And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain is based on a book that’s apparently reduced plenty of readers to a puddle of mush since its publication in 2008. The film adaptation aims to do the same – and succeeds, to some degree. Complicit in the drive to unleash the waterworks is a cast that includes the king of the half-crooked smile, Milo “Jack Pearson” Ventimiglia (This Is Us) and a sweet, philosophical golden retriever whose mix of comical and poignant inner thoughts are voiced by Kevin Costner. It’s a heartfelt, bittersweet tale that pet owners can easily appreciate and relate to. But it’s also sad – and at times maddening. Way more so than I expected (having not read the book), especially for a film rated PG. Maybe that stands for ‘Pet Guidance’ suggested. So be sure and ask your dog if the material seems suitable for family viewing.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Secret Life of Pets; Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates; Life, Animated; Zero Days

The Secret Life of Pets is one of those movies that is probably critic-proof because the trailer is so darn cute and promising that kids (and many adults too) will be eager to see it, no matter what. Still, I would be remiss to give it a glowing endorsement when I was, in fact, disappointed. I loved the first 15 minutes and the last 10 minutes of this movie. But everything in between dragged for me as the tone of the movie turned rather dark. The premise is awesome — what kind of lives are our pets leading when we leave them home alone for hours at a time? They party! They get together for walks! They watch telenovellas! The characters (dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, etc.) are all well-drawn, and well-voiced by the likes of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Albert Brooks. My issue is with the shift in tone from fun animal adventure to animated crime saga. The Secret Life of Pets is certainly way better than recent duds Ratchet and Clank, Norm of the North, and Angry Birds… but not nearly as good as Finding Dory and Zootopia. Oh well. I may not have loved The Secret Life of Pets, but I do predict the movie will boost attendance at theaters, animal shelters, pet stores, and dog parks! There’s also a cute short before The SLOP that features the Minions of Despicable Me fame.

Top Ten Big-Screen Pet Names of 2011

Our friends over at have compiled their top ten list of the best pet names in the movies for 2011. Check it out:

This was a great year for animals on the silver screen — from several fabulous dogs and a heroic horse to one unbelievably talented monkey. So if you and your family welcomed a new pet this holiday season, you might consider naming him or her after one of these very worthy movie stars.

1.  Arthur, played by Cosmo — Rescue dog Cosmo is a true canine star, having appeared in such hit movies as Hotel for Dogs as Friday and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  This Jack Russell Terriergives such a natural and charming performance alongside Ewan MacGregor in the acclaimed film Beginners, his name is even being barked about for an Academy Award nod. In terms of name value, Arthur fits the current trend of giving pets classic people names, while Cosmo (short for “cosmopolitan”) is a very cool and sophisticated moniker for a fan of the cocktail — or for fans of Seinfeld, since it turns out to be Kramer‘s long-hidden first name.