Based off of the novel by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain follows to Swift family through the eyes of their witty and wise golden retriever, Enzo. While this narration style has been done before with films such as A Dogs Purpose, I believe The Art of Racing in The Rain sets itself apart for various reasons.
The Art of Racing in the Rain kind of reminds me of The Longest Ride (2015), based off of a Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name whereas it’s a romance with a strong focus on the main characters occupation and how that affects their life and those around them. When it comes to creating films like that, it is important to have someone behind the scenes who is familiar with the subject matter.
Patrick Dempsey, notably known for his illustrious acting career, took his turn on co-producing The Art of Racing in The Rain. The reason I’m zeroing in on Dempsey rather than his fellow co-producers is the connection Dempsey has to the film material. We all know that Dempsey has been dedicated to his acting career since his teenage years and that love for the industry blossomed into work behind the screen as well. However, something just as important as film and TV to Dempsey is racing and it shows through the attention to detail on aspects of Denny’s career as a race-car driver. This attention to detail along with a great cast are really what make this film.
The Art of Racing in The Rain starts off with a good foundation of great actors. Milo Ventimilgia, most recently known for his amazing portrayal as Jack Pearson on This Is Us, showing us that he is no stranger to playing the role of swoon-worthy dad. You may also recognize him from shows such as Heroes or Gilmore Girls (a little bonus for all of you who were Team Jess), and as Denny, he didn’t give anything less than his best and truly gave Denny’s character dimension.
We also get the pleasure of having Amanda Seyfried play opposite of Milo Ventimiglia as his partner, Eve. Casting Seyfried was no coincidence with her experience in rom-coms and just as it was no coincidence it was definitely not a mistake either. Seyfried made Eve feel like someone you could actually know and like, allowing us to connect with the film and characters easily. And of course, we have Kevin Costner voicing Enzo, our favourite four-legged furry friend. Voicing the thoughts of a dog isn’t the easiest of tasks, but if anyone was up for the job, it was Kevin Costner.
If you aren’t a dog person, you might not like this movie. With the narration coming from the mind of Enzo, the film is very dog centric. I would say that the primary story and primary relationships focused on in this film involve those with Enzo, particularly Denny and Enzo. So if you’re coming here for well-developed human relationships, you might be a little disappointed. While the relationships between Denny, Eve, Zoe and the rest of the people in the film don’t fall flat, they aren’t the most complex of relationships either. They’re just realistic, however that doesn’t make them badly curated.
Is the plot cliché? Maybe. Does that make it unenjoyable though? Not necessarily. We all love a good romance whether you’d like to admit it or not. And that’s what this film is. But it isn’t just a romance between Denny and Eve, but a romance of family and life itself. We get to experience so many different journeys and so many new beginnings. The beginning of Enzo’s life, the beginning of Denny’s relationship with Eve, the beginning of Zoe’s life… we get to watch all of those beginnings and see them develop and follow each journey.
That is why I’ll argue that although this plot has perhaps what some would count as cliché tropes sprinkled throughout the film, you ultimately get what you take from it. And what I took from the film is its lessons of the importance of forming familial bonds and cherishing those special moments, including those with your pets. Maybe I’m just a sucker for romance, but I believe that this film can have something in it for everyone. When The Art of Racing in The Rain comes out, I recommend to watch it whether that’s in the theatre right after it comes out or perhaps at home months later as your guilty pleasure.
Rating – 7.5/10