The Art of Racing in the Rain is going to be an emotional film for anybody who has ever had a dog as a member of their pack.
I know it’s the biggest question on your mind and I’ll get to it in due time. Before I do, I’ll add that there is a nice pile of laughs in here, too. Some of these laughs come with what Enzo (Kevin Costner) says in the film. The biggest laugh comes at the expense of a white carpet. I’ll save you the details here but it’s quite predictable.
It was love at first sight for Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) and Enzo. Human and pup–and later adult dog–would become inseparable for the rest of their lives. The life of a race car driver often means having to travel. For Enzo, this often meant having to stay home or with a friend of Denny’s. Things changed when Denny met Eve (Amanda Seyfriend). For Enzo, Eve means having competition for affection. Eventually, Enzo would come to accept Eve but not Eve’s parents, Maxwell (Martin Donovan) and Trish (Kathy Baker). From the moment we meet them, you can’t help but feel something menacing just beneath the surface. Enzo is there for Eve when she gives birth to Zoë. He’s also there when he senses something is off. Dogs have a strange way of sensing things so when Enzo has a gut feeling, it’s best to listen to him.
This gives way to the next act. If you’ve read the book, chances are likely that you’ll know what happens. For those of us who didn’t, part of the trailer offers a key to the melodrama that we’re about to experience. This is an act that features crying, fighting, and Enzo trying to inspire Denny to do the right thing. Again, it’s not going to be an easy watch in this regard. Anyway, all Enzo wants is to be a race car driver like Denny and his wish comes true before he passes away.
As far as humans voicing dogs go, Kevin Costner sounds more mature than Josh Gad or Bryce Dallas Howard. Regarding the three different dog-headlined films this year, this one is certainly the toughest watch. There’s a lot to take in emotionally upon viewing this film. While I don’t want to give away spoilers, I also feel a need to be honest with you. This one is more emotional than A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey, and A Dog’s Way Home combined! I’m a dog lover but if I’m being honest, the lighter comical moments aren’t enough to off-weigh the sad. Yes, a dog taking a dump on a carpet may be funny given the situation but it doesn’t change what we just saw.
At the end of the day, The Art of Racing in the Rain comes off feeling as melodramatic as a Nicholas Sparks adaptation.
DIRECTOR: Simon Curtis
SCREENWRITER: Mark Bomback
CAST: Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, Gary Cole, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, and Kevin Costner