On entering my local ODEON I had limited expectations of yet another Hollywood dog story. Where mans best friend holds a universal knowledge and understanding of life that humans often struggle to achieve.
Adapted from the ‘Kleenex’ sponsored book by film producer Garth Stein. The Art of Racing in the Rain takes us on a journey through the life of a golden retriever named Enzo. Placing his wisdom and inner thoughts into the hands of a gruff and wise sounding Kevin Costner. Yes that’s right Costner has gone from Robin Hood to golden retriever!
Surrounded by his family, Costner’s Enzo takes us on a journey into life, loss and meaning that is aimed squarely at your tear ducts. And I freely admit that the end result works in ensuring not a dry eye is left in the cinema. For anyone (like me) who looks at their dog every single day, with the knowledge that your furry companion knows more about you than probably any other living creature. This is a film that tugs on your heart strings, makes you hug your dog closer, and buy them a piece of roast chicken as a thank you on the way home from the cinema.
Denny (Milo Ventimiglia) is a semi professional race car driver renowned for an ability to handle his car in wet conditions (just as well with all tears). On getting a new dog called Enzo (Costner), Denny and Enzo become inseparable, Enzo guiding and encouraging Denny in his life and career. When Denny falls in love with Eve and then has a baby, the family unit is complete. Enzo proudly protecting them all as his doggy duty, believing that dogs who do well can become humans in the next life. But as Eve begins to feel unwell the family soon becomes shrouded in darkness. Enzo stoically trying to fulfil his doggy duty by keeping the family afloat.
The Art of Racing in the Rain isn’t cinematic gold, at many times feeling like it was destined to be shown on Channel 5 or Hallmark in the 2pm real story weep fest slot. But it never tries to hide that, embracing its sentimentality and melodrama at every turn. It’s not designed to sweep you off your feet, it’s designed to have you blubbering in the cinema aisles. I for one give it some credit for achieving its core purpose beautifully.
There’s nothing new here that hasn’t been seen or done before, and its ending is one of the cheesiest feel good endings I have seen in years. But Racing in the Rain wears its heart on its sleeve. And I defy anyone to not be wiping tears from their eyes, before the lights come up in the cinema, and the rest of the audience realise, it got you, and it got you good.