There’s no simpler option to tug on a film viewers’s heartstrings than to current them with a dying canine. That’s a lesson that creator W. Bruce Cameron has discovered very nicely, with the box-office success of variations of his novels A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Journey, and the remainder of Hollywood has clearly been paying consideration. The Art of Racing within the Rain is predicated on one other best-selling canine novel, this one by Garth Stein from 2008, and the movie model has rather a lot in frequent with the Cameron-based canine motion pictures, most notably the near-constant narration from the primary canine himself.
Here, that’s Enzo, voiced by Kevin Costner at his world-weariest, even when Enzo is a pet, newly adopted by small-time race-car driver Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia). Enzo is extra self-aware than the energetic, considerably oblivious canine within the Cameron movies, absorbing details about the human world from his environment (and from watching TV). He’s a canine with a kind of existential longing, craving to be human himself and race automobiles like his human proprietor. He incessantly bemoans his incapacity to speak or decide up objects along with his paws, and he makes sensible observations which might be solely incongruous with the usually hyperactive canine seen onscreen. He additionally just about by no means shuts up, narrating practically each second of the film and injecting his dog-isms into each severe scene between the human characters.
There are quite a lot of these moments, too, since Racing within the Rain isn’t content material with simply manipulating the viewers’s sympathy for struggling animals. Denny meets and falls in love with beatific instructor Eve (Amanda Seyfried), and the film goes to Nicholas Sparks ranges of romantic tragedy, lurching from marriage to childbirth to terminal sickness to a courtroom custody battle. Eve specifically is a one-dimensional prop who will get much less character improvement than Enzo, and Seyfried has nothing to do apart from smile and undergo with equal magnificence and beauty. The relationship between Denny and his daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is simply as flimsy, and Kathy Baker and Martin Donovan present contrived plot obstacles as Eve’s judgmental mother and father.
Ventimiglia has loads of expertise with melodramatic hokum from his years on NBC’s cry-factory This Is Us, and Racing within the Rain is like This Is Dog, throwing in sufficient heartrending developments for half a season. Denny stays principally stoic by all of the setbacks, although, and the film depends on Costner’s voiceover to do many of the emotional heavy lifting. This definitely isn’t a refined film (Denny is a race-car driver named Swift, in any case), however screenwriter Mark Bomback and director Simon Curtis (who beforehand helmed middle-of-the-road treacle like Goodbye Christopher Robin and Woman in Gold) by no means know when to carry again even just a little bit, and the emotional onslaught shortly turns into numbing.
A wierd sequence that includes a home-alone Enzo hallucinating Zoe’s stuffed animals come to life suggests a extra surreal model of this story, however it’s only a temporary interlude in an in any other case solely bland, secure film that exists solely to wring as many tears from its viewers as doable. Enzo’s impending demise (introduced on the very starting of the film) ensures that consequence, however the low-cost tearjerking ploys are simply as phony as the thought of a speaking, philosophizing canine.