The Art of Racing in the Rain – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Release Date: 2019
Runtime: 109 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Audio Formats: DTS- HD Master Audio 7.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 11/05/19
Director: Simon Curtis
Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Kevin Costner, Amanda Seyfried, Gary Cole, Martin Donovan, Kathy Baker, Ian Lake, Andres Joseph
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” was a 2019 dramatic film based on the novel (of the same title) written by Garth Stein.
The screenplay here was adapted by Mark Bomback, known for his writing (and co-writing) on films such as War of the Planet of the Apes (2017), Insurgent (2015), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), The Wolverine (2013), Total Recall (2012), Unstoppable (2010), and Live Free or Die Hard (2007). The film was directed by Simon Curtis, best known for his work directing TV shows and the films My Week with Marilyn (2011), Woman in Gold (2015), and Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017).
The story here is told from the perspective of a dog named “Enzo” (voiced in narration by Kevin Costner). We get introduced to his life since being a puppy when he first met his owner “Denny” (Milo Ventimiglia). Denny is a racing instructor and at times race car driver, aspiring to someday drive Formula One. He spends most of his time working and focusing on his career but he manages to meet a young lady named “Eve” (Amanda Seyfried) who ultimately moves in with him and Enzo, to start a family. They get married (as most couples do) and they’re finally joined by a baby and life seems to be really falling into place.
Denny, now married and with a daughter, is still racing whenever he gets the chance to get behind the wheel. It’s the racing that eventually brings up some differences between Eve’s father and Denny when his safety and wellbeing of his family are put into question. His career is full of risk and he could someday be involved in an accident or something. Going into things, Denny knew that and so did Eve, as did Enzo.
Life, here observed from the perspective of a dog, proves to be at times very humorous and it also can at times be very painful. It’s also a great way of really telling a story using a pet as much time as they spend with us, the owners. I won’t go into much of any further detail (to avoid dishing out spoilers) but I will say that life can sometimes seem to be falling apart just as soon as it can seem like it’s falling into place. There is some very emotionally driving material here, so be warned. It’s not just the story of the dog that’s sure to get to you emotionally but also dealing with some of the hardest points of life, the unexpected.
Movie Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, just as how it was presented during its theatrical run.
This was shot digitally in 3.4K resolution using the Arri Alexa Mini & Arri Alexa Sxt cameras and then received a 4K digital intermedia (DI), master. Ironically, this film did not receive a physical 4K release but it does, however, get a 4K digital release (with HDR) on digital services (like Apple’s iTunes and VUDU).
Here on Blu-ray Disc, in its debut, we get the film in just 1080p but it delivers one very impressive visual presentation in just HD (high def). There’s an incredible amount of detail to be found here in every scene, especially during the closeup shots of “Enzo” (the dog) or of even those of his human costars. The racing scenes look pretty cool and the cars with sponsors and their paint jobs really come across rich and vibrant in color. The color palette here is very bright and things look great. Speaking of color, the flesh tones are represented in an accurate manner and the black level is solid. This exciting visual presentation does the film justice and is worthy of a 4.5 rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio on the Blu-ray.
Oddly enough this received a Dolby Atmos mix theatrically and even more, ironically does as well digitally (on Apple’s iTunes service). Regardless, this is a great lossless 7.1 mix here, from the very start, with an excellent amount of rear channel presence and an impressive amount of bass represented via the subwoofer. Dialogue, very vital here, is delivered spot-on and effectively via the center channel from the very opening of the film up until the end. No need at all for any volume adjustments.
This actually has a bit more intense of a surround mix than I honestly was expecting from the film (being mostly a drama) but there are lots of interesting scenes, not just those involving racing. It proves to be one very impressive sound mix and it absolutely does the film justice. That said, [The Art of Racing in the Rain] in its debut to Blu-ray earns a respectable 4.5 rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, all presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, include the following:
- A Digital Code (copy) of the film is included which can be redeemed online with Movies Anywhere. This means you’ll get an HD copy of the film throughout all services like Apple’s iTunes, VUDU, and such.
- Audio Commentary by Director Simon Curtis
- “A Journey to Screen” (5:48- HD) features some on-set footage between interviews with Garth Stein (author), Don Kitch, Jr. (racing instructor), Patrick Dempsey (producer), Simon Curtis (director), Tania Landau (producer), Mark Bomback (screenwriter), and Milo Ventimiglia (Denny). Here they discuss how the story came to be a book and then how it eventually became a film.
- “Directing the Art“ (5:09 – HD) features on-set footage and focuses on discussing the filmmaker. This consists of interviews with the film’s director Simon Curtis, Tania Landau (producer), Amanda Seyfried (Eve), Mark Bomback (screenwriter), Milo Ventimiglia (Denny), Teresa Ann Miller (animal coordinator), Kathy Baker (Trish), and Martin Donovan (Maxwell).
- “Enzo Cam” (4:39 – HD) focuses on the dog (Enzo) and using his narrative and view to drive the story. Here you’ll get more on-set footage and interviews with Garth Stein (author), Mark Bomback (screenwriter), Simon Curtis (director), and Ross Emery (director of photography).
- “Behind the Wheel” (6:12 – HD) focuses on the racing side of things and it brings more on-set footage and interviews. Those interviewed here include Simon Curtis (director), Patrick Dempsey (producer), Milo Ventimiglia (Denny), Jeff Zwart (second unit director), and Brent Thomas (production designer).
- “The Dog Stays in the Picture” (6:19 – HD) focuses on the few dogs that play Enzo in the film. This brings with it more behind-the-scenes on set footage and interviews with Simon Curtis (director), Milo Ventimiglia (Denny), Garth Stein (author), Ryan Kiera Armstrong (Zoe), Teresa Ann Miller (animal coordinator), Neil Eskuri (VFX supervisor), Tania Landau (producer), Amanda Seyfried (Eve). It is worth noting that the dog type here in the film isn’t the same as that in the book, but I’ll let them explain why that choice was made.
- “Enzo’s First Ride” (5:24 – HD) focuses on the iconic scene involving Enzo riding in the vintage 1957 Ferrari with Denny. It took a lot of work to make sure they could film that safely with the dog in the car and that’s what you hear about here. This includes on-set footage and interviews with Milo Ventimiglia (Denny), Don Kitch, Jr. (racing instructor), and Jeff Zwart (second unit director).
Theatrical Trailer (2:12 – HD) has Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Overall the bonus materials here are short (at roughly 30 minutes in length) but they prove the be very interesting and worthwhile. It’s not a whole lot but it’s definitely enough to leave the fans somewhat pleased after they’ve watched the film.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.25 (out of 5)
“The Art of Racing in the Rain” proves to be a bit of an emotional tearjerker of a film, that is… depending on the viewer. Personally, I found the film moving. I could accept it for what it was and I didn’t leave expecting anything I hadn’t been delivered. The movie made me take a look back at life, my previous dogs I’ve had in my life as well as the ones I currently have. So, yes, I am a dog owner and I will admit that helped this film really connect with me.
This film gets an equally impressive video and audio presentation here on Blu-ray. Sure, it doesn’t have the Atmos found on the digital but the 7.1 lossless mix is impressive enough for me. Sure, there should have been a 4K UHD Blu-ray release to go along with this but you have the option of digitally obtaining the film in 4K with HDR. The quality here on Blu-ray is enough, in my honest opinion.
The final bit is the hardest part for me here, as I hate to do this but I can’t avoid pointing out that the bonus materials only total up to 30 minutes roughly here – not including the audio commentary. That said, the extras still manage to be both informative and entertaining and give insight to the making of this film. Overall, I say that this Blu-ray is recommended.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.25 (out of 5) for bonus materials