Happy National Dog Day. Here’s a movie about a dog doomed to die and be reborn again and again so that he can... learn something about life? So that humans can be happy? Is there a shortage of dog souls to go around, so that by the time you pick up your new puppy from the shelter, mentally it’s probably already a grizzled old man looking down the barrel at the next twelve years of its life with exhaustion and regret?

The trailer of A Dog's Purpose, based on the 2010 novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron, introduces us to Bailey, voiced by Josh Gad, a retriever puppy owned by a boy named Ethan. Bailey is Ethan’s best friend, and they play around together with a deflated football. By and by, Ethan grows up and Bailey grows old and dies, but he’s back in this world moments later as a different dog, with a different owner, whom he helps out and loves until he dies and is resurrected again and again. In voiceover Bailey philosophizes about why he’s here and what purpose he serves.

But that’s not all. By and by, Bailey, as a different dog, inexplicably meets back up with his old friend Ethan, who has transformed into Dennis Quaid. The dog finds the old deflated football and they play fetch, which gets Ethan wondering, Could this be Bailey? It sure could!

This isn't the first dog reincarnation movie of its kind. The trailer is reminiscent of Fluke, an equally depressing kid’s movie from 1995, in which a man dies and is brought back to life as a dog, and must find his family and try to convince them he’s their father. What is it with dogs and reincarnation? Maybe it’s because they’re so much like us, there’s gotta be a human-like soul in there somewhere. Or maybe it’s because we know our furry friends aren’t with us as long as we’d like them to be, so we’re always hopeful that they’ll come back to us again, in one form or another.

A Dog’s Purpose is directed by Lasse Hallström and will be in theaters January 27, 2017.

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