Under the direction of Simon Curtis, Fox’s The Art of Racing In The Rain is a heart-felt tear jerker of a film. Written by Garth Stein, the wildly popular novel translates well to the big screen. What sets The Art of Racing In The Rain apart from more recent adaptations with dogs at the center is the strong story line, and the complimentary balance between the human perspective paralleled with the dog’s perspective.
In The Art of Racing In The Rain, Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) is a wise and introspective dog who has an admirable love, respect, and adoration for his owner, Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia). Denny is an aspiring Formula One race car driver who is surrounded by a great group of friends, content with the pursuit of his passion and reciprocates the same love and compassion towards the introspective Enzo that his dog has for him.
All is well with Enzo and Denny from the perspective of Enzo, until Denny meets Eve (Amanda Seyfried), falls in love, marries and they have a daughter named Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). Zoe soon finds a place in Enzo’s heart, but the same cannot be said for Eve’s wealthy, pretentious and controlling parents played by Martin Donovan and Kathy Baker, who feel as if Denny as a race car driver will never live up to their standards for their daughter.
The screenplay by Mark Bomback is very well written, yet the pacing at the start of the film is very slow. Once the conflict in the plot is revealed scenarios within the film begin to unfold quickly and the plot lines become much more emotionally gripping. While there are not many bells and whistles within this movie, the beauty rests in the fact that it’s simply a movie about life and the many trials and tribulations that may come along the way, and the mystery of the will of the human spirit.
The racing metaphors within the film are effective and tug at the heartstrings indeed. This film works not just for dog-lovers, but also for those who value family as the movie is quite family-centric.
Kevin Costner’s voice has just the right about of monotone-like gravitas to depict the philosophical and sometimes melancholy tones throughout the film. The chemistry between Ventimiglia and Seyfried is endearing and sweet. The element of the fast race car driving provides a balanced dichotomy to more grounded themes within the film. There’s some diversity in the film with Andres Joseph playing one of Denny’s best friends alongside Ian Lake as Mike. Denny’s African-American lawyer Mark Finn (McKinley Belcher III) definitely reflects positive representation in casting and he’s just an all-around good fit for the role. The entire leading and supporting cast are well cast and there’s definitely a likable chemistry between present in all the scenes.
While others may consider the overall tone of the film as moralistic, I appreciated the philosophical parables and notions pontificated on by Enzo. The life lessons portrayed in the film are positive and lend themselves to further conversations with family members and peers about topics that matter such as: life, death, child-rearing, unexpected trials and not giving up hope on your dreams as well as not throwing in the towel when life seems bleak.
The film cast includes: Kevin Costner, Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Gary Cole, Kathy Baker, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Martin Donovan, McKinley Belcher III
The film is produced by Joannie Burstein, Patrick Dempsey, Tania Landau and Neil H. Moritz.
The Art of Racing In The Rain is rated PG and premieres nationwide on August 9th, 2019. Learn more about The Art Of Dancing In The Rain here.