A Beautiful Movie
First - don't believe the hackneyed reviews from movie critics that this is a terrible, cliched dog movie. It's anything but. My sympathies to the critics who have difficulties seeing this movie for what it truly is. Maybe they're just cat people. Even better, it's not a sequel, or prequel and has no CG scenery, explosions, or violence, either. Yay!
If you've read Garth Stein's best-seller of the same name, or your children, the young-adult version, you'll see that the movie adheres to about 95% of the plot and definitely captures the sweet essence of the book, but reading the book beforehand isn't mandatory. If you DO see the movie first, you may wish to read the book afterwards - Garth Stein is a GREAT, nuanced author who knows how to capture the best of the human (and canine) spirit.
That being said, the story of race car driver, Denny Swift, his dog Enzo (who wants to come back someday as a human, so he too, can race), Denny's wife, Eve and daughter Zoe, is a rollercoaster of emotions, from over-the-top joy, to heartbreaking tragedy and back again. The ending is, indeed, joyous - just bring some Kleenex.
"The Art of Racing In The Rain" is one one of the best you'll see this year, or for a long time. Like a perfectly-prepared meal where all the ingredients and spices combine to make a memorable meal, the same can be said for this movie: a beautiful, poignant story, terrific acting, great directing, beautiful scenery (Seattle) and a subtle, mesmerizing soundtrack are all expertly combined to create a movie to enjoy now and for years to come. While actors Milo Ventimiglia (Denny), Amanda Seyfried (Eve) and Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Zoe) beautifully compliment the characters, it is Kevin Costner, as the voice of Enzo, played by Rupert (pup), Parker (two year-old Enzo) and Butler (ten year-old Enzo) that lends a beautiful depth and gravitas to the story as he shares his views of life and his time with Denny, Eve and Zoe.
Some themes in the movie (death, families in conflict, reincarnation) may be difficult for younger children to process, but older children (9+) should be fine with it - and one that they and the rest of the family can enjoy again and again. While it is departing many theaters this week, it should be available on DVD and via streaming soon.
Truly a wonderful, heart-warming story. I'll go as far as saying it's the best movie, ever.