Kevin Costner is the voice of Enzo in “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a dog everyone is sure to fall in love with.
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES
Spoiler alert!Â The followingÂ reveals plot details of “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”
Yes, â€œThe Art of Racing in the Rainâ€ made me cry. Duh.
But you probably already knew that if you learned the bare minimum about the new film adapted fromÂ the Garth Stein novel of the same name: Itâ€™s a dramaticÂ tale about a dog.
As for where it ranks on the emotional canine-story scale, Ishould noteÂ I was always too scared to watch “Marley Me,” because I was concerned for my own boxer’sÂ health around the time it came out.Â But whereas “Marley”Â was a sad dog movie disguised as a Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson rom-com, “The Art of Racing” (in theaters now).Â doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a pet lover’s saga.
And unlike â€œA Dogâ€™s Journey,” the movie franchiseÂ that pet lovers have already watched through wet eyes,Â â€œThe Art of Racing in the Rainâ€ feels like a more earnedÂ tearjerker. It doesnâ€™t deliver sobs by repeatedlyÂ killing and reincarnating dogs, andÂ it doesnâ€™t give its canine star the unfunny inner monologue of a 4-year-old.
Instead, â€œArt of Racingâ€ follows one dog, golden retriever Enzo, withÂ Kevin Costner asÂ our sage furry narrator, the all-knowing best friend of race-car driver Denny (Milo Ventimiglia).
It’s through Enzo’s wise wordsÂ that this movie wrecks you.Â Iâ€™m not talking a single tear; I mean full-on sobbing. (Though the movie didn’t quite reach pillow-soaked levels of hysterics brought on by Netflix’s documentary series “Dogs,”Â which, in its first episode,Â follows a young girl with epilepsy who meets her service dog.)
Even when I watch Enzo run through the rain in the trailer, I almost tear up.Â Can you imagine what sitting through the movie was like for me?
Well, I’ll tell you. Here’sÂ a breakdown of how the 110-minute movie went on a sniffle-to-sob scale.
Seriously, this is your final warning: Stop reading now if you don’t want to know what happens.
At the beginning of the movie, we see an old, feeble Enzo. His story is told as a flashback starting when Denny first picks him out of a litter. The pup quickly bonds with his human over a shared love of fast cars, and becomes something of aÂ pit dog at the racetrack Denny frequents.
Years pass, Enzo is no longer a puppy, and heÂ isn’tÂ too keen on Denny spending time with a new woman, Eve (Amanda Seyfried).
â€œYou donâ€™t mind if I love him, too?â€ Eve eventually asks the pooch. Enzo might mind a bit, but he makes the most beautiful ring bearer at their wedding, regardless. I can’t stand it.
When Denny and Eve welcome their first child,Â Enzo gets a little human sister, Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). â€œWhen she would tell her playmates that I was her big brother, my heart would swell with pride,â€ Enzo says. I feel a lump in my throat growing. It hurts.
And then the happy throat lump becomes a sad one: Things start to get extremely depressing.
Eve has a terminal illness. Enzo stays awake all night to watch over her, but can’t protect her. Eve dies, and Enzo tries to distract Zoe with a toy. She rebuffs him, and so the dog focuses on a grieving Denny.
â€œIt would fall to me to provide what he needed,â€ the thoughtful pooch says as he approaches his master, leash in mouth. The best boy.
At this point, the movie has combined many dramatic elements that could be tear-inducing on their own: sickness, a child coming of age, a dog being eternally loyal and then, the finisher, the dog being hit by a car. Itâ€™s all too much and now some saltwater has finally escaped my eyeball. Woof.
At least Enzo survives the accident. For a while.
As the movie starts heading toward the dying-dog portion of the story, thereâ€™s no more time for polite solitary tears. Now Iâ€™m running out of tissue space for the mascara thatâ€™s cascading down my cheeks. Let it rain!
Itâ€™s gotten to the point where Iâ€™m trying not to take involuntary cry-breaths. I scrunch my face in an effort to stay as quiet as possible as tears leak out of my eyes and â€“ this is new â€“ nose.
The ending, whichÂ hints that Enzo has been reincarnated as a boy who loves racing, is outrageously corny, but I don’t care. I watch it and cry harder.
Minutes later, I feel relief. As though I have been purged of stress. I feel calm. Hours later, my eyes sting from having done so much crying.
Full disclosure: Iâ€™m writing this while petting my friendâ€™s golden retriever. (Did I invite myself over andÂ invite the dog to rest on my lap as I type? Yes, yes I did.)Â Also: I first read â€œThe Art of Racing in the Rainâ€ right after my dog died. Could that mean I feel more of an emotional connection to the story than the average film fan? Perhaps;Â results may vary.