The Art of Racing in the Rain
- James Mottram
- 6 August 2019
Kevin Costner voices the lovable mutt in a canine melodrama that frantically tugs at the heartstrings
Following a trio of W Bruce Cameron adaptations – A Dog's Purpose, its sequel A Dog's Journey and A Dog's Way Home – the talking canine movie is clearly back in vogue. Now we have The Art of Racing in the Rain, a melodrama with a mouthful of a title. Based on the 2008 novel by Garth Stein, the story is narrated by Enzo, a loveable mutt purchased as a puppy by the aptly-named racing driver Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia of This Is Us fame).
Voiced by none other than Kevin Costner, bringing a suitably gruff gravitas to his vocal inflections, Enzo is looking back on his life with Denny (and, in typical fashion for these doggy tearjerkers, we first see Enzo lying by a door looking ill – a cue to have your hankies at the ready). Named after motor racing icon Enzo Ferrari, our hero is a wise soul, who learns about humans from watching television and gets frustrated that he can only communicate in barks.
An immediate fan of racing after Denny takes him to the track, Enzo loves being a mascot for his owner, though he eventually has to make room for others in Denny's life – firstly Eve (Amanda Seyfried) and then, after they marry, their daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). While Denny works toward his dream of driving Formula 1, he's spending all hours racing up and down the country, a lifestyle that Eve's parents (Martin Donovan, Kathy Baker) clearly don't approve of.
British director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) conjures an unashamedly old-fashioned weepie. Dog lovers will especially respond to Enzo, but there's a lot of other frantic heartstring-tugging in a narrative where tragedy appears on every bend. Some will find it too corny, but the well-cast Ventimiglia is a solid leading man – his conviction such that you'll want to follow him and Enzo right through to the bittersweet end.
General release from Fri 9 Aug.