So lately, I’ve been watching movies and then reading the books. With the exception of Every Day and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I’ve found most of the time, I prefer the book to the movie. I didn’t want to review The Art of Racing in the Rain until I had seen the movie. I wanted to offer an opinion as to whether the movie did the book justice or not.
My daughter and I went to see the movie the day it came out. And while we both cried buckets and used up a whole packet of tissues (what is it about dog movies and crying????), the jury is still out on which was better. They both have positive attributes…so maybe you need to experience both to decide.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is about the life of Enzo the dog. He is adopted by a man named Denny as a puppy. The novel follows his life from puppyhood to his death…fortunately as an old dog. The story of Denny and Enzo’s lives is told from the dog’s perspective, which lends an interesting take to what would be an otherwise unremarkable and ordinary novel. It follows Denny’s life through love and heartbreak through the eyes of his most loyal (and wisest) companion.
What I Loved about The Art of Racing in the Rain (the book):
In all fairness, I listened to the audiobook. The audiobook narrator was phenomenal—I really felt Enzo’s spirit in his words. Enzo was hilarious, as one would expect a dog to be. His observations of human nature were spot on and really made you think. The racing analogies, while they could be long and tedious, really pulled the book together. I felt his hated toward Trish and Maxwell and anything that stood in the way of the family’s happiness. Including the zebra. That damn zebra. I wanted to rip it apart myself.
The book really lays it out right off the bat. You know about the death that occurs during the course of the novel (not the dog’s) and you immediately realize that there are consequences that have led to Denny’s current situation. The reader (or listener) is instantly drawn into the story wondering what happened. How did they get where they are? It makes you read on…even though you KNOW you’re going to end up in tears.
What I Liked About The Art of Racing in the Rain (the movie):
The thing the movie has going for it is Milo Ventimiglia. I can’t think of a better actor to play the part of soft-hearted and determined Denny. It doesn’t hurt that I have been a Milo fan club member since his Gilmore Girls days…way before the This is Us bandwagon fans jumped on.
The movie also sticks to the book (a huge plus in my book) up until the “crime” that has the potential to ruin Denny’s life and take custody of his daughter from him. I personally think that the “crime” in the book was far more damaging and a better plot twist than the one they replaced it with in the movie. However, considering that the movie was geared toward families, perhaps the book “crime” wasn’t the most suitable for the audience.
One of the main differences I found in the movie is that the mother in law Trish is given much more of a heart than in the book. She almost seems likable, a heartbroken pawn in a game, whereas in the book, she was plain despicable, just like her husband. In a way, she was almost Denny’s savior in the movie, as opposed to a clear adversary in the book.
I also don’t think that the movie played up on the racing angle enough. Listen, I’m no racing fan. In fact, whenever Hubby watches NASCAR, I use that time as naptime. The sound of the cars whipping around the track lulls me to sleep every time.
But the book is called The Art of Racing in the Rain.
I think the racing aspect of the book was one of its strongest points. Any dog can tell a story. But only a dog named after Ferrari could tell a story with such poignant racing metaphors that really make you think about life…from a dog’s point of view.
Still, the movie was worth the time (and the tissues). However, I would definitely recommend reading (or listening to) the book as well. I think the book touches on important aspects that you just can’t get in a two hour movie. Read the book. Go see the movie. Enjoy Enzo’s brilliance. You can’t help but fall in love with him. And Denny, and Eve, and Zoey. Don’t forget your tissues. You WILL need them.