Tuesday, January 31, 2017
A Dog's Purpose Adoption Movie Review
A Dog’s Purpose is a sometimes light-hearted, sometimes sad journey with a gentle soul who has lived several canine lives. When a dog dies, the soul wakes up in another dog. From this perspective we see several different lives of dogs. One dies as a puppy after being picked up by an animal catcher. Another is a police dog. Another is neglected horribly. But the main life the film focuses on is Bailey; Bailey is rescued from a hot car and immediately bonds with the family that has saved him. He becomes best friends with Ethan, the young boy in the family. Bailey grows up with Ethan, and dies shortly after Ethan leaves for college.
**SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY**
After several reincarnations, Bailey finds Ethan again and manages to communicate to Ethan that – impossible as it may seem – he is Ethan’s childhood dog. As the film ends, Bailey explains that he has figured out what his life purpose is – to live in the moment and to help people to love.
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The Adoption Connection
In some sense, Bailey has been adopted into several families.
Ethan’s parents split up, and Ethan deals with the effects and shame of his father’s alcoholism.
Bailey is a loyal friend.
Even though Bailey is neglected in one home, he eventually finds a place where he is loved.
In one scene, Ethan’s dad is drunk and knocks down scuffles with Ethan’s mother. Ethan knocks his dad down and tells him to leave. In another scene, a girl has been kidnapped by her mother’s ex-boyfriend; he brings the girl to a bridge, and she falls into the rapids. These could be difficult scenes for kids who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence.
Several dogs die in this movie; some die of old age, but one dies after being shot by a criminal. This could be hard for kids who are sensitive to issues of loss, death, or violence.
Another student mocks Ethan for having an alcoholic father. Ethan punches him and leaves. That student goes to Ethan’s house at night and throws a lit firecracker into the home. The house burns down, and Ethan and his mother barely escape alive.
Bailey is neglected in one home; he is chained outside for what seems like years. Kids who have been neglected might find this particularly sad.
A Dog’s Life seems likely to draw families with young children – after all, this is a movie about dogs, and it’s voiced by Josh Gad, who voiced Frozen’s snowman Olaf. However, there are some frightening and sad scenes, some of which could be triggers for kids who have experienced neglect, or for those who have witnessed or experienced violence. It should be OK for kids ages 12 and up with a parent present; parents of younger kids should probably prescreen this one if their kids are sensitive to loss, death, violence or neglect.
Questions for Discussion
What do you think of Bailey’s advice, to not be sad but to just live in the present?
What kept Bailey’s spirits up when he was in the home that didn’t pay attention to him?
What do you think the purpose of life is?
What does it feel like to be home?