The word “despicable” is probably not strong enough a word to describe the Jan. 18, 2017 online video hit piece that tmz.com posted attacking director Lasse Hallström’s theatrical release of A Dog’s Purpose.
PETA (there is nothing “ethical” about this organization’s actions in this matter) immediately called for a national boycott of the film. Universal Pictures was blindsided and forced to cancel the film’s scheduled red carpet premiere.
The film subsequently opened on Jan. 27, but the damage had been done … the opening weekend box office take was well below expectations.
The video in question was shot on the set surreptitiously — a blue-screen water tank filmed sequence — during the film’s production in 2015 and purports to show Ellie (played by Hercules), the German Shepard in the film’s second segment, being horribly mistreated — nearly drowned.
The video, as it turns out, was heavily edited and taken completely out of context. That didn’t stop tmz.com from posting it or PETA calling for a boycott of the film.
The dog, according to reports, had been trained to shoot the pivotal river sequence (the magic of film — the dog is never actually in the river) on one side of the pool. When lighting requirements called for a shift in location, the dog became nervous about the new location. It was all worked out and Hercules was never in any danger (subsequently reported in the Hollywood Report on Feb. 4).
Well guess what, the opening weekend audiences, who either didn’t get the word about the boycott, or think that PETA often goes too far in their self-righteous indignations, told their friends — that’s called “word of mouth” — what a marvelous dog-loving film A Dog’s Purpose happened to be and in subsequent weeks the box office grew and grew and grew. They just kept coming and now receipts currently stands at over $60 million (and it is still playing on nearly 1,500 screens nationwide)!
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment announced this past week that both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions of A Dog’s Purpose will be available on May 2 for everyone to enjoy. The ARR for that date is 95 days.
This is a tale about a boy and his dog … and his dog … and his dog … and his dog — the spirit of the same dog reincarnated four times.
The film is an adaptation of W. Bruce Cameron’s 2010 New York Times bestseller (nearly a year on the list).
We first meet Ethan as a boy when his mother rescues a puppy from a pickup truck on a hot day — breaking the window and saving the dog’s life. They take the dog home — a Golden Retriever — and name him Bailey (who is voiced throughout the film by actor Josh Gad).
The two, Ethan (played by two different actors during this period) and Bailey, grow up together. It is isn’t easy as Ethan’s father is an alcoholic, often abusive, the marriage breaks up, Ethan’s dreams are shattered (a series of horrible events), Bailey grows old and dies.
But wait, Bailey is reborn as the aforementioned Ellie, a German Shepard, who grows up to become a police dog, working with a Chicago policeman named Carlos (played by John Ortiz). On one particular case Ellie saves a kidnapped little girl (the water sequence), but is killed by the kidnapper.
The next segment has Bailey reincarnated as a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a cutie pie named Tino, who helps guide a pitiful, college-age student named Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), from being a sad, lonely loser to a happily married young woman … and Toni too grows old during this time and dies.
The last sequence brings us full circle back to an adult Ethan (played by Dennis Quaid), as Bailey is reborn as a Saint Bernard named Buddy. Buddy’s life is a living hell, and Ethan’s life is no bed of roses either as everything he dreamed about as a young man has been lost to him, including the love of his life, Hannah (Peggy Lipton as an adult).
Bring Kleenex, you’ll need it, as Buddy (Bailey), lost and on his own, finds Ethan and the two reconnect. Buddy knows what to do … find Hannah and make things right. A surprise awaits Ethan that brings the film full circle.
What a beauty! If you want a feel-good movie experience, A Dog’s Purpose is just that film!!!
Bonus treats include deleted scenes, outtakes and a pair of featurettes — “Lights, Camera, Woof!” and “A Writer’s Purpose.”
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s box office hit, Split, will be making its way to the home entertainment marketplace on Apr. 18 as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack offerings.
The ARR for this mid-April release works out to 88 days and ticket sales were a robust $130.8 million.
Teenagers Marcia (Jessica Sula), Casey Anya Taylor-Joy (Casey Cooke … and at an earlier age by Izzie Coffey) and Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) are being held captive by a group of 23 different people (possibly 24) in a very unlikely-to-be-found hiding place (a nice double twist in the third act).
Is this a cult that is into young girls? No, it’s Kevin, maybe Dennis, or Barry, or maybe even Patricia, but they are all one in the same (played by James McAvoy — X-Men: Days of Future Past, Victor Frankenstein, The Last Station, etc.), a kidnapper with multiple personalities.
As the girls try to figure out ways to escape, they come to learn — from “sampling” each of the personalities — that there is one that can never come out, or “into the light.” That would be The Beast, a side of their captor that is without mercy or guilt … a creature so horrible that even thinking about The Beast can give one nightmares.
So does our boy Kevin — and his friends — just run this little prison? No, he has a real-world job and he is even in therapy — Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley).
The cat-and-mouse game builds to a climax and the day of The Beast finally arrives. We will tell you this much, The Beast is not nice.
Bonus features for Split include an alternated ending, deleted scenes and a trio of featurettes — “The Making of Split,” “The Many Faces of James McAvoy” and “The Filmmaker's Eye.”