The Worst Film Genre? A Movie In Which A Dog Dies

steven-hyden
Cultural Critic
01.26.17 21 Comments

Universal / Fox / Touchstone

I am boycotting A Dog’s Purpose.

This weekend, I will not be taking my four-year-old son to this ostensible family movie. I am basing my decision not on the disturbing video that surfaced last week of a dog apparently being forced to perform a stunt in rushing water. The video is awful, and if you’re boycotting this movie based on that, I support you 100 percent.

However, I am avoiding A Dog’s Purpose based on the trailer.

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If you haven’t seen it: There’s a cute kid and an adorable dog. The dog eats garbage. The dog eats a coin. The dog attempts to poop out a coin. So far, so good — totally a movie I would normally get behind. Then, about halfway into the trailer, it’s implied that the dog dies.

That’s it — I’m out.

When it comes to movies, I’ll watch pretty much anything. Graphic violence? Whatever! Since the age of 11, I’ve probably seen 1.2 million people murdered on screen. Graphic sex? Sure! I saw Last Tango in Paris as a teenager and I don’t think it messed me up too bad. Super depressing movies about death, addiction, prolonged illness, or profound personal alienation? Sign me up! I have a closet full of DVDs about those very subjects.

But a movie in which a dog dies? No. Hell no! HOW DARE YOU!!!

I don’t ever, ever want to see a movie in which a dog dies, or even entertains the possibility that a dog can die. As far as I’m concerned, my 10-year-old pug Lu is going to live forever, and I don’t need some manipulative filmmaker who’s trying to elicit cheap emotions by putting God’s gift to mankind in danger to tell me otherwise.

Now, I understand that the premise of A Dog’s Purpose is that the dog is reincarnated over and over, which ought to lessen the impact of the dog’s death. Maybe it does — I have no idea, because I haven’t seen the movie and I never will. However, doesn’t that mean that the dog just dies continually during the duration of A Dog’s Purpose? Is this movie basically Groundhog’s Day starring a dead dog?

Never mind, I don’t care. I will never watch A Dog’s Purpose.

There are lots of movies that I hear are good that I will never see because I hear a dog dies at some point: Old Yeller, Marley & Me, My Dog Skip, Year of the Dog, Red, Where the Red Fern Grows. I won’t even see a movie where the dog is a total a**hole and deserves to die, like Cujo, where the dog murders people, or White Dog, where the dog is a damn racist.

An a**hole dog is still a dog.

Criterion

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