For those of you that know me personally, you would know that not only do I love movies, I also have a huge love for dogs. Despite the fact that I have never owned one in my life, I have been blessed with numerous wonderful dogs in my life. From past dogs named Hershey, Caramel, Buster, and Chloe, to dogs currently in my life such as Cowboy, Bones, Chopper, Ajax, Val, and Sparky (who is actually sitting right next to me as I type this). All of them have made an impact on my life. A dog’s love is something special. Of course they cannot talk back to you, but I do believe that they can easily understand human emotion. I am currently watching Sparky for a friend and it has been one of the highlights of my summer, and an honor. I have spent hours playing “tug of war” with him as well as throwing balls around for him to fetch. Sparky may be up there in age, but you would never know it. He has so much energy and a smile that warms your heart. I do talk to him throughout the day and he is always there to listen with his amazing smile. It is a special bond humans have with one of God’s greatest creations and it cannot be explained. In the new movie “The Art of Racing in the Rain” based off the best selling book, the audience gets to experience life from a dog’s perspective and it will make you hold your furry pawed buddy a little tighter.
In “The Art of Racing in the Rain” Denny (played by Milo Ventimiglia) has dreams to one day become a Formula One driver. He gets an itch, out of nowhere, to get a dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). Enzo sits and watching racing film with Denny and develops a love for racing, like Denny. Enzo then applies a few racing strategies to life. As Denny’s racing career starts to take off, he meets Eve (played by Amanda Seyfried) and starts a family. Not to spoil the movie, if you haven’t read the book, but the whole story is narrated by Enzo and he gives the audience a look into the life and emotions of a dog. Dogs can sometimes be written off as “stupid” or “dumb” when, in fact, dogs are quite the opposite. They see everything going on and are observant to more than humans are aware of around us. For example, in the movie, there is a scene where Enzo finds out the true intentions of a character and does not forget it later on in the story. Enzo gets revenge as best as he can manage.
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” book was released back in 2008. It has been some time since I read the book and I do not remember the finest details of the book but from what I recall, the movie does stay true to the book. The movie was able to bring back some of the memories I had while reading the book. I did cry while reading the book and the movie managed to wrangle tears from me too. It is still a tear jerking story! Nobody walked out of the theater whistling.
To be honest, the hour and forty nine minute run time seemed to drag near the end of the movie, but for the most part, it did hold my attention from start to finish. I just thought it could have been a tad bit shorter.
Ventimiglia and Seyfried did a terrific job acting as Denny and Eve. From Ventimiglia’s prior work on “This Is Us,” I knew he would be a great fit for Denny. Seyfried genuinely conveyed the emotions of a young sick woman battling cancer and you really did feel the love coming from her character. Naturally, Costner does steal the show voicing Enzo. Talking like an old wise man throughout the story, you really bought into the fact that a dog was telling you a story the entire time.
Despite the title of the movie, the movie is not really about racing. It is about what lessons from racing can be applied to life in order to navigate it properly. The message of the movie, and book, is simply to never give up. No matter what the odds, just never give up.
While “The Art of Racing in the Rain” is not a movie you need to rush out to the movies to see, it is worthy of a trip to the theater with your closest dog loving friend. If a theater somehow allows your dog to join you, all the better! Be sure to bring tissues!