In 2008 author Garth Stein's third novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, was published and sat on the New York Times Bestseller list for 156 weeks. In 2009 Universal Pictures bought the rights and planned for Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy) to play the main character of Enzo but the movie never had a director attached and was never made. Then Disney acquired the rights but again the project never came to fruition. Finally in 2017 Twentieth Century Fox decided to make the novel into a movie, which was released this past summer. Now it is available for purchase on Blu-ray and Digital.
As the film opens we see Enzo the dog (voiced by Kevin Costner; Dances with Wolves) at the end of his life. He begins to reminisce about the life he has had and narrates pretty much the entire movie. The film flashes back to a time when Denny (Milo Ventimiglia; This Is Us) was a race car driver having limited success in his chosen field. One day he decides to buy a puppy and names him Enzo, after the Ferrari Car Company founder. A year later Denny Meets Eve (Amanda Seyfried; Mamma Mia!) and the two marry. Just as Denny receives an invitation to an important race in Daytona, they discover Eve is pregnant.
For the next several years the family lives an idyllic life with Eve raising their daughter and Denny traveling to various races. Unfortunately, Eve becomes more and more ill as Enzo can sense something is wrong with her. Eventually, Eve succumbs to cancer leaving Danny to raise their child. Eve's parents, however, don't think Denny is a fit parent and try to get custody. During an argument, Eve's father falls, fracturing his rib, and has Denny arrested for assaulting him. Just as Denny is about to give up hope, Eve's mother tells the truth in court and Denny is given full custody of his daughter and eventually makes amends with Eve's parents.
With a strong cast, I had hoped for a better outcome for this film. Ventimiglia is solid and Seyfried, a personal favorite of mine, does a wonderful job as the loving, supportive wife who sadly ends up terminally ill. Costner has such a distinctive voice that you can't help picture his face every time the narration plays. His rough and graveling voice gives Enzo a weary and tired incantation that fits the older dog.
The 1080p high definition video quality of the Blu-ray is rather good. Colors are vibrant giving the landscape a beautiful softness and depth while details remain sharp and clean. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 is solid as well. The racing scenes are particularly well done with the sound effects of cars whizzing by easily heard from all the surround speakers while the dialogue sits comfortably in the front channels. The combo pack offers the Blu-ray disc, Digital HD code, and eight extras. They include: A Journey to Screen, Directing the Art, Enzo Cam, Behind the Wheel, The Dog Stays in the Picture, Enzo's First Ride, Audio Commentary by Director Simon Curtis and the theatrical trailer.
The concept of the novel is interesting enough and the screenplay is a decent adaptation but the story is a mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. The whole thing is rather predictable, contrite and has an obvious "by the numbers" formula. It is a tear-jerker and a five tissue minimum but even with that the viewer never really feels invested in these characters. Yes, the dog is cute, but almost two hours of watching it gets to be a bit of overkill.
Dog lovers will enjoy the movie but it isn't for everyone.