 142 reviews, and an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critics 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, the film has a score of 43 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
A Dog's Purpose was released on digital HD on April 18, 2017, and was followed by a release on Blu-ray and DVD on May 2, 2017, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film topped the home video sales chart for the week ending on May 7, 2017.
On January 18, 2017, a video surfaced on TMZ showing footage taken from the set of the film, which shows a male 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 was 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". Director Lasse Hallström stated on Twitter that he "did not witness" the actions in the video, and was "very disturbed" by the footage. Due to the release of the video, Universal Pictures cancelled the film's scheduled January 19 Los Angeles premiere.
Amblin Entertainment released a statement in regards to the incident, saying that "on 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". On February 4, 2017, the American Humane Association 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.
On June 21, 2017, CEO of Amblin Entertainment Michael Wright announced that a sequel was in development. On August 26, 2018, Universal began production on the sequel, which is directed by Gail Mancuso, and was released on May 17, 2019. In addition to Quaid and Gad reprising their roles, the cast will also include Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott and Henry Lau. The trailer for the sequel, titled A Dog's Journey, was released in January 2019.
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Production companies: Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media, Pariah Entertainment Group Distributor: Universal Pictures
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A Universal Pictures release of an Amblin Entertainment and Reliance Entertainment presentation in association with Walden Media of a Pariah production
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