“The Art of Racing in the Rain” (Fox 2000)

A dog named "Enzo" and Milo Ventimiglia appear in the movie "The Art of Racing in the Rain." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. (CNS/Fox)

By Catholic News Service

This otherwise benign tale of a man and his dog, adapted from the novel by Garth Stein, is marred by a treatment of reincarnation that prevents endorsement for impressionable viewers.

A wise old golden retriever (voice of Kevin Costner) narrates part of the life story of the aspiring Formula One racecar driver (Milo Ventimiglia) who adopted him as a puppy. Though his devoted owner faces professional and financial challenges, he hits the jackpot personally when he falls for a gentle teacher (Amanda Seyfried) and their model marriage produces a daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). But there are further difficulties ahead, beginning with the antipathy toward him of his wife’s snooty rich parents (Kathy Baker and Martin Donovan).

With its portrait of spouses who support each other admirably in good times and adversity alike, director Simon Curtis’ film, written for the screen by Mark Bomback, would normally be a movie to celebrate. Yet the seriousness with which it takes the pooch’s aspiration to return as a human being in his next life makes it problematic for youthful viewers. Their elders will note some clumsy storytelling and a high level of predictability. Probably acceptable for mature teens.

Implied premarital sexual activity, a single use of profanity, brief but graphic scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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