Coming to Blu-ray this week from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and director Lasse Hallstrom is a film based on The New York Times best-selling novel of “A Dog’s Purpose.”
Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad) is a dog who finds his person in 8-year-old Ethan (Bryce Gheisar). They spend their every waking moment together and Bailey doesn’t want it any other way. As Ethan becomes a teen, he meets Hanna (Britt Robertson) and the three are happy together.
When Ethan has an accident and his life changes, he goes off to college to study to become a farmer. That means Bailey stays behind on Ethan’s grandparent’s farm until old age takes him.
But Bailey comes again as Ellie the training police dog, then Tino, a girl’s best friend and then Buddy. As this new incarnation, Bailey recognizes his surroundings and the smells of his previous life. Finding his way back to the farm, he sees Ethan (Dennis Quaid) who is living alone on the farm.
Not wanting to deal with it, Ethan pushes the dog away, but not for long. Naming him Buddy, he begins to see something he can’t explain in the dog. Seeing that Ethan is alone, it becomes Buddy/Bailey’s mission to find another smell he recognizes.
Back in town Buddy/Bailey finds Hannah (Peggy Lipton) and knows that this is what is missing in his two legged friend’s life. There is one more thing that Buddy/Bailey wants for his best friend and it’s only something Ethan would know!
Gad as Bailey/Tino/Ellie and Buddy is the perfect voice for it all. There are inflections in his voice that are meaningful, loving, sad and very playful. The dual performance of this lovely dog and Gad’s voice make the film so lovely that dog lovers won’t be able to help but run the gambit of emotions.
Gheisar as 8-year-old Ethan has a lot to deal with for such a young boy. His father goes through his own issues that keep Ethan at arms length but having Bailey gives this young boy hope and love. K.J. Apa as the teenage Ethan is strong knowing that no matter what his father does, he has the love of his Mom and the devotion of Bailey — and he certainly needs it.
Quaid as the adult Ethan is a man who clearly holds some resentment about the way life has taken its turn. Not wanting anything to do with another dog in his life, there is something about the dog that shows up at his door that changes everything for him — including opening doors he shut long ago.
Robertson as the teenage Hannah is a young girl who clearly is perfectly suited to the country life with Ethan. She absolutely adores Bailey and when an event changes all their plans for the future, she is heart broken. Lipton as an adult Hannah is wonderful because I have always been a fan so when she shows up in films I’m delighted. Her role isn’t a big one but it sure makes a point about life!
Other cast includes Juliet Rylance as Ethan’s Mom, Luke Kirby as Ethan’s Dad, Gabrielle Rose as Grandma Fran, Michael Bofshever as Grandpa Bill, Logan Miller as Todd, Kirby Baptiste as Maya, Nicole LaPlaca as Wendi and Pooch Hall as Al.
“A Dog’s Purpose” is from the bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron and it has transferred onto the screen in such a unique and lovely way. Each incarnation of dog is just so adorable which means I’m going to go through my “I want a dog” phase for a while — thanks so much for that!
There are so many amazing messages of love, family, devotion, protection, hope, belief in the human-canine connection. Of course anyone who has had a dog as part of their family knows all of this to be very true. I don’t think anyone should watch this film without a tissue box next to them.
The Bonus Features on the Blu-ray and DVD include “Deleted Scenes,” “Outtakes,” “Lights Camera Woof!” and “A Writer’s Purpose,” which tells the story behind Cameron’s beloved best-selling novel. Included in the Blu-ray Combo Pack is a DVD and Digital HD with Ultra Violet bringing the best picture with 6X picture resolution and theater-quality sound.
In the end — every dog happens for a reason!