The Art of Racing in the Rain seeks to answer the question whether, as in Mongolia, a dog that is truly ready can reincarnate as a human. Along the ride, we are shamelessly manipulated by love, puppies, race cars, tragedy, betrayal, redemption, forgiveness, and the inevitable cute kid. Truly, this movie is a date-night tear-jerker. Currently, the Audience score sits at 95% consistent with the 156 weeks its underlying book spent on The New York Times bestseller list. I give this movie 4 Gavels while the cold-hearted critics stand at a measly 49% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In another life, he would be a race car driver. In this one, Enzo is stuck being a dog. Still, he is passionately devoted to his master, even after Denny interrupts their idyllic life sharing time with Eve. Enzo narrates life’s lessons through the lens of a dog, through the good years and the rough patches. And, if Enzo thinks Eve is a bump in the road, Zoe is that sharp curve. Rest assured, more rain is on the horizon.
Dogs seem to understand humans. Kevin Costner is so wonderful, so empathetic as the voice of Enzo, the very characteristics he lacks as John Dutton in Yellowstone. Milo Ventimiglia is quite good as Denny, Enzo’s owner and best friend. Milo just looks and acts like a race car driver. And Amanda Seyfried, as Eve, looks and acts like a teacher. Together, they make a nice couple.
Given the emotional tug-of-war, one could guess that Walt Disney Studios was in the background somewhere. In this case, buy Fox and become the distributor. The critics are just brutal as they harp on the sentimentality of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Do they ever read the book before they review the movie? Of course, it is sentimental! It’s a love story! Enzo is one smart dog, but he is no Lassie performing super-dog feats. Enzo knows his limitations and intends to pass on what he learns. That he learns lots about human nature, and racing, is what keeps this movie on track. And, so what if some of that precipitation you feel is not rain. It shows you are alive! Bring on the umbrellas (and the tissues)!