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The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain: Cute, but Next

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Yasmeen Mamdouh
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The Art of Racing in the Rain: Cute, but Next

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At any candy store kids probably go for the most colorful candy, but with time they usually learn that these may actually be the worst tasting ones. Like a rainbow colored candy, The Art of Racing in the Rain has many attractive elements yet the taste does not live up to expectations.

The Art of Racing in the Rain follows golden retriever Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner) and his car racing human Denny (Milo Ventimiglia). Enzo is not like any other dog, as he has always been described as more human than dog, and actually believes that one day he will be reincarnated as a human, where he will fulfill his lifelong dream of racing. Enzo and Denny’s simple best-friend relationship is complicated when Denny meets Eve (Amanda Seyfried), marries her, and has baby daughter Zoe. Even though Enzo continues to do whatever he can to help Denny and his family, a man’s best friend can’t fix everything life throws at you.


The core of the plot is the life of Enzo and how Denny -and later on his family- fit into it. However, the film incorporates too many seemingly haphazard elements that make its focus unknown. From Enzo’s reincarnation beliefs, Denny’s career, Enzo and Denny’s relationship, and Enzo’s relationship with Zoe, to Denny’s fight to keep his daughter; the feature is just a cluttered mess.

Instead, the filmmakers of The Art of Racing in the Rain shamelessly play an effective card, which is the emotional manipulation, and what’s a better way to manipulate audiences than with a cute dog. The feature does not stop at this point, it adds tear-jerking drama that is not effective, because the storyline or the script are any good but simply because you would be a robot if you are not just a little bit sad about a dying dog, a worn out cancer patient and a sad little girl.

However, that card is not in full effect not only because of the messy plot, but also because of how shallow its characterization is. The feature’s characters seem like two-dimensional cutouts that try to serve their only purpose of making you temporarily sympathize. 

For the acting, Kevin Costner’s voice performance was too stiff and wise to be a golden retriever or any other dog for that matter, which is both the fault of his voice acting as well as the script. Milo Ventimiglia is easily plausible as a loving dog owner, but when it comes to the sad scenes that require more than his one facial expression he somewhat struggles. Amanda Seyfried’s role makes her out to be almost like an angel to get audiences to sympathize with which Seyfried is very much able to do even if that meant being a one tune character.

It is always cute watching dogs in action but, out of the many dog movies that are made, only few become iconic and The Art of Racing in the Rain is not one of them.

Like This? Try

Marley & Me (2008), Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009), A Dog's Purpose (2017).

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Based on the book by Garth Stein.

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