THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN Review — Not Pawsome

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The Art of Racing in the Rain review — You’ll be surprised to find out who was the bad dog in this pack.

The Art of Racing in the Rain reviewIt would be impossible to make a movie about an adorable Golden Retriever named Enzo growing from puppyhood to adulthood without some very tender moments, and plenty of opportunities for audiences to exclaim “Awwwww!” The Art of Racing in the Rain has these sweet moments in abundance.

The adorable doggie cast is responsible for some of the film’s best, as is to be expected. Most of the human cast is fine as well. This is Us fanatics will get their much desired fix of Milo Ventimiglia, as Denny Swift, a race car driver based in Washington and Enzo’s owner.  Amanda Seyfried is radiant, even when the chips are down, as Eve, Denny’s girlfriend, then wife.

But the narrator? The guy who tells the tale from the dog’s point of view and therefore has about 80% of the lines? He sounds as if he’s reading the fairly erudite script for the first time in a gruff, emotion-free voice, perhaps while sitting in an all too comfortable position.

The script, based on Garth Stein’s bestselling book of the same name, is a bit difficult, because Enzo sounds as if he’s far more sophisticated than his owners. But surely a seasoned actor like Kevin Costner could handle that. And helmer Simon Curtis certainly could have directed Costner to put a little more heart and effort into his performance. His gravely monotone lost me from the very beginning.

That beginning, by the way, shows Enzo on his sad last legs. What an odd place to start a sentimental dog movie! The rest of the film involves Enzo reminiscing about his lovely life, and the not so lovely lives of his family, which has to bear more burdens than most.

I’m always disconcerted by movies with a narrators who don’t survive the film. What…is he narrating from heaven? How can he be telling the tale if he didn’t live to tell the tale? It makes no sense to me.

Granted, I’m perfectly willing to suspend disbelief for the anthropomorphization of a dog (just ask Frankie Feldman), so perhaps I should cut the movie more slack. Despite its lackluster narration and unoriginal storytelling, The Art of Racing in the Rain, is after all, sweet, harmless and emotional. There are worse things for a film to be.

If, after reading this The Art of Racing in the Rain review you still want to go out and see the film, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Rated PG

1 Hour 49 Minutes

The Art of Racing in the Rain review — You’ll be surprised to find out who was the bad dog in this pack.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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