A Dog’s Purpose, based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, combines the philosophical belief that living beings are reborn into a different physical body after biological death with the voiceover narrative technique of Look Who’s Talking. The main character, Dog, dies in multiple wrenching scenes and is subsequently reborn; during his many lives, his thoughts are voiced by Josh Gad, and he engages in a lot of internal doggy eschatology, wondering about the meaning of life and what he’s meant to do.
Well, a dog's purpose, it turns out, is to be reincarnated into a different sappy mini-Hallmark movie after every death. A less brainy (and much less violent) Amores Perros, the film is ridiculously manipulative, guiding the audience through scenes of doggy loneliness and low-grade cruelty from humans -- not outright sadism, but terrible neglect. Which brings us to A Dog's Purpose's purpose. In Blade Runner, the cops test people for replicantism by asking them questions intended to evoke an emotional response -- most of which involve animals dying. That’s a really easy button to push: big, red and shiny, easily accessible for even the clumsiest interrogator. Director Lasse Hallström, known for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Chocolat (not to mention My Life as a Dog, which, unlike this film, isn’t about an actual canine), isn’t notably clumsy, but given a script that called for repeatedly mashing that big, red button, he’s smacked on it like the bongos in a Santana song.