A dog is man’s best friend – a phrase heard by many people, and seen by even more whether that be in the bizarre tale of Isle of Dogs to the tissue clenching ride that is Marley & Me. The Art of Racing in the Rain – directed by Simon Curtis – is another addition to that feel-good, awe-inspiring and tear-inducing lineup.

Based on Garth Stein’s novel written from a canine companion point-of-view, the movie follows suit showcasing Kevin Costner’s earnest voice as Enzo; an old soul who is utterly philosophical and has an undying love for race-car driving. The only issue: he’s a dog who yearns for opposable thumbs. Enzo is constantly captivated by human behaviour and acquires the technicalities of human living in the best way he can – watching documentaries about Mongolian afterlife and learning the art of race-car driving beside his owner Denny (Milo Ventimiglia), an up-and-coming Seattle-based race car driver. 

Curtis follows the plot of Stein’s emotive novel, jam-packing it with a plethora of melodramatic plot devices to make the viewer’s heart twinge. For instance, the tone is set in the starting scene where Enzo is lying in a puddle of his own urine and looking back on his life for the entire film.

Unlike Marley & Me with its pivotal tear-jerking end scene, The Art of Racing in the Rain has multiple scenes that’ll get the tear ducts flowing throughout. Seriously, it is jam packed with traumatic events that Enzo the lovable loyal companion has witnessed throughout his life: diagnosis of illness, death, legal battles and unlikely reunions.

Notably, there are some heartfelt performances, especially from Denny’s wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried) and her interactions with Enzo. However, whilst observing the world from Enzo’s perspective is wholesome and incredibly cute, the melodrama for certain sequences in the film tend to drag on for too long making the purpose of it feel flat, dry and an injustice to the emotional honesty of the narrative. 

Anyone who has owned a dog will be able to relate in some shape or form to the film. The majority of dog-owners are sure to be wondering what’s going through their furry friend’s head, and The Art of Racing in the Rain does just that, reaffirming that dogs are kindred souls and loyal companions (just like any dog-related film that falls into this genre).

Whilst The Art of Racing in the Rain is clichéd, a dog with an old soul, thoughts and feelings still manages to paw it’s way out of complete devastation. 

2 stars. 

Image Credit: Movie DB

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