If you are a dog lover looking for a good laugh along with some tears, grab your tissues because this is the movie for you. Although there was controversy about the mistreatment of dogs during the filming process, the relationship that this dog makes with his owners will make you want to run home and play with your own dog. If you have read the book, you will notice some changes to the plot, but the dog still has the same heart that W. Bruce Cameron developed throughout the novel.
For those of you who have not seen the previews, the movie is about a dog who reincarnates as a brand new puppy after death. If you have seen other dog movies such as Marley and Me where the dog passes away, you get to suffer through the sad passing of this dog four times. Even though it sounds like you will be crying a river through the whole film, there is a fitting balance of gloomy moments to go with cheerful laughter and edge-of-your-seat suspense.
A majority of the movie is focused on the dog’s life as Bailey, a gorgeous golden retriever living in a suburban home in the early 1960's. He is rescued by a young boy, Ethan, and the family instantly falls in love with Bailey. As Ethan grows up, Bailey stays by his side through thick and thin. Bailey is always willing to do whatever it takes to protect his ‘boy’ and keep him safe and happy. Sadly, there comes a time in every dog’s life where they have to leave the life they know, but in this movie, Bailey takes on a new life after death! The dog has many different “purposes” throughout his lives with multiple owners, but the time that he spent with Ethan was always very special to him. When the dog is mistreated by one of his new families, he embarks on a journey to go where he feels most at home.
The movie does a good job at making you feel the emotions that the characters feel and keeping you excited about what’s going to happen next. One of the only criticisms I have about the movie is that it was missing many scenes from the book that developed the plot a little more clearly. Obviously the book has more detail than the movie, but there were a few scenes that should have been replaced with parts from the book that really added clarification and detail to the storyline.
This movie could have been a bigger hit when it was released if there wasn’t so much controversy surrounding the possible mistreatment of a German shepherd during the filming of a water scene. There was one part of the movie where the German shepherd, Hercules, had to jump into roaring waters to save a girl from drowning. According to Dennis Quaid, one of the movie’s main actors, Hercules loved getting in the water, and they actually had to hold him back from the water throughout much of the filming process. Somebody who was on set during the filming of this scene decided to take a video of Hercules struggling to get in the water and make it appear that the dog was being abused. The people who were trying to get the dog into the water were not in any way harming him, and after a good forty-five seconds of the dog resisting, they let the dog be and tried something new. In the video clip, it immediately cuts to Hercules struggling to swim in the rough waters, but there were many professional divers surrounding the dog ready to rescue him from any danger. This man sold the video to TMZ for a large sum of money, and its effects canceled the movie premiere party. While the video was taken over a year ago, it’s interesting that he released the video so much later if he really did care about the safety and protection of the dogs.
Dennis Quaid participated in many news interviews in attempt to clear up the accusations so that people would still attend the movie. During an interview with Access Hollywood, Quaid said, “There was no abuse of animals, dogs or any of the other animals that we used on the set, or I wouldn’t have done it, I would have walked off, and I certainly wouldn’t be out here supporting the movie if there had been any abuse of any animals.” Not only did Quaid comment many times on this controversy, but the author of the book also defended the film. He said in another video with Access Hollywood, “Hercules was not thrown into the water from that side; he didn’t even go into the water from that side.” If these videos defending the movie had gone as viral as the videos tearing it down, the movie probably would have been more successful.
All things considered, I highly recommend that you watch this movie if you love dogs as much as I do. I would also recommend reading the original book that the movie is based off of because it offers a whole new perspective on the dog’s life. So grab your box of tissues and your bowl of popcorn and enjoy this beautiful film of a dog seeking its purpose.