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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Simon Curtis
Cast:
Milo Ventimiglia, Kevin Costner, Amanda Seyfried
Writing Credits:
Mark Bomback

Synopsis:
Through his bond with his owner golden retriever Enzo learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend:
$8,137,584 on 2765 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$26,395,642.

MPAA:
Rated PG.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date:11/5/2019
Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Simon Curtis
• “A Journey to Screen” Featurette
• “Directing the Art” Featurette
• “Enzo Cam” Featurette
• “Behind the Wheel” Featurette
• “The Dog Stays in the Picture” Featurette
• “Enzo’s First Ride” Featurette
• Trailer and Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Art of Racing in the Rain [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 3, 2019)

Taken from Garth Stein’s 2008 novel, 2019’s The Art of Racing in the Rain introduces us to Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner), an elderly Golden Retriever. As he nears the end, he reflects back on his life.

As a puppy, Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) adopts Enzo and the pair forms a tight bond. When he doesn’t work as a driving instructor and wannabe Formula One racer, Denny devotes his time to his furry companion.

Eventually, romance intervenes, as Denny meets and marries Eve (Amanda Seyfried). We follow all three as they navigate life’s ups and downs.

Boy, that’s a vague synopsis, isn’t it? Still, it’s pretty sufficient, as the film offers a dog’s-eye view of life.

Given my life-long love for dogs, Rain probably should endear itself to me, and occasionally it does, mainly when it concentrates on Enzo. Portrayed by a variety of pooches, he offers a charming canine presence, and the moments we focus on our furry friend work.

However, Enzo really acts as little more than a gimmick. Sure, the use of Costner as the dog’s voice brings his formal perspective, but ultimately, the story concentrates so much on the humans that Enzo’s involvement comes across as twist without much real purpose.

Not that Enzo’s life plays no role, but Rain really does concentrate mainly on Denny and Eve. Despite Enzo’s occasional moment to shine, the humans become the focal point.

This would feel like less of an issue if the Denny/Eve narrative felt more compelling. Alas, Rain saddles them with thin characters and trite melodrama.

Even with Denny’s career as a driver, nothing exciting or especially compelling occurs. We hit on a mix of soap opera elements without much impact or dramatic depth.

Rain also occasionally imbues Enzo with unrealistic levels of awareness and cognition. For instance, in one scene, he gets abandoned for an extended period, and we’re supposed to believe that he understands this from Minute One.

Really? No dog would read a situation in that way, much less strategically plan his survival as he awaits rescue.

The actors try their best, but they can’t flesh out the bland characters or script. None of them manage to do anything much with the parts.

As a dog-lover, Rain prompts emotions in me at times, mainly when Enzo nears his end. Otherwise, this becomes an overwrought melodrama without much impact.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Art of Racing in the Rain appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This delivered a positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness seemed solid. Occasional instances of slight softness materialized, but these remained fairly modest.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects. Both edge haloes and print flaws remained absent.

To the surprise of no one, Rain opted for a light sense of the usual orange and teal palette. The hues worked fine within those constraints and created no concerns.

Blacks appeared pretty deep and dense, while shadows seemed clear and concise. I thought the image worked fine and reproduced the source well.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack, it used the spectrum in the occasionally active manner I expected. The movie’s sporadic driving-oriented sequences fared the best, as they allowed the vehicles to zoom and zip around the room in a convincing manner.

General atmosphere also worked well, and the mix used all the speakers to bolster the score. This became a reasonably involving soundscape.

Audio quality seemed good, as music was bold and full. Effects appeared accurate and well-defined, with deep low-end as well.

Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess. The soundtrack added pizzazz to the proceedings.

We get a mix of extras here, and we launch with an audio commentary from director Simon Curtis. He presents a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, and related topics.

Overall, Curtis provides a good chat, as he covers the various production topics in a satisfying manner. In particular, I like the remarks related to the challenges connected to the canine performers. All this adds up to an enjoyable discussion.

A few featurettes follow, and A Journey to Screen fills five minutes, 48 seconds and offers notes from Curtis, author Garth Stein, driving instructor Don Kitch Jr., producers Tania Landau and Patrick Dempsey, screenwriter Mark Bomback, and actor Milo Ventimiglia.

We learn about the novel and its adaptation for the screen. We get a few decent details but nothing revelatory appears.

Via Directing the Art, we find a five-minute, nine-second reel with Curtis, Landau, Bomback, Ventimiglia, animal coordinator Teresa Ann Miller and actors Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Baker, Martin Donovan and Ryan Kiera Armstrong.

“Art” discusses how Curtis came to the project and his approach to the material as well as cast and performances, and story/characters. This becomes another fairly superficial program.

Enzo Cam goes for four minutes, 39 seconds and features Stein, Bomback, Curtis, and director of photography Ross Emery.

Here we get notes about photography and attempts to show the doggie POV. Though somewhat fluffy, it comes with a few useful insights.

Next comes Behind the Wheel, a six-minute, 12-second show with Curtis, Dempsey, Ventimiglia, production designer Brent Thomas and 2nd unit director Jeff Zwart.

“Wheel” goes into aspects of the driving scenes and Ventimiglia’s performance. Like its predecessors, it comes with some worthwhile moments but lacks great substance.

With The Dog Stays In the Picture, we locate a six-minute, 19-second program with Curtis, Ventimiglia, Stein, Armstrong, Miller, Landau and VFX supervisor Neil Eskuri. “Picture” views canine performances, and it offers some decent tidbits.

Enzo’s First Ride runs five minutes, 24 seconds and brings comments from Kitch, Ventimiglia, Zwart and Curtis. Like the title implies, “First” discusses Enzo’s big treat at the end of the movie. It seems serviceable.

The disc opens with ads for Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Breakthrough. Sneak Peek adds a promo for This Is Us, and we also find the trailer for Rain.

Even for someone who adores dogs, The Art of Racing in the Rain fails to connect. The movie fixates on melodrama and can’t find any real heart or spirit. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio along with a decent array of supplements. Rain turns into a sluggish dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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