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August 12, 2019

The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) --- “Meet The Dog Who Will Show The World How To Be Human.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     One day, while on his way home from work, Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), an aspiring Formula One race car driver, elects to adopt a puppy and so Enzo (Kevin Costner), a Golden Retriever, enters into his life. Enzo is not like other dogs and is strongly attuned to the lessons about racing and life that he picks up from his owner and their experiences together. Soon Denny meets and finds love with Eve (Amanda Seyfried), and while cautious, Enzo stays by Denny’s side, sharing his passion for racing and watching as Denny’s family grows with the birth of his daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). Over the years, Denny continues to chase his dreams, leaving Eve to keep the household together. But when the family goes through some tough times and Eve’s parents (Martin Donovan and Kathy Baker) present a challenge to Denny, Enzo observes it all as he finds that life’s everyday experiences are just like being on a racetrack. 

     Directed by Simon Curtis (Woman in Gold, Goodbye Christopher Robin), written by Mark Bonback (War for the Planet of the Apes), and based on the bestselling novel by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) is more than just your average dog film and far surpasses others of its kind, like A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Journey earlier this year. The film is successful because it effectively combines the author’s love of race car driving and the mindset necessary to overcome its obstacles with enough canine perspective from Enzo to skew his human observations into often humorous misinterpretations. The story relies heavily on the built-in emotion pet lovers will bring to it and only the most sentiment lovers will be able to truly appreciate it. As a pet lover myself, we cannot help but wonder about these creatures who have taken over our lives completely. They observe our most intimate details in life, love us unconditionally, comfort us so compassionately, and are loyal to a fault. They ask for nothing in return except to love and be loved (and fed) in return. This is an emotionally stimulating film about the fragile nature of life and it will leave you with tears and smiles by the end. 
     While Enzo narrates the story, unlike the aforementioned films, he is in no way a naive dog. Kevin Costner’s (Highwayman, Yellowstone) soothing, gravel voice that envelops the audience like a comfortable blanket and gives Enzo a grandfatherly feel that was necessary to make this role successful. He is a wise old soul that understands what's happening around and supplies very much needed advice by using sports references and brief words of wisdom; similarly to a grandparent. He fills in character backstory and provides story exposition, while also conveying his own thoughts on certain experiences and moments. Milo Ventimiglia (Creed II, This is Us, Second Act) was a natural choice for the role of Denny as he has recently been known for embodying characters with heavy emotion. Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia 2, Scoob) is a versatile actress and here she brought the film even more sentiment. Ventimiglia and Seyfried have great chemistry together, which is important for the story’s success. The rest of the cast - Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Anne with an E), Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies), Kathy Baker (I’m Sorry, The Ranch), and Gary Cole (The Good Fight) - deliver some great performances and play off the main characters effectively. 
     Overall, The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019) is an entertaining and charming film that is quite possibly the best dog-based film of the year. The story is about the ups and downs of life, and how to find hope to keep going even when life becomes unfair and unbearable. It is about the bonds that we have with animals and their exceptional capability to love us unconditionally. It is also about pursuing one’s passions and that we have to stay true to ourselves even when everyone else is telling us to take the easy way out. The cast performances carry the story even further, especially Kevin Costner’s wonderful voice acting and narration. All in all, this is a fantastic family film that will make you laugh, cry, and smile all the way to the end.

Final Vote --- 7.3 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
After the Wedding (2019)
Blinded by the Light (2019)
Dog Days (2018)
A Dog's Purpose (2017)
A Dog's Journey (2019)
A Dog's Way Home (2019)
Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
Where'd You Go Bernadette (2019)

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