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Art of Racing in the Rain, The


Stars: Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan, Kevin Costner (voice)

Director: Simon Curtis

Once upon a time his dog was Man's Best Friend.

Not any more, though.

Now Man's Best Friend is surely his mobile phone, the super source of all information and, possibly (surely not!) something to be checked when movie-watching boredom sets in.

Here director Curtis sensibly settles for charm rather than credibility in bringing Garth Stein's best-seller to the screen in dedicated audience-friendly terms, resulting in an unexpectedly appealing if a tad old-fashioned family film propelled by the voice of unseen leading man/narrator Costner speaking for the film's canine catalyst Enzo.

Philosophical hound Enzo - who believes he will be reincarnated as a man when his canine life is over - bonds with his new owner, aspirant Formula One racing car driver Ventimiglia, and acts as narrator to Ventimiglia's career progress, his family highs and tragic lows involving his wife Seyfried and their young daughter Armstrong...

Ventimiglia, Seyfried and the other mere two-legged performers do everything that is required of them and do it well, leaving the unseen Costner to steal the show and drive the emotional track as narrator.

It's the kind of resolutely family-friendly film that is almost certainly destined to be greeted with critical sneers because of its deliberate emotional warmth. That said, the unseen Costner - cinema's most literate dog, ever (Eat your heart out, Lassie!) and the key visible actors play the sentimental story straight, creating an old-fashioned but unexpectedly (if not for dedicated cinema cynics) charming if somewhat sentiment-heavy story aimed at ordinary cinemagoers rather than subtext-seeking cineastes.

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
108 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Aug 2019