The Art of Racing in the Rain review- Kevin Costner as a lovable puppy

Costner voices the inner monologue of a golden retriever in this three-hankie weeper with Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried

There comes a time in any critic’s life when you have to suppress whatever footling objections you have had, and salute the Kevin Costneraissance. You have to bow down to the pure demonic inspiration of creating a sentimental live-action family film about a lovable golden retriever, whose grouchy inner monologue is voiced by none other than Kevin Costner. You have to put your hands up and say: I get it. The dog seems adorable, intelligent and sad-eyed, and just as owneds look like their pets, so dogs in weepie movies based on runaway New York Times bestselling books start to look like the veteran ex-romantic leads doing the voice- ie Costner. The morphing process is inexorable and by the closing credits, it’s basically Kevin Goldenretrievster we’re talking about, without CGI or the pointy ears that Judi Dench has to wear in Cats.

Screenwriter Mark Bomback has adapted the three-hankie property from author and movie producer Garth Stein, and Simon Curtis directs. They have created a movie aimed with lethal efficiency at your tear-ducts like Chuck Norris set his boot into your kidneys. Milo Ventimiglia plays Denny, a race car driver renowned for an ability to handle his vehicle in the rainfall- and perhaps also for piloting his family’s lives through a tear-fall of sadness. He’s devoted to his puppy, Enzo( Costner ), who with decent canine stoicism accepts the loss of attention when Denny falls in love with Eve( Amanda Seyfried) and then they have a newborn. But a dark darknes autumns when Eve begins to feel unwell. And who do you suppose is going to step up and keep the family together? The strictly outrageous final scene address Enzo’s own belief that dogs can evolve upwards into homo sapiens. His canine existence seems dignified enough to me.

* The Art of Racing in the Rain is released after the UK and US on 9 April.

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