Controversy or Not, A Dog's Purpose Is 'Dreck'
It's 'a sappy, cloying story,' say critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2017 11:57 AM CST
Updated Jan 27, 2017 12:17 PM CST

(Newser) – How can you hate a heartwarming film with adorable dogs? Apparently it's possible. A Dog's Purpose, Lasse Hallström's flick about a dog reincarnated each time he dies, isn't wagging critics' tails. Here's what they're saying:

  • Peter Travers at Rolling Stone admits welling up a few times, thanks to "a manipulative script about dog reincarnation that whacks your emotions like a pinata." But he can't get the off-screen controversy—a dog being forced to jump into water—out of his mind. It's enough to ruin the movie for a dog lover like him.
  • Bill Goodykoontz at the Arizona Republic also acknowledges the controversy, but says, "Don't let that sway you. There are plenty of other reasons not to see it." He calls the flick "a sappy, cloying story" with a premise that "exists largely as a tear-manufacturing device. But man, those dogs are cute."

  • Tom Russo at the Boston Globe describes the flick as "mushiness with no apologies," though he found it "tough to resist." He applauds Britt Robertson's acting, "Josh Gad's charmingly earnest voice-over performance," and "the intriguing, semi-episodic structure" as the dog finds itself living one life and then the next.
  • But there's no getting Neil Genzlinger past the "clumsily manipulative dreck." A Dog’s Purpose is "one cloying story after another" showcasing "assorted hero-dog fantasies" and other clichés, he writes at the New York Times. He points out one other issue parents should be mindful of: For a family film about dogs, "it depicts almost none of the challenges and responsibilities of pet ownership."

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