‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ delivers a storyline that is ‘ruff’ around the edges

I’m the first to admit that I love dogs. I’ve had four of my own, and I can say nothing makes my heart happier than watching dogs. So when Simon Curtis’ “The Art of Racing in the Rain” came out, I knew I had to see it.

The movie takes place through the eyes of Enzo (Kevin Costner), a lovable and adorable dog. Adopted as a puppy by Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), an aspiring race car driver, Enzo grows to believe he has one purpose: to protect and serve his master.
As Swift goes through many trials and triumphs – marriage, the birth of his child, deaths, a financial crisis, lawsuits – Enzo continuously over voices his own words of wisdom, because he thinks like a human. However, the movie falls flat due to Enzo being so smart and the missing details in the plot.

It is not just the fact that Enzo thinks like a human; he shares his own philosophies as if he has a PhD in psychology. The movie is a tearjerker, in part because of Enzo’s philosophies on his life, but all it takes is a quick reality-check to realize that dogs aren’t humans and it’s hard to pretend that they are.

While it is fun to imagine what your dog is thinking, a realistic movie plot cannot be made out of this thinking. A dog with such advanced thoughts takes a part of the fun out of movies with dogs. Enzo is near perfect, responding to every call and following every command. There are close to no silly shenanigans in the movie because Enzo is just so intelligent.

Additionally, the movie skips over several details that the novel, written by Garth Stein, includes to help make the plot more cohesive. The viewer has to fill in lots of seemingly necessary details to figure out how did we get to be here.

Take Denny’s financial situation, for example: he is able to afford the best lawyer in all of Seattle, but he works as a car mechanic and part-time race car driver. While in the book this is addressed by Denny selling his home, in the movie, he just talks about how he is running out of money, and never does anything about it.

Overall, I would give the movie two-and-half stars out of five. It had the opportunity to strike the right chord and become the next “Marley and Me,” however, Enzo’s ridiculous intelligence and the consistent plot-holes make for a movie that just doesn’t bark the right tune.