ByBrooke Geller, writer at
Awkward nerd, aspiring shieldmaiden and friend to all doggos.
Brooke Geller

What was originally intended to be a feel-good family movie about a lovable dog's search for his beloved owner has turned into one of the most controversial scandals of the year after an apparent case of animal abuse on the set of A Dog's Purpose was leaked. The video caused mixed reactions from both the public and those involved in the film's production, with many prospective cinema-goers now boycotting the movie entirely.

is still a day away from release, but IMDb have already had to remove countless fake negative reviews following the incident. You might be having a hard time finding legitimate reviews of the movie in the wake of WaterdogGate, but fear not: The real reviews are in!

A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]
A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]

So what's the verdict? Is it the heartwarming puppy-fest we were promised, or even more off-putting than Dennis Quaid's sinister, judgmental glare? Let's take a look:

See also:

The Good

A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]
A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]

Ny Daily News had nothing but glowing words for this "tailwagging treat." They applauded actor Josh Gad for his "doggone delightful voice," comparing its "soul-shattering" narrative to the likes of the iconic animal movie Homeward Bound. That's a pretty bold claim. In fact, their review was so glowing that it's surprising they awarded it only four stars rather than five.

The Boston Globe found it to be undeniably emotional in all the right ways, whilst The Hollywood Reporter acknowledged director Lasse Hallström's ability to transition between a range of visual techniques, highlighting the contrast between the canine protagonist's many incarnations.

Apart from the many obligatory mentions of the film's many adorable puppies, A Dog's Purpose hasn't triggering an overwhelmingly positive response from reviewers. Prepare yourself for some seriously scathing critiques.

The Bad

A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]
A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]

Not even several pairs of puppy dog eyes (or "puppy porn," according to Slant Magazine) can save a movie from harsh criticism, and A Dog's Purpose was no exception.

Several reviewers found it to be possibly a little too dark for its intended child audience— the film features not only an abusive, alcoholic father, but several dog deaths, with Variety's review suggesting that it could "could very well trigger some unintended consequences with its smallest viewers"— in other words, kids may now become intent on finding the reincarnated version of their fallen furry friend.

The Wrap suggested that A Dog's Purpose was nothing more than the end of Marley & Me "over and over, forever," and that the whole thing gave off a bit of a dog food commercial vibe— a sentiment echoed by AZ Central. Both the Chicago Sun Times and Movie Nation found it to be unnecessarily "grim."

The Ugly

A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]
A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]

For some critics, this tale of canine reincarnation was more than underwhelming— it was downright terrible. Where to start?

The New York Times kindly informed prospective viewers that they "don’t need an animal-rights group’s boycott to give you permission to avoid A Dog's Purpose," because the "cloying" narrative is good enough reason.

IndieWire called it the "Cloud Atlas" of dog movies, with recurring dog suffering that was "determined to permanently scar the children who see this movie." But their most apt observation had to be of the film's use of negative clichés:

"In the final chapter, Bailey is reborn as a mutt named Buddy, who begins his life chained up outside a dilapidated split-level by owners (read: offensive stereotypes), sending a disturbing message that poor people abuse animals."

A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]
A Dog's Purpose [Credit: Universal]

The answer to the film's driving message — "why are we here?" — was a source of immense disappointment for the Austin Chronicle:

"In the end, complementing the reincarnation theme, the answer, cribbed from Ram Fucking Dass (who did a lot of cribbing himself) is to 'be here now,' a sentiment that couldn’t be further from mine while I was watching this movie".

But the award for most scathing review yet has to go to Slant Magazine, who boldly stated that in the wake of the leaked video, "at its core, the film is about the subordination of canines to humans." Oh, and it's a pretty shit movie, too:

"A Dog's Purpose has the gooey, inauthentic feel of a Hallmark Channel movie. The script, a product of no less than five screenwriters, knows how to manipulate an audience's emotions but does so mechanically, making only the barest attempts to ground its schmaltzy melodrama in anything resembling genuine emotion."

Are you still going to watch A Dog's Purpose after reading the reviews?


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