It’s a cinematic truism that a sure way to wring tears out of viewers in a boy-and- his-dog movie is to kill off the dog. This sappy assemblage of Hallmark moments by the once-great Lasse Hallstrom (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Cider House Rules, Chocolat) takes this tactic to ludicrous extremes by, and I am not making this up, reincarnating the central mutt so it can dramatically expire several times over.
After bonding with a young boy, the multiple-personality canine in question, cloyingly voiced by Josh Gad, dies and comes back as a heroic police dog, a clever Corgi, a Saint Bernard mix, a mongrel, etc., and predictably and profoundly affects the lives of each of its owners. Food carts are overturned, dinners are ruined, heroics are performed, romances are kindled, tails are chased.
This saccharine, sappy sentimentality is not recommended for anyone, especially dog fanciers. If you’re looking for heartwarming images of dogs and their tamed humans, go surf YouTube rather than subject yourself to this manipulative, graceless, moronically plotted drivel. P.S.: PETA called for a boycott of this film after a video went viral of alleged on-set animal abuse. (100 min)