February 1, 2017

A Dog's Promise Review

I found Brady's ball.

After an aggressively mawkish first act—during which a young boy, Ethan, gains a lifelong friend in golden retriever Bailey (v. Josh Gad)—A Dog’s Purpose seemed destined to be one of the worst wide releases of the year, and it is still pretty early. After escaping the pathetic, nostalgia-fueled “golden age” segment, the movie settles into a sappy groove that will certainly please a larger audience. 

Later sequences with John Ortiz and a police dog, as well as a lonely young woman and her loyal pooch, lack the saccharine sanitization of mid-century America. However, if your gag reflex is easily triggered by sappy treacle, you will not make it past that first act, during which Gad’s incessant voiceover is at its aw-shucks worst. 

The script treats Bailey’s childish take on the world like sage nuggets of wisdom. And Dennis Quaid arrives too late to do much more than alternately grouse and flash his famous grin. Director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat and several other similar films) goes full Hallstrom. Even for him, the death of multiple dogs is just too obvious of a ploy to jerk maximum tears.