Based on the novel of the same name by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a heartwarming foray into the mind of Enzo the golden retriever. Voiced by Kevin Costner, our four-legged narrator guides us through the life of his owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia). On the surface, this film is a lighthearted romp but the film touches on deeper issues.
The naivety of Enzo softens the serious moments and adds comedic touches throughout in a way that is endearing but sometimes ventures into cringey. The dialogue is not always the strongest, whilst most lines are lifted directly from the book, others are oddly jarring, particularly in scenes that are meant to be deeper or thought-provoking. This jarring nature extends to the camera shots from Enzo’s point of view, they detract from the flow of the film by adding an unnecessary stylistic element that doesn’t quite land.
Milo Ventimiglia is the rock of the film, playing the struggling husband and father fighting against everything life deals him. He is, unfortunately, a rather two-dimensional character, though this is arguably due to the source material and Enzo’s complete faith in him. Every one of the cast is placed into a distinct role ranging from villainous grandad (Martin Donovan) to devoted wife (Amanda Seyfried). There are no shades of grey here but that might be due to our narrator being colourblind.
Overall, The Art of Racing in the Rain is the kind of film you watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It is by no means a bad film but it does not venture past character archetypes. It is reminiscent of Marley and Me (2008) in that it is a simple but effective formula which produces an okay film. Who doesn’t want to spend an hour or so in the mind of man’s best friend? For that reason alone it is undeniably watchable and if you allow yourself to escape into it you might even find yourself shedding a tear or two.
Words by Danni Scott