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A Dog's Purpose, Rated PG

Based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, “A Dog’s Purpose” takes audiences on a journey through several lives – and owners – of a reincarnated canine soul.

It’s important to mention that in January, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for a boycott of the film after TMZ released a video they say depicted animal abuse on set. While the dog involved in filming was stressed, independent reviews of conditions and a longer, unedited video of the session, concluded the video was intentionally modified to make the dog appear in more danger and under more stress than really happened.

Add to that, several of the people involved in the making of the film are notable animal activists, including celebrated Swedish film director Lasse Hallström. The stunt seems designed to cut the profits of the project, and hurt the reputations of those involved, because they chose to work on a film using live animals for actors instead of computer-generated imagery. Hallström’s background includes the groundbreaking “Hachi: A Dog’s Story” and the Academy Award-winning “My Life as a Dog.”

The director’s ability to explore depressing topics without sending the audience overboard is finely tuned in “A Dog’s Purpose.” Audiences view life through the eyes of a single canine soul, reincarnated from one dog to the next, experiencing the joys — and horrors — of human nature from one life to the next.

Human actors took backseat to the four-legged friends the audience follows. Still, casting was decent all the way around. KJ Apa plays a convincing teen, faced with real difficulties. Dennis Quaid does farmers justice, as well.

While the movie doesn’t delve much into violence, there is death, and young children might struggle with a few of the scenes. As heart wrenching as it is heartwarming, dog lovers and sensitive types should stock up on plenty of tissue on their way to the theater.

Correction notes: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this review incorrectly stated PETA had released a video detailing animal abuse on the set of "A Dog's Purpose," when the video was released by TMZ. 

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