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. 


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.

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.

Strong Points

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?


  1. the family life of Nathan the boy and his parents starts out with warmth and proper discipline only to degenerate when the boy reaches his teens. The after work beer drinking if his father escalated into binge deibking. When Nathan becomes a teen he is seen bringing his new found first girlfriend to meet his parents, upon their arrival as they step out of the car the parents are seen and heard fighting outside on the front porch. Nathan turns his girlfriend into the car and droves away. Anither time Nathan arrives home to find his dad pushing his mother around and steps in pushing his dad to the ground. The dad i Ives out by inference . Nathan is on the varsity football team, His drunk disheveled estranged father is shown attending the game unbeknownst to Nathan. He is shown headed towards a cafe and movements with his hands to his pockets gave the impression that he was carrying a pistol although one never appeared it gave cause to think violence was about to materialize.. A jealous peer seizes the fathers appearance as an opportunity to cast a negative light on the star quarterback Nathan and remarks that his father is an "Alkie". Nathan responds by punching the guy so hard that he is knocked to the ground. Nathan leaves and is shown at home in bed. To even the score the wounded teen goes to Nathan's home that night and sets Nathan's family home on fire. Nathan is forced to jump from the second story window and lands on a garden rake with tunes turned upward. He's rushed to the hospital by ambulance gets his leg in a half cast. No longer able to play he doesn't go on to use his four year college scholarship. Feels so sorry for his lot he tells his girlfriend they shouldn't see each other any longer. What could have been an otherwise nostalgic movie gets interspersed with today's cultural and appears to take many of its scenes scenes from "breaking" eye-witness news as seen on tv. The domestic violence of a boyfriend kidnapping the girlfriends daughter. The girl falling off a bridge into a churning water dam. Other vignettes depicting scenes straight from the violent newscast with the one dog being reincarnated after various causes of death such as being euthanized, shot to death by the kidnapping boyfriend and others equally horrible fates. The dog as a retriever we kesrnvthriufh his "inner thought voice@ kills the cat. The cat iscehen being buried and the dif is seen as digging up the dead cat and bringing it inside the house to the horror of the mother. One reincarnation of the dog Bailey shows him being brought home by a women with a nose ring to her home that is i
    Surrounded by junk in the yard and shoes a man chaining the dog to a stake of sorts outside in the junk laden yard behind a chain linked fence. A mm officer is shown writing a ticket to the dogs owners. Next the dog is shown being loaded into the back of a pickup with the women telling the man to find him a good home. The man is seen cruelly unloading the dog next to a railroad track and driving off.

    FYI--I am an individual notch belonging any group. I have no agenda. I was invited to the movie thus I went as I am not a movie-goer. Thought it would be a good upgrade of a Lassie type movie. It couldn't have been further from the wholesome movies that used to have a moral that caused you to examine your own behavior and bring it up to a higher standard. The undertones of the movie are very insidious. The 69's setting, with cars, clothing, shops, homes, streets, music etc. we're very nostalgic and very beautiful.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thorough review of the film! Like you, I felt like the film was suggesting that dad was bringing a weapon; I forgot to mention that in the review, so I'm glad you commented on it!


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