A Dog's Purpose Adaptation

'A Dog's Purpose' Blu-ray Review: Finding the four-legged meaning of life

May 3, 2017Ben MK

What is the meaning of life? It's an age-old question that has puzzled — and, in some cases, troubled — all of us at one time or another. But as we discover in a A Dog's Purpose, the movie adaptation of the novel by author W. Bruce Cameron, humans aren't the only species who are prone to waxing philosophical.

Apparently, so too are dogs. Or at least one canine in particular (voiced by Josh Gad), who begins pondering this conundrum not long after he comes into this world. Playfully rollicking amongst his puppy brethren, he wonders if there might be something more to life than having fun. Then, before we know it, his life is over, and he's reborn as yet another cute and cuddly pup. This establishes the film's core premise, which has its four-legged star being reincarnated several times over, as he seeks to decipher the higher purpose to his humble existence.

Throughout the movie, our furry protagonist undergoes several change-of-owners and takes the form of several different breeds, including a German Shepherd named Ellie, a Corgi named Tino and a St. Bernard-Australian Shepherd mix named Buddy. However, it's his life as a Red Retriever named Bailey that really sticks with him. More specifically, it's Bailey's connection with his owner, a boy named Ethan, that leaves an imprint on his soul — so much so that when Bailey eventually passes on, he spends his next lives with Ethan never far from his mind.

A drama about the bonds of friendship that will most likely sit best with families and animal-lovers, A Dog's Purpose was directed by Lasse Hallström, with Cameron sharing the screenwriting credits with his wife, Cathryn Michon, as well as Audrey Wells, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky. Suffice to say, the film isn't particularly deep. Yet, the material manages to muster just enough emotional resonance; and with a solid cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Britt Robertson and Peggy Lipton, the result is certainly more than watchable.

A Dog's Purpose is a fine candidate for best-in-show Blu-ray presentation, as the technical merits of this disc put it right up there among the top tier of recent releases. Picture quality is sharp and crisp throughout, with no shortage of detail in faces, fur and environments; colors are nicely saturated, especially the bright and vibrant palette of the American Midwest that characterizes Bailey's story; and excellent black and contrast levels help to round off this overall impressive 1080p image. As for the audio, the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix provides a fitting complement to the visuals, delivering crystal-clear dialogue and music, bolstered by the sounds of barking dogs, cheering crowds, carnival games, and even police sirens, raging water and gunfire.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (9:24) - Fifteen scenes ("He's a Keeper," "We're Raising a Monster," "I Wouldn't Eat That," "A Member of Our Pack," "Bailey Soaks Ethan and Hannah," "Bailey's Ball Stuck in Tree," "Bailey Sees Hannah in Town," "Ellie Finds an Alzheimer's Patient," "Carlos Doesn't Want to Socialize," "Good Girl," "Old Photos - Version 1," "Old Photos - Version 2," "Buddy Searches for Food," "A Familiar Place" and "Ethan or Nothing").
  • Outtakes (2:11) - The usual goofs and flubs from the set, with a canine twist.
  • Lights, Camera, Woof! (8:46) - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie, as seen through the eyes of Roxy the dog, from the canine actors and the work of the animal trainers, to the process of adapting the original novel, the cinematography and the voice work of Josh Gad.
  • A Writer's Purpose (4:44) - The cast talk about how much they loved the book, and author/screenwriter W. Bruce Cameron and his wife/co-screenwriter Cathryn Michon talk about the origins of the story and how it has changed their lives.

A Dog's Purpose is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of May 2nd, 2017. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 40 Mins.

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