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film review

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

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.

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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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