A Dog’s Purpose: AVOID!

By Kevin Yu

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Poster of A Dog’s Purpose, (2017.)

I went to the Grand this Sunday in hopes of watching La La Land again, but the tickets were sold out. I can’t imagine; it’s been a month since La La Land arrived at Winston-Salem. So I watched A Dog’s Purpose instead, quite unwillingly, because from the trailer I knew I wouldn’t like it much. To my surprise, though, I was disgusted by it.

The movie tells a story about a dog, through many incarnations, seeking the purpose of living. The Buddha, too, has lived countless lifetimes seeking the ultimate truth before his enlightenment, so he can get out of samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.  This dog, though, is not the Buddha; he gets trapped in his samsara even more, because in the end he goes back to his original owner. In other word, there are no profound philosophies in this movie despite a big title “Purpose,” just the usual cliches, such as living a happy life, blah, blah, blah.

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The dog meets his original owner many lifetimes after. Stills from trailer of A Dog’s Purpose, (2017.)

I have more to say about the title. If the movie only wants to talk about the strong bound between a human being and a dog, or just want to lecture us some life values, I wouldn’t go so harsh on it. Upon a title like “A Dog’s Purpose,” however, I frown. No matter how subtle and profound a screenwriter can empathize with a dog, such empathies become entitled and patronizing under this title. Imagine a film titled A Wife’s Purpose or A Slave’s Purpose, and it comes to a conclusion that a wife’s purpose is to accompany her husband, or a slave’s purpose is to serve his master, all the while enjoy their own lives whenever they can. This movie does exactly the same. The dog goes back to his original owner to fix his miserable life since the owner screws up, because, what, he used to be his dog many lifetimes ago? So accompanying him and serving him become his purpose? I call this speciesism if such word exists (and it does, after looking it up.)

I strongly advise anyone against watching this movie, especially if you love dogs.

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12 Responses to A Dog’s Purpose: AVOID!

  1. mediaphiles says:

    This was a very interesting take on the film, and a strong response – I haven’t seen the movie, but I know from the previews it would make me cry! I like how you drew the comparison with the term “purpose” and address it as something derogatory.

    -Meg Schmit

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Wow, this is a really interesting review of the film. I agree with Meg, the previews push me to the edge of tears every time! Maybe it’s something about dogs, but I cried like a baby during “Marley & Me.” I think your point about defining a person’s (or animal’s) purpose is patronizing. -Caitlin Herlihy

  3. mediaphiles says:

    The only things I have heard so far about this film have been negative. Whether it be the story itself or the treatment of the dogs on set, I have been told countless times that I should not go see it. I refuse to support a movie that has mistreated animals on set and am honestly happy that it is not being received well by the public.
    -Maddie Turner

  4. What?! La La Land is sold out still? That’s crazy!

    ANYWAY, I appreciate your review of this film. I, like most of us, have seen plenty of commercials for it and was curious whether it was actually good or not. I think your comment today in class was particularly interesting, concerning the idea that we shouldn’t put words in dogs mouths. That is a thought-worthy point, especially in the way you compared it to putting words in the mouths of other groups of people.

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I am glad that I was able to hear you opinion in class and read your review on the blog. I was actually planning on going to see this movie, but your interpretation of the film and its meaning has turned me in the other direction. Now thinking into the title and plot-line, I can see your point about the film being patriarchal. The writers are essentially saying that a dog lives to please humans and that is their sole purpose on this earth. They have put the human race on this untouchable and god-like pedestal in claiming animals are born again and again to appease our needs. My childhood dog brought me a lot of happiness over the years, but I do not believe he was put on this earth just so I would have an enjoyable life.

    -Sarah Holt

  6. mediaphiles says:

    My brother saw this film and also told me to avoid it. I think your analysis of the title and how the film is patriarchal are very good and very interesting. Many people are dog lovers and may be tricked by the previews to go see it, but I’m glad you’ve given us a warning.

    -Walker Rise

  7. mediaphiles says:

    Just to put the cherry on top of all this, the news said that leaked footage actually raised animal cruelty concerns. I was never interested in seeing this movie before, but after discovering this there is just no way. Sorry you couldn’t see La La Land!

    -Kendra Thornton

  8. mediaphiles says:

    Watching the trailer for this film I was kind of interested in seeing it, but after reading your review I do not know if i want to see it anymore. Your very strong response and how disgusted you were by this film has quickly flipped my thought about the film. The thing I hate the most is when a trailer for a film is so good but the movie actually sucks. I will just wait until it comes on TV soon to watch it.

    – John Armstrong

  9. mediaphiles says:

    After seeing the footage of them trying to force a dog into swimming, I know I won’t go see this movie out of principle and now hearing your thoughts, I now am really not interested in it. Really thought-provoking and solid analysis.
    -Jordan Hansgen

  10. mediaphiles says:

    Kevin you savage! haha, I really like how you are so passionate about how much this movie got to you. I honestly have never been very good at voicing my true opinion on things due to the worry of offending others, or being outside of the normal thought on things. Truth is there are many movies I have liked that people hate, and vice versa. I wonder what the writer was thinking the moral of the story was going to be, but clearly by your description, it did not quite get across.

    Michael CYpher

  11. mediaphiles says:

    Kevin you savage! haha, I really like how you are so passionate about how much this movie got to you. I honestly have never been very good at voicing my true opinion on things due to the worry of offending others, or being outside of the normal thought on things. Truth is there are many movies I have liked that people hate, and vice versa. I wonder what the writer was thinking the moral of the story was going to be, but clearly by your description, it did not quite get across.

    Michael CYphers

  12. marymdalton says:

    I knew I made a good decision not to see it!

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