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  • U
  • Adventure, Comedy
  • 2005
  • 102 mins

Racing Stripes

Racing Stripes

Synopsis

Live action, CG-enhanced family film about a zebra with horse-racing aspirations. Features the voices of Frankie Muniz, Dustin Hoffman and Whoopi Goldberg

About

"Step right up if you're horse enough," goes one line in this American/South African production, summing up the challenge for lead character Stripes (voiced by Muniz). A zebra in a world where horses are the norm, he desperately needs to be accepted, and what better way than to excel at racing, a sport normally open only to horses?

Lucky, then, that abandoned circus zebra Stripes is discovered by a farmer who lives next to a racetrack and used to train horses until his wife had a fatal riding accident. It's also lucky that he has a pretty teenage daughter desperate to ride again despite the fears of her grieving father, and farmyard animals proficient in the art of moral support. Most helpful are a kindly horse (voiced by Hoffman) and a sage goat (voiced by Goldberg), given to bleating such wisdoms as "relationships are a bit like racing - when you're doing it for love, you've already won".

Less fortunate is this film's weak grasp on both the comedic and dramatic potential of its set-up (itself markedly derivative from Babe). Farmyard banter is poorly timed and predictable, placing the onus of entertainment on the burps, pratfalls and explosions aimed at younger audience members. There's the odd film reference - the phrase "chicken run" is worked into the dialogue - but the joke is based on simple recognition rather than well-crafted layers of humour.

Technically, the CG manipulates the mouths and limbs of live action animals to reasonably successful effect. But this neglects to develop the bond between humans and animals (especially that between farmer's daughter Channing and Stripes), focusing on each group in turn without communicating the relationship that should be crucial to this film's emotional impact.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Bruce Greenwood, Mandy Moore, Frankie Muniz, Hayden Panettiere, David Spade, Joe Pantoliano, Whoopi Goldberg, M Emmet Walsh, Joshua Jackson, Dustin Hoffman
  • Director: Frederik Du Chau
  • Screen Writer: Kirk DeMicco, Steven P Wenger, David Schmidt, Frederik Du Chau, David Eggby
  • Producer: Edward L McDonnell, Lloyd Phillips, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A Kosove
  • Composer: Mark Isham

In a nutshell

Kids may enjoy the cute animals and the mild scatological humour, but with its inferior dialogue, characterisation and plot development this doesn't have the crossover potential that made Babe a hit.

by Anna Smith

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