A Dog’s Purpose is the story of a dog (voice of Josh Gad) who is reincarnated into a different life every time he dies. The story spans several decades and follows four of the dog’s ‘lives’ from birth to death. The dog narrates throughout. In its second life, the dog is a red retriever that belongs to a little boy, Ethan (K.J. Apa). Ethan and the dog become true friends and grow up together. In its third life, the dog is reincarnated as a police dog that must help a lonely officer (John Ortiz) solve crimes. In its fourth life, the dog comes back as a corgi owned by a lonely college student, Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). The dog helps Maya find romance and live a full and happy life. And the dog’s fifth life starts roughly but takes a surprising turn.
Family breakdown; domestic violence; alcoholism; death; animal neglect; romance; kidnapping; reincarnation.
A Dog’s Purpose has some violence. For example:
- Ethan’s father is drunk (he is an alcoholic) and threatens to hit Ethan’s mother. He also pushes her over. Ethan jumps in front of his mother and wrestles with his father, telling him to leave.
- A policeman aims a gun and practises in a shooting alley. He’s trying to get his dog used to the sound of gun shots.
- A man kidnaps a young girl, holds her hostage on a bridge, and threatens to push her over.
- A police dog gets shot while trying to protect its owner.
A Dog’s Purpose has some romantic and sexual references. For example:
- When Ethan meets Hannah at the fair for the first time, the dog comments on how Ethan and Hannah have a funny, sweaty smell when they see each other.
- There are various romantic scenes of couples falling in love.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
A Dog’s Purpose shows some use of alcohol.
Nudity and sexual activity
A Dog’s Purpose shows some sexual activity. For example, Ethan and Hannah kiss in his car. The dog comments on how they are always licking each other’s faces.
None of concern
There is some mild coarse language and toilet humour in A Dog’s Purpose.
Ideas to discuss with your children
A Dog’s Purpose is a heart-warming, funny and very emotional drama aimed towards older children and young teenagers. It touches on many serious themes without being too confronting. It’s funny and has lots of powerful messages about friendship and love. It’s a good movie for dog lovers.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the:
- strong bond between people and their pets
- importance of love and family.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like alcoholism, domestic violence and arson.