The love story between canine Enzo and race car driver Denny is indeed that intense, not to mention tied in a tangled bow with a lovely wife with a horrible disease, a precocious daughter with grandparents who think they know what’s best and will go to court to prove it, and, well, many people in Denny’s life who accept Enzo for the damn smart dog he is.
Adapted from the popular novel by Garth Stein, this screenplay by Mark Bomback directed by Simon Curtis pushes every emotional button it can.
We start at the conclusion of this wide dog’s life as Denny finds his beloved friend spent at the front door, waiting for his return. Then we circle back to the start as Enzo is picked from the litter, and the whole, delirious ride for the pair.
Enzo, voiced as grizzled and usually the smartest person in the room by Kevin Costner, watches and learns with big eyes and great emotional involvement.
He’s a big part of the story, always, as things go up and down, a sturdy conscience for a high morality tale of rights and wrongs, good and bad.
Denny is played very well as an always straight shooter by Milo Ventimiglia, of honest-dad TV fame from This Is Us. He’s balanced well by supportive wife Eve, in a great turn by Amanda Seyfried.
Try as they might, though, nobody can equal the presence of Enzo.
The sad parts are really, really sad.
But we are better people for having met this dog, for sure.
Central New Yorkers can view The Art of Racing in the Rain free as part of the Movie Matinee series in the Liverpool Public Library’s Carman Community Room, at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 and 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31.