Perhaps, during such troubled times, we need to believe in a higher power that is as steady and accessible as a dog, with their unyielding devotion and searching eyes. As animal lovers, we want to believe there something more to the dog-human connection than just food and shelter, and movies from a dog point of view assert their emotional intelligence and humanity while celebrating their inherent doggishness. While this has been explored with cutesy morbidity in the pup reincarnation series 'A Dog Purpose' and 'A Dog Way Home,' 'The Art of Racing in the Rain,' directed by Simon Curtis, written by Mark Bomback and adapted from the 2008 novel by Garth Stein, takes an approach that far more erudite.
He laments the engineering of his flat tongue, which prevents him from expressing anything more complicated than monosyllabic sounds, and announces he lying in 'a puddle of my own making. ' The metaphor does not neatly track onto the life lessons presented, but it offers the characters a chance to speak often about manifesting their own reality. It heady but incredibly vague, and the unpredictable variables thrown Denny and Enzo way are doozies: a romance and marriage with the beautiful Eve (Amanda Seyfried), the birth of Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), terminal illness, litigious in-laws, custody battles, financial trouble, etc.
'The Art of Racing in the Rain' is ostensibly a story about what Enzo the dog learns about life as a companion to Denny, Eve and Zoe, a wordless omnipresence who takes it all in, the good, the bad and the ugly.
One would hope that perhaps a film filled with such melodrama and pathos would unearth an observation about the existential nature of life and death beyond 'racing cars is fun.
' 'The Art of Racing in the Rain' Rated: PG for thematic materialRunning time: 1 hour, 49 minutesPlaying: In general release