By Kevin Yu
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.
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.