The Art of Racing in the Rain parents guide

The Art of Racing in the Rain Parent Guide

Gives fans of the doggy movie genre heartwarming drama with minimal content concerns.

Overall B+

Enzo Swift was born to be a great racecar driver, but with one small problem: Enzo is a dog. His owner, Denny, on the other hand, is a talented NASCAR driver, and Enzo will have to help him and his family through some difficult times and hard-fought races.

Release date August 9, 2019

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity A-
Substance Use C+

Why is The Art of Racing in the Rain rated PG? The MPAA rated The Art of Racing in the Rain PG for thematic material.

Run Time: 109 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The road of life is never straight. There are curves, twists, and detours. And there’s unexpected weather that can slow you down and make the road slick and dangerous. But, as Enzo the dog tells audiences, “If the driver has the courage to create his own conditions, then the rain is simply rain.”

Enzo, perfectly voiced with Kevin Costner’s warm, gravelly tones, is a dog who wants to be human. He believes that, if he learns everything he needs to in his life, he can be reincarnated as a man. Luckily for him, he’s adopted by Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), a racecar driver who names him after Enzo Ferrari, founder of the famous Ferrari company. The two bond immediately, with a shared love for watching races on TV. In fact, Enzo watches lots of television and credits it for teaching him about people. His love of racing and study of humans leads Enzo to use racing metaphors to explain his life and that of the people around him.

The bond between Enzo and Denny is briefly tested when Denny marries Eve (played with big-eyed, waif-like fragility by Amanda Seyfried). But soon Enzo connects with Eve and eventually baby Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). And then the road of life takes a sharp curve and Enzo throws himself into helping Denny steer the course. As Enzo tells the audience, “A true champion can accomplish things a normal person would consider impossible.”

Viewers will either love Enzo’s driving metaphors or will find them irritating. But they will be united in their appreciation of a film with virtually no content issues. One minor swear word, no explicit sexual content, minor violence integral to the plot, and very occasional social drinking is all there is. In fact, the screenplay actually downgraded the sexual content in the original novel and changed a plot element to make the film more family friendly. Parents looking for clean family entertainment can comfortably take older kids or grandma to see The Art of Racing in the Rain without worrying about uncomfortable moments. Small children, however, will likely find parts of the film disturbing: there are car accidents, deaths, and a hallucination experienced by a dog. There is also a moment of revenge diarrhea, planned by Enzo, which is amusing, but which parents might not want their younger kids watching.

This production goes beyond avoiding negative content and steers hard into positive messages. This is a film that unabashedly celebrates marriage, parenting, and families. It promotes themes of loyalty, devotion, sacrifice, persistence, hard work, and forgiveness. Given all of these positives, it feels churlish to say that I didn’t love the movie. (I didn’t hate it either.) It’s clean. And harmless. And, sadly, predictable. If you’ve seen any of the dog movies that have filled theaters over the past few years, you are familiar with the formula. If you love the dog movie genre, you’ll love The Art of Racing in the Rain. If you don’t love the genre, you might want to brake and think twice before you race off to buy tickets.

Directed by Simon Curtis. Starring Kevin Costner, Amanda Seyfried, and Milo Ventimiglia.. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release August 9, 2019. Updated

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The Art of Racing in the Rain
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Art of Racing in the Rain rated PG? The Art of Racing in the Rain is rated PG by the MPAA for thematic material.

Violence: A man pushes another man who pushes him back, knocking him over and causing a broken rib. A dog hallucinates a scene where a stuffed toy rips the stuffing out of another toy and then rips out his own. A roomful of torn up stuffed toys is later seen. A dog gets hit by a car.
Sexual Content:   A man and woman kiss several times, while dating and after their marriage. They are seen briefly in bed prior to their marriage; both are clothed. A dog refers to a woman’s “plump buttocks”. There is a non-graphic scene of a woman in labor.
Profanity:   One mild expletive is used.
Alcohol / Drug Use:   Major characters are shown drinking alcohol in social situations; no one over-imbibes.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain Parents' Guide

Enzo quotes lots of maxims about racecar driving and applies them to life. Did any of them strike a chord with you?

Loved this movie? Try these books…

This film is based on Garth Stein’s novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain. For more of Garth Stein’s writing, be sure to check out A Sudden Light. This book about family secrets and redemption is lyrically written and spellbinding.

Another dog tale that is sure to tug at your heartstrings revolves around the adoption of a dog who was used as bait for fighting dogs. Terribly disfigured, Oogy is adopted by Larry Levin’s family. Read their story in Oogy.

If you’ve ever wondered what dogs think, you will want to read Inside of a Dog. Written by cognitive scientist, Alexandra Horowitz, this non-fiction book explores the world from a canine perspective. A kids’ version is also available.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Feel good dog movies are a Hollywood staple. We recommend Dog Days for its adorable canines and incredibly nice people.

A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey celebrate the powerful bond between a boy and a man and a girl and their dog(s).

In A Dog of Flanders, a boy and his grandfather adopt a dog – a real sacrifice since they are struggling to feed themselves in 19th century Belgium. A heartwarming film for viewers of all ages.