The Art of Racing in the Rain book spoilers ahead. Like pretty much every story involving a dog, The Art of Racing in the Rain begs an unfortunate question, but it's one that some viewers will want to know the answer to before deciding whether to see the upcoming film. So, if you want to know if the dog dies in The Art of Racing in the Rain book that the movie is adapted from, read on. You may want to either prepare yourself or choose to avoid the movie altogether.
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, is a novel told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo, who's voiced by Kevin Costner in the movie. Enzo is trying to live his life in a way that means he will be reincarnated as a human when he dies. Any movie or book with a dog bring up the question, but with a plot like this, it's impossible not to think about it. The concept itself has to do with life and death.
As Stein explains on his website, he was inspired after watching a National Geographic show about how the life cycle of dogs is thought about in Mongolia. In the culture, there's a belief that dogs can be reborn as human and vice versa, according to the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project. Stein's book is based around the idea that the dog must be prepared in order to come back human.
In addition to Enzo, the 2008 bestseller is also about his owner, a race car driver named Denny (Milo Ventimiglia in the film), and Denny's wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried). The book begins with Enzo trying to convince Denny that it is time for him to say goodbye, as explained in the book summary on LitCharts. This sounds rough.
The story is then told through a flashback, starting 10 years earlier when Denny got Enzo as a puppy. A lot of very spoiler-y stuff happens in their lives that will go unmentioned here in case you only want to know about the dog's fate. As you would probably expect at this point, in the end, yes, Enzo dies, and it's in Denny's arms. But then, years later, at one of Denny's races, a young boy comes up to Denny and says he's a fan. His name? Enzo.
Whether people who are sensitive to sad plots involving dogs will want to see this movie depends on what aspect of that bothers them the most. It's not a traumatic death, so viewers don't have to worry about that. Also, Enzo does live on, so the story is meant to feel hopeful and heartwarming.
That said, the story is still emotional. The idea of a dog being focused on his own death is no doubt going to be a lot to handle for some people. And on top of that, this book sounds like a bummer for other reasons, too; we've only touched on the parts involving the dog.
The Art of Racing in the Rain hits theaters Aug. 9, so if you decide to take the plunge, Ventimiglia, Seyfried, and a dog voiced by Costner will be there waiting for you. Just be sure to bring your own tissues and sit in an aisle seat should things get really tough.