Simply narrated by an extraordinary dog called Bailey (Josh Gad -OMG it’s Olaf!) who enjoys eating bacon, and is reincarnated multiple times over five decades to learn his purpose in life; with the help of the people he loves and the people who love him back, will be one of those stories that stay with you forever!
This post has spoilers galore, so don’t read it unless you’ve watched/read it or have no intentions to. This is a comparison between the book and the movie, and my thoughts on mostly what they should have kept in.
(This post will not comment on the negative press the movie has got. I just suggest that you do a bit of your own research on the matter, and ask yourself why a video taken during filming, a year before, was not released until eleven days before the original release date if the recorder was so worried about the animals in questions welfare)
The book and the movie both start off as Bailey (or Toby) being a feral puppy who is caught by the dog catchers. The book goes on to show how Bailey is introduced to life with other dogs, and to people (who aren’t as bad as he thought), and he is able to learn an important life hack of opening a gate, which allows him in his second life (after his first life is cruelly cut short by an injury that makes him unadoptable) to escape from the puppy farm and wind up stuck in a hot lorry where Mrs Montgomery comes to his rescue.
And thus, the love affair between a boy and his dog begins. I felt all the same feels from the Ethan and Bailey I met in the book and the Ethan and Bailey I met on-screen. However, I think it is here that the movie and book go off course a bit. A scene in the book where as Ethan swims to the bottom of his grandparents pond and Bailey jumps in to ‘save’ him, is replaced by trick in the movie where as Bailey just jumps off Ethans back for a football. I think, for the transfer in to his next life, the scene should have been kept in.
I also think that the whole Todd thing should have been explored more. In the book, there are references to Todd having a disability and a lot more events that lead up to his decision to burn the house down, whilst in the movie, I believe they just paint him as this boy with no proper motive.
I think, out of all the lives Bailey lived, the Ellie life was my favourite. I think it was then I realised what a dogs purpose is, even if Bailey hadn’t yet (Although, Ellie’s purpose was to find and show), and I think they skipped out on it. Ellie had this long, amazing life where she continued to save people up until her last day, including Jacob, which isn’t really shown at all in the movie. There’s also a character we never properly meet from the books called Maya who takes on Ellie after Jacob get’s shot and can’t be a police man anymore, and I think they swapped this out for Tino and Maya, but even though Tino sort of acted like an Ellie where as he brought two people together, I think it would have been better if it had stayed with Ellie, because we find that in the long run, even though Jacob is shot, one of the people Ellie saves with Maya is the one who saves Jacob from the sadness of losing his wife.
So, in his second to last life, in the movie he’s a corgi and in the book, he’s still Ellie and he learns how to bring two people together, and that’s exactly what he has to do when he winds up back in Ethan’s grandparents town. This time, he’s called Buddy and is a black Labrador(in the book) whilst on screen, he’s some sort of mix that looks similar to a golden retriever, which I think is done more for what happens in the movie, than it does for the book.
There are a lot of things I think they should have mentioned or done in the movie as they had the book. For example, once he gets dumped, he’s a stray for a while, and he uses his feral origins to forage for food and stay away from the dog catchers. It almost feel like it comes full circle, which is referenced in the movie, but I don’t think it’s referenced enough to make it as significant as it should be.
Once he’s back with Ethan, he needs to find a way to bring him and Hannah back together, and with the help of Hannah’s daughter dog Carley, and his infatuation with her, he does it easily. The book and the movie go off-course here, again. In the book, Ethan passes away at a grand old age and only at the very end does he say Bailey, but there are signs that it’s just the last thoughts of an old man, and not because he realised that Buddy is now Bailey, whilst in the movie, he has a realisation that Buddy is actually Bailey, which I guess is a lovely way to end it really, but does turn it in to a more of a fantasy, than almost like real-life.
The whole thing though, is simple, light-hearted and hilarious, but I love how W. Bruce Cameron adds in all those things people have negative connotations about, such as death, euthanasia, puppy farms, abandonment, murder and disabilities, which I think was skipped upon in the movie in some respects.
If comparisons weren’t made, and the movie had not been adapted from a book, I believe it could be a great movie in it’s own right. However, I think both me and the movie have different views on what a dogs purpose is. Movie Bailey says it’s to be in the here and now, but I think a dogs purpose is to save people. Whether it’s just one person, or a hundred, a dog does it without even knowing.
I can also imagine my Springer Spaniel looking at me and thinking the exact same things as Bailey does, and my Shih tzu being a stuck up snob! Enjoy your dogs, maybe they come back to you every time they pass, just like Bailey does, but just know that even if they don’t, they will love you more than anyone else ever could. Same goes with some cats…