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Movie Planner: Before 'A Dog's Purpose,' other accusations of Hollywood animal abuse




Animal lovers are enraged about A Dog's Purpose (PG), after TMZ leaked a video of an anxious German shepherd named Hercules being forced into thrashing waters for a stunt.

At one point, Hercules is swept underwater for four seconds before a diver lifts him to safety.

Social media reactions were swift and scathing. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called for a boycott of Universal's family flick starring Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad's voice. Feeling the heat, Universal canceled last weekend's Los Angeles premiere and media junket.

A Dog's Purpose is based on W. Bruce Cameron's novel imagining a dog reincarnated over five decades to different owners until rediscovering his first, played by Quaid. Gad voices the various pets but tweeted that the video images left him "shaken and sad."

In a statement posted on his novel's Facebook page, Cameron wrote that he wasn't on the set that day but viewed additional footage that "paints an entirely different picture." That footage hasn't been publicly released.

A Dog's Purpose carries the American Humane Association pledge that "no animals were harmed." An AHA monitor who witnessed Hercules' dunking was suspended.

This isn't the first time Hollywood's animal safety practices ruffled feathers, fur and scales. Here are five reminders why it should be the last:

• The lifeboat tiger of Life of Pi wasn't all CGI magic. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a real tiger named King nearly drowned while filming a scene in open water. The accident, the report said, was witnessed yet covered up by an AHA monitor involved intimately with a production executive for the movie.

• The same 2013 article reported 27 animals, including goats and sheep, died during an unsupervised hiatus in production of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in New Zealand. The AHA claimed no jurisdiction since no actual production was involved.

• Dozens of fish and squid washed ashore in the Grenadines over four days filming Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. No precautions to protect sea life were taken when special effects explosions were detonated.

• A chipmunk was crushed by his owner-trainer on the set of Matthew McConaughey's rom-com Failure to Launch. Carrying the rodent on his shoulder, the trainer slipped on rocks, causing the chipmunk to fall, at which point the trainer stepped on him. "The owner is devastated," read the AHA report.

• The AHA was banned from director Michael Cimino's 1980 flop Heaven's Gate, enabling some of the most notorious animal abuse ever filmed. Horses were reportedly tripped with wires, cockfights staged, chickens decapitated for stage blood and another horse killed with explosives.







One thing Friday the 13th, Saw and Walking Tall taught me is to never take a movie franchise seriously when it claims to present a final chapter. There's always a fast-buck remake, reboot or can't-help-it sequel to be made.

So forgive my not feeling misty about Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (R) and the possibility of never again seeing Milla Jovovich slay the undead. Not that I went out of my way for the opportunity, anyway.

But for anyone desperate to learn the fate of Alice (Jovovich) in Raccoon City, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is here, unpreviewed and intended to stay that way. Have fun.




After Sahara and Fool's Gold flopped, you'd think Matthew McConaughey would be finished with searching for gold in movies. No such luck. Gold (R) keeps the Oscar winner's record tarnished in such affairs.

Gold is based on the true story of a 1990s mining scandal but it's just another sweaty rogue for McConaughey to play. Bryce Dallas Howard co-stars as the dreamer's concerned wife while Edgar Ramirez isn't given enough to do as his partner in grime.

A Grade C review of Gold will be published at


IN Theaters: our Top 5


Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 A Monster Calls: A grieving boy gets tough love from a tree monster (voice of Liam Neeson).

2 Patriots Day: White-knuckle re-enactment of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack and manhunt.

3 Hidden Figures: True story of African-American women making NASA go 'round.

4 Fences: The role that deservedly won Viola Davis a Golden Globe and Denzel Washington a nomination.

5 Split: M. Night Shyamalan returns from the dead with a wicked thriller.


(Dates subject to change)

Feb. 3: Rings; The Space Between Us; Collide; The Comedian; Julieta

Feb. 10: The Lego Batman Movie; John Wick: Chapter 2; Fifty Shades Darker

Feb. 17: The Great Wall; Fist Fight; A Cure for Wellness

Feb. 24: Get Out; Rock Dog

Mar. 3: Logan; The Shack; T2 Trainspotting; Before I Fall; Table 19

Movie Planner: Before 'A Dog's Purpose,' other accusations of Hollywood animal abuse 01/25/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 12:14pm]
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