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film review
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Milo Ventimiglia plays Denny Swift, a race car driver who displays zero negative emotion about his wife's brain cancer or his custody battle.Doane Gregory/Handout

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain
  • Directed by: Simon Curtis
  • Written by: Mark Bomback, based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Garth Stein
  • Starring: Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried and Kevin Costner
  • Classification: PG; 109 minutes
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Kevin Costner voices the golden retriever named Enzo. Amanda Seyfried plays the deathly ill wife.Doane Gregory/Handout

For most of the feeble, unmoving 109 minutes of The Art of Racing in the Rain, a Kevin Costner-voiced golden retriever named Enzo longs for death. I felt the same way.

The pooch wishes for sweet relief because he believes he will be reincarnated as a human capable of expressing complex emotions. Costner probably feels the same way. Maybe the whole cast does. Because The Art of Racing in the Rain, based on a bestselling dog-loving novel of the same name, is as numbly acted a film as I’ve ever seen.

New movies in theatres this week: The thoughtfully weighty Luce and the unentertaining Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Milo Ventimiglia is race car driver Denny Swift, who bizarrely accepts his wife’s brain cancer, his custody battle for his daughter with his in-laws and an up-and-down career with barely a blink of an eye – no anger, frustration or anything. Amanda Seyfried plays the deathly ill wife with all the smiling blankness of a Stepford Wife with a hangnail. Costner hilariously goes full McGruff the Crime Dog for his narrator’s voice.

The dog drops banal pearls of wisdom as if he were pooping on a rug or peeing on the floor (which he does often, and to the same effect). This is a sentimental movie that forgot to be sentimental. At one point, the project (from the producers of Marley & Me) couldn’t land a director. I’m not sure they ever did.

The Art of Racing in the Rain opens Aug. 9.

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