Dog movies haven’t been in short supply of late if you’ve seen A Dog’s Journey or A Dog’s Way Home. The Art of Racing in the Rain (from the studio that made Marley & Me) makes the point right from the get-go how fragile man’s best friend is as it turns into a looking-back melodrama that might be reminiscent of many a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. One that will attract families but will lose young folk when it gets a bit deliberate.
Simon Curtis stages it all in a way to make pet owners want to get closer to and appreciate their furry companion with scribe Mark Bomback imparting life lessons garnered by adopted golden retriever Enzo. Enzo can be peppy and weary as gravelly voiced by Kevin Costner contemplating on what has made his time with Denny (Milo Ventimiglia, a stoic, ethical presence) significant. Denny’s in the Formula One circuit but can’t really get his career in the right gear. Yet, in this circle of life the warmth of a schoolteacher Eve (Amanda Seyfried of Mamma Mia Here We Go Again) brings joy to his life.
The sojourn can be moving, melancholic, as well as trite as Enzo comes around to the new missus and (from the antecedent) stands by a Mongolian adage. Human reincarnation is possible for a dog that is prepared with important experience. Race car aficionados will admire the attention to details of the sport (though maybe not so much from a safety angle) for the Seattle-based tale that includes a bit about a zebra and a custody battle. Perhaps misdirection from its advertising keeps Denny and his changing milieu as the focus with Enzo along for the ride as an endearing source of levity.
Though The Art of Racing in the Rain is predictable to a fault, its uninspired nature doesn’t really deter from an inevitable heartrending spirit like the air blowing through a dog’s fur.