Kevin Costner As a Wise Dog

Man’s best friend. Almost immediately, everyone begins thinking of their favorite dog. It’s a maudlin sentiment, but one that has power for many dog owners.

Based on a popular novel by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing In The Rain is a warm and sincere tale narrated by a dog named Enzo. Voiced by Kevin Costner, the insightful canine calmly watches over his master, an aspiring Formula One race car driver.

Through Costner’s laid-back voiceover work, Enzo expresses folksy pet wisdom in almost constant narration as he follows his master’s travails in life. Learning from his master, most of Enzo’s wisdom comes in racing metaphors. Costner is a perfect choice for the role.

… less racing action than trailers indicate but every dog person will fall in love with Enzo’s friendly canine charms.

Capitalizing on his recent success with This Is Us, Milo Ventimiglia stars as the plucky Denny Swift. The young race car driver picks out a pup and names him Enzo, after legendary race car driver Enzo Ferrari. Denny and Enzo quickly establish an unbreakable bond, one that will get tested as Denny’s family grows bigger.

Denny soon meets the love of his life, Eve (Amanda Seyfried). Enzo watches as the couple grows closer, wondering why Denny likes her. Things change even more for the canine companion when Denny’s young daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) is born. Enzo is always there for the ups and downs in Denny’s family.

The PG movie doesn’t try to be anything but a genuine tale of love between a man and his dog. When the plot throws obstacles into Denny’s life, even harsh ones like a bitter custody battle, Enzo’s calming presence acts like a salve. It is an endearing tearjerker made for dog lovers and race car enthusiasts.

The Art of Racing In The Rain is ultimately a positive, uplifting movie with sentimental storytelling. Largely dismissed by critics for its touching but sappy plot, director Simon Curtis has fashioned a crowd-pleasing family drama.

Sometimes a movie works because it touches emotions rooted in the human condition. This is one such movie despite the manipulative and overly abundant melodrama. There’s less racing action than trailers indicate but every dog person will fall in love with Enzo’s friendly canine charms.

Video

Finished at 4K for its digital intermediate from Arri Alexa cameras, Fox surprisingly bypassed releasing The Art of Racing In The Rain on UHD. 20th Century Fox may have thought family fare like this possibly wouldn’t sell well on the high-end format. The winning picture quality is richly colored and razor-sharp on Blu-ray. The crisp cinematography offers strong definition and clarity.

A high-bitrate AVC encode transparently renders the 1.78:1 video without artifacts. The pristine presentation receives a nigh perfect technical transfer and encode courtesy of Fox. Shadow delineation could be a touch better in a few scenes but this is video quality made for videophiles.

It’s clear the movie was shot as eye candy for auto enthusiasts, especially the gorgeous racing and driving scenes,. Denny drives a wide range of racing cars, from stock to F1 racers. They look immaculately detailed in close-ups with a color grading that enhances their natural shine and vivid paint jobs. There’s appreciable depth and dimension. Slightly warm with neutral flesh-tones, the top-notch video quality probably deserves UHD.

Audio

The nicely balanced 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio provides excellent ambient immersion. The racing scenes show off a well-crafted surround mix, featuring palpable low end and directional movement across the entire soundstage. Dialogue is cleanly intelligible and meshes well with the wider presentation of the musical soundtrack. A few Pop songs work as mood enhancers, heard in open and transparent quality. The audio falls just shy of being demo material, lacking the constant presence and massive dynamics of the best action movies.

Optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles play in a white font. Spanish, French and English Descriptive audio options come in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Extras

Fox issues The Art of Racing In The Rain with a slipcover. The included Movies Anywhere digital copy redeems in HDX quality on MA providers.

By today’s standards this is a fairly packed assortment of featurettes, featuring most cast members and the director giving contributions. Glossy and bubbly coverage veers towards EPK territory but there’s more than enough interesting footage here worth seeing.

Audio Commentary By Director Simon Curtis – A casual and engaging discussion by Curtis as he delves into the movie’s production behind the scenes.

A Journey to Screen (05:48 in HD) – A typically fluffy featurette with the author discussing his novel and its transition to the big screen.

Directing the Art (05:09 in HD) – Simon Curtis and several cast members discuss the project.

Enzo Cam (04:39 in HD)

Behind the Wheel (06:12 in HD) – The cast’s dedication to getting the racing footage correct and training.

The Dog Stays in the Picture (06:19 in HD)

Enzo’s First Ride (05:24 in HD) – Behind-the-scenes footage of Enzo’s scene riding in the car.

Fox Trailers (HD) – Where’d You Go and Bernadette play before the main menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

High on the melodrama, an endearing and sentimental tearjerker made for dog lovers and race car enthusiasts.

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User Review
3 (1 vote)

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