For Garth Stein, seeing The Art of Racing in the Rain, come to life was “really, really weird.” If you think about it, how could it be any other way? Writing a book is, in many ways, like having a kid. You put so much of yourself into your words, and then one day it’s out in the world, and people pick it up, rate it, have opinions about it.
But also, “really, really fun,” Stein clarified. Again, not so surprising either. It’s a double-edged sword, as it were. That is your creation, and as Stein told a story about the initial screening for The Art of Racing in the Rain, and how hearing people laugh made him want to go “those are my words!” to anyone who would listen, there was also the awareness that they could have gotten it wrong.
Thankfully, talking to Garth Stein, as we had a chance to do before the Blu-Ray and DVD release of The Art of Racing in the Rain, the kind of heart-warming movie the holiday season is all about, even if it’s not actually a holiday movie, you can tell he really, really doesn’t think they did.
And not just in the he wouldn’t have told us if he did, way, I promise.
In fact, he was quick to praise “the balance of the movie,” especially when it came to things like “knowing how much racing to show so that racing fans would be interested,” and how to “not make it all about racing,” so that people who didn’t care/understood the sport wouldn’t be turned-off.
Of course, this is a balance Stein also struggled to maintain in the book, and one that, as someone who has never really gotten racing (it’s all about the car, isn’t it?), but that absolutely loved his book, we’ll say he mostly succeeded at.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is, of course, not a 100% faithful adaptation. No adaptations can be, but it’s especially difficult to adapt a book told from the POV of a dog – Enzo. Some things he can’t see, and you still gotta tell those stories, right? But Stein wasn’t the kind of writer dead-set on his vision coming to life exactly as he imagined it, or at least, he learned very quickly to accept that there’s no way it could. Instead, he was more worried about the message of the movie.
Or, as he told me: “the heart of the movie is in the right place,” and that’s really the most important thing.
As someone who’s complained her fair share about some adaptations, I will wholeheartedly agree with this.
Stein recounted Milo Ventimiglia, who stars in the movie as race-car driver Denny Swift, responding to questions about how much he’d learned about racing during filming of the movie with the notion that “it wasn’t about learning how to be a racer but a good father, a good friend, a good person.”
“He gets it,” Stein sentenced. Because, in the end, the message of the movie isn’t about car racing, or even about how amazing dogs are, but about “living a good life,” and what that means.
Now, doesn’t that sound like a movie you want to bring home and re-watch?
To me, it also meant I had to ask about Stein’s next projects, because hearing him speak about this movie, about these characters, let me wanting to experience more. And I’ve got good news on that front, because Stein is releasing a graphic novel: The Cloven, out next summer, as well as a traditional novel, which still doesn’t have a publication date, but that deals with two older women who discover that – even when you get to that point where it seems like the end is near – there’s still so much more to live.
Yeah, give them to me now. In the meantime, though, I guess I can settle for re-watching The Art of Racing in the Rain. How about you?
Information about the Release:
The Art of Racing in the Rain is available now on Digital and on Blu-ray and DVD November 5.
Based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAINis a heart-warmingtale narrated by a witty and philosophical dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). Through his unique insight into the human condition, Enzo helps his owners —race car driver Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), his wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried) and daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) —navigate life with a refreshing perspective on friendship, family and unconditional love.
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital Special Features:
○A Journey to Screen
○Directing the Art
○Behind the Wheel
○The Dog Stays in the Picture
○Enzo’s First Ride
- Audio Commentary by Director Simon Curtis