A Dog's Purpose (film)

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A Dog's Purpose
A Dog's Purpose (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Produced by Gavin Polone
Screenplay by
Based on A Dog's Purpose
by W. Bruce Cameron
Narrated by Josh Gad
Music by Rachel Portman[1]
Cinematography Terry Stacey
Edited by Robert Leighton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • January 27, 2017 (2017-01-27)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million[2]
Box office $204 million[2]

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 W. Bruce Cameron. The film stars Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, Juliet Rylance, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton, Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad.

The film is a co-production between Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media and Pariah Entertainment Group.[3][4] It was released by Universal Pictures on January 27, 2017, and grossed over $204 million worldwide.

A week prior to the film's release, a video surfaced on TMZ showing footage taken from the set of the film, which showed a German Shepherd dragged and dipped into rushing water while visibly resisting. After initial backlash, it was determined the video had been deliberately edited to mislead viewers.[5]

A sequel, titled A Dog's Journey, is scheduled for release on May 17, 2019.[6]


In the 1950s, a feral puppy is born, wondering what life's true purpose is. Two weeks later, he is whisked away to the dog pound and quickly euthanized, wondering if "fun" truly is life's purpose.

His strong spirit is reborn and reincarnated as a newborn Retriever puppy in 1961. He leaves his cage at a puppy mill and is found by two garbage men who plan to sell him. They leave to drink, and the dog is spotted locked inside their pick-up truck by a young boy named Ethan and his mother, who rescue him from heatstroke. After they convince Ethan's father, the dog 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 quickly begins dating. Ethan and Hannah spend their summer happy together 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 as a prank, which unintentionally 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. Sometime afterward, an aged Bailey is put to sleep at the veterinarian's office.

Bailey reincarnates into another dog life, a female German Shepherd police dog named Ellie, sometime in the late 1970s/early 1980s, while possessing full memories of his past lives. Ellie is partnered with a widowed officer named Carlos 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.

Reborn again in the mid-1980s as a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, he 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 Roxie. Maya and Al marry and have 3 children. In love with Roxie, Tino is heartbroken when one day she does not return from the vet. As he lies sleeping, Tino thanks Maya for giving him one of his best lives.

Tino is again reborn and reincarnated, this time as a St. Bernard-Australian Shepherd mix, only to be taken in by a neglectful urban couple who name him Waffles. Waffles is dumped in an abandoned lot and 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 soon 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 pet by performing some tricks and responding to key phrases that were known only to the two of them many years ago. The dog in voiceover tells the viewer 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.



In 2015, DreamWorks acquired the film rights for Cameron's novel.[9] On May 8, 2015, it was announced Lasse Hallström would direct the film.[10] On August 5, 2015, Britt Robertson and Dennis Quaid joined the cast.[7] On September 18, 2015, Pooch Hall was cast in the film.[8] On October 15, 2015, Bradley Cooper joined the cast to play the dog's inner voice.[11] He was eventually replaced by Josh Gad.[12] Principal photography began on August 17, 2015.[13]


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.[14] The film was released by Universal Pictures on January 27, 2017.[15] Universal also distributed it overseas, except for countries where Mister Smith Entertainment handled international sales.


Box office[edit]

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.[2]

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.[16] 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.[17] The film dropped 40.6% in its second weekend, grossing $10.8 million and finishing third at the box office.[18]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 34% based on 137 reviews, and an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads:

On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 43 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Home media[edit]

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.[22][23] The film topped the home video sales chart for the week ending on May 7, 2017.[24]

Animal cruelty allegations[edit]

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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27][28] PETA called for a boycott of the film.[29] 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".[30] Director Lasse Hallström stated on Twitter that he "did not witness" the actions in the video, and was "very disturbed" by the footage.[31] Due to the release of the video, Universal Pictures cancelled the film's scheduled January 19 Los Angeles premiere.[32]

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".[33] 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.[5]


On June 21, 2017, CEO of Amblin Entertainment Michael Wright announced that a sequel was in development.[34] On August 26, 2018, Universal began production on the sequel, which will be directed by Gail Mancuso, and scheduled for release on May 17, 2019.[6] In addition to Quaid and Gad reprising their roles, the cast will also include Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott and Henry Lau.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rachel Portman Scoring Lasse Hallstrom's 'A Dog's Purpose' - Film Music Reporter". filmmusicreporter.com. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "A Dog's Purpose (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  3. ^ Scheck, Frank (January 24, 2017). "'A Dog's Purpose': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 3, 2017. Production companies: Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media, Pariah Entertainment Group Distributor: Universal Pictures
  4. ^ Barker, Andrew (January 24, 2016). "Film Review: 'A Dog's Purpose'". Variety. Retrieved March 7, 2017. A Universal Pictures release of an Amblin Entertainment and Reliance Entertainment presentation in association with Walden Media of a Pariah production
  5. ^ a b "Third Party Investigation Finds No Animal Injuries, Cruelty on Set of 'A Dog's Purpose'". The Hollywood Reporter. February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "'A Dog's Journey' Begins With Dennis Quaid & Josh Gad; Betty Gilpin Joins Sequel". Deadline.com. 26 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Kit, Borys. "Britt Robertson, Dennis Quaid Join DreamWorks' 'A Dog's Purpose' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  8. ^ a b Lincoln, Ross A. (2015-09-18). "Pooch Hall Joins 'A Dog's Purpose', Doug McKeon Will Run With 'LBJ'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  9. ^ Kit, Borys (September 16, 2016). "Bradley Cooper in Talks to Voice 'A Dog's Purpose' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike (2015-05-08). "'A Dog's Purpose' Set At DreamWorks With Lasse Hallstrom To Direct". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (2015-10-15). "'A Dog's Purpose': Bradley Cooper in Talks to Voice". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  12. ^ "Josh Gad is Reincarnated Over and Over in the A Dog's Purpose Trailer". 2016-08-26. Retrieved 2016-08-26.
  13. ^ "On the Set for 8/21/15: Eddie Redmayne Starts Fantastic Beasts, Russo Brothers Wrap Up Captain America: Civil War". SSN Insider. 2015-08-21. Archived from the original on 2015-08-22. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  14. ^ Busch, Anita (December 16, 2016). "It's Official: Spielberg, DreamWorks, Participant, eOne, Others Pact For Amblin Partners". Deadline.com. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Busch, Anita (2015-09-22). "'A Dog's Purpose' Movie Based On Best-Selling Book To Unleash In 2017". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  16. ^ "Box Office: Can 'A Dog's Purpose' Still Win the Weekend After Canine Controversy?". Variety. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Associated Press. "Box Office Top 20: 'A Dog's Purpose' is second to 'Split'". Business Insider.
  18. ^ "'Split' Dings 'Rings'; Auds Keep Distance From 'Space'; 'Comedian' Bombs: Sunday Update". Deadline Hollywood.
  19. ^ "A Dog's Purpose (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  20. ^ "A Dog's Purpose Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  21. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ A Dog's Purpose (2017) DVD Release Dates, Retrieved April 30, 2017
  23. ^ A Dog's Purpose Blu-ray Blu-ray.com, Retrieved April 30, 2017
  24. ^ Thomas K. Arnold (May 10, 2017). "'A Dog's Purpose' Leads the Pack in DVD, Blu-ray Disc Sales". Variety. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  25. ^ Leigh Blickley (18 January 2017). "Leaked Video From 'A Dog's Purpose' Set Calls Film's Treatment Of Animals Into Question". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  26. ^ "'A Dog's Purpose' Video Shows Terrified German Shepherd Forced to Film". tmz.com. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  27. ^ "'A Dog's Purpose' Video Triggers Suspension". TMZ. January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  28. ^ Catherine Garcia (18 January 2017). "Investigation opened into 'disturbing' treatment of German shepherd on set of A Dog's Purpose". The Week. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  29. ^ "PETA Calls for Boycott of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ After Disturbing Video Surfaces", Dave McNary. Variety. January 18, 2017. Accessed January 18, 2017
  30. ^ Sandra Gondalez (19 January 2017). "'A Dog's Purpose' faces backlash after 'disturbing' video surfaces". CNN.com. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
  31. ^ Bryan Alexander (19 January 2017). "'A Dog's Purpose' reels after outrage over disturbing set video". USA Today. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Universal Pictures cancels premiere of 'A Dog's Purpose'". 20 January 2017.
  33. ^ Karen Mizoguchi (19 January 2017). "A Dog's Purpose Releases Statement Following Controversial Video: We 'Foster an Ethical, Safe Environment for Animals'". People. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  34. ^ "A Dog's Purpose Sequel is Happening Because Of China". slashfilm.com. 21 June 2017.
  35. ^ "Betty Gilpin Joins Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad in 'A Dog's Purpose' Follow-Up (Exclusive)". Hollywoodreporter.com. 26 August 2018.

External links[edit]