"The Art of Racing in the Rain": A Beautiful Movie about a Lovable Dog and His Giant Heart

Picture: 20th Century Fox

Picture: 20th Century Fox

This past week, I represented Hope at a pre-screening of the movie The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is set to be released on August 9th. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into the movie theater; most dog movies I’ve seen are trite, shallow movies designed to make viewers walk away with tear-stained faces and hearts full of fuzzy feelings that are soon forgotten in the harsh realities of daily life. However, after I finished The Art of Racing in the Rain, I walked away from the theater with yes, a tear-stained face, but also a heart full of hope that maybe good things can happen in the midst of life’s horrible tragedies.

The movie tells the story of Enzo, a golden retriever whose thoughts can be heard in the gravely voice of Kevin Costner. Enzo is adopted as a puppy by Denny Smith, an up-and-coming race car driver who is known for his ability to control cars even during rainstorms when the tracks are drenched with water. Enzo goes to every race with Denny, and he is there when Denny meets his lovely wife Eve, and when they have a beautiful daughter, Zoe.

Eventually, Eve contracts cancer and begins slowly fading from life, and Enzo stays awake every night to watch Eve through the night. We grieve with Enzo as Eve dies and as Denny and Zoe try to come to grips with her loss. Then, Eve’s parents try to sue Denny for custody of Zoe, endeavoring to break up their family even further, and we feel Enzo’s pure outrage. Denny spends long days at the track racing cars and teaching driving classes for money, and sleepless nights searching for ways to get Zoe back. Throughout it all, Enzo stays by his side, ever the faithful companion. I won’t spoil the end for you, but we watch Denny and Enzo’s relationship progress beautifully till the very end, a bond of love and friendship never broken.

Yes, this movie is at times trite and unrealistic. Denny and Eve are a cookie-cutter suburban white couple, somehow managing to have a nice house while Eve teaches for a living and Denny races for very little money. Furthermore, when Eve gets sick, she begins living at her parents’ house, a mansion that can accommodate her every need, and seems unconcerned about the cost of medical bills. So, yes, the movie is not very ethnically, socially, or economically diverse.

However, putting my cynicism aside, I found many ways in which the movie connects viewers from all different backgrounds. For one, the deep grief over the loss of Eve strikes a chord in the heart of anyone who has lost a loved one. Grief is real, and this movie depicts it beautifully. Furthermore, Denny’s love for Zoe and his fight to get her back is a beautiful thing to behold; there is nothing quite as beautiful as seeing a father’s true love for his daughter--it’s something we don’t see enough in our world today. Lastly, the movie focused on the ability to expect the unexpected so that when the unexpected arrives, one is prepared to deal with it (such as a race car driver being prepared when a rainstorm appears to soak the track). What a beautiful theme! While we can never be fully prepared for life’s eventualities, we can do our best to live our healthiest, happiest lives while keeping one eye to the future, preparing ourselves for what is to come.  

So, if you’re going to see The Art of Racing in the Rain this weekend, prepare to cry. The movie makes you feel grief and pain viscerally. However, be prepared for hope! This film makes you believe in the future and that maybe good things can happen even in the midst of so much wrong. And we get to see all this through the eyes of a lovable golden retriever who makes us want to go home and hug our pets as tight as we can! So go enjoy this beautiful movie this weekend!

Briana Rooke realizes the impact that media have on their audiences, particularly people in the audiences who find themselves underrepresented in society, and she seeks to analyze media in a way that lets those voices be heard. When she’s not interning at Hope for Women or scrutinizing media, Briana enjoys reading classic books like Les Miserables, drinking blueberry tea, and cuddling with her black cat, Selina. She believes that someday stories will truly save the world.