“The Art of Racing in the Rain”

 

            This movie is told from the perspective of a dog.  Yes, we tend to anthropomorphize our dogs, attributing to them human thoughts, feelings, emotions, even wisdom.  This is the plot device of the whole film.  If you're a dog lover, you will understand and enjoy.  If you're not, you won't.

            Enzo (the voice of Kevin Costner) is a golden retriever whom we first meet at the end, when he's old.  But we haven't yet had time to get attached to him.  The rest is flashback, beginning when Enzo was a puppy, adopted by Denny (Milo Ventimiglia) on a whim.  Denny is a race car driver.  He likes nothing better than being behind the wheel.  But he also loves his dog, and takes him out frequently on his jogs, which is where he meets Eve (Amanda Seyfried).

            Actually, Enzo informs us that he's not sure, at first, what to think of Eve.  He knows he now has a rival for his master's affections.  And Eve says she isn't really a “dog person.”  However, they learn to appreciate each other.  Enzo narrates us through Denny's attempts at getting established as a race car driver, and starting a family with Eve (after serving as the “ring bearer” at the wedding). They have a girl, Zoe, and everything seems perfect.  Until it isn't.

            Yes, we have plenty of drama, heartache, and conflict among the humans.  Enzo at several points wishes he could talk like humans, but he's convinced that he'll be re-incarnated as a man, where all his dog experiences will be imprinted upon his soul.  He knows this because he watched a documentary about dogs in Mongolia.  Yes, Enzo loves watching television, particularly race car driving.  He yearns to be able to ride in a real race car, just once.

            They warn you to bring your tissues to this one, but it's not all emotional.  There are some light moments, and some happy ones, as well.  There's also lots of footage of Enzo, and before long, yes, we find ourselves anthropomorphizing him, as well.  And why not?  He's a lovable character.

            Yes, those who thrive on unabashed sentimentality will enjoy this one.  But for the dog lovers, it's a real treat.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association