Children's movie teaches important lessons
Suffice it to say that "Racing Stripes" is ridiculously cute. Sure, it's no action thriller, but it's a kiddie flick with its heart in the right place. Essentially, the moral is that anyone can do anything, regardless of circumstance. Take Stripes, for example: he's a zebra-turned-racehorse.
The story begins when Stripes (voiced by Frankie Muniz) is accidentally abandoned by a traveling circus in Kentucky. Luckily for him, though, former horse trainer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) brings Stripes home to the Walsh family farm, much to the excitement of Nolan's daughter, Channing (Hayden Panettiere). Stripes is brought up to think he's a racehorse, and eventually, Channing decides to try jockeying him. But, because Channing's mother died in a horse-racing accident several years prior, Nolan is wary of letting his daughter race, and Channing must convince him otherwise. Meanwhile, Stripes must prove to the thoroughbreds in the stable and to himself that he is a true racehorse at heart. Eventually, both Channing and Stripes manage to overcome their individual struggles and secure their spot as a jockey and horse team in the prestigious Kentucky Open.
Okay, so no one would ever race a zebra professionally. But the key thing to remember, according to the movie, is that anything is possible with the right attitude. Another great point the movie drives home is that physical differences have no impact on your spirit. Stripes is constantly ridiculed by thoroughbred horses because he's, well, a zebra. But he's no less talented than a racehorse, and it takes the world's best barnyard pals to make him realize that. Really, this movie is about the roles of its supporting characters. Stripes' confidante and coach, a Shetland pony named Tucker (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), is Stripes' greatest ally. Tucker's sidekick, a goat named Franny (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), is a motherly figure to Stripes and gives him the final push that sends him racing toward his dreams. Also thrown in are two goofy flies, Buzz and Scuzz (voiced by Steve Harvey and David Spade, respectively) with their own brand of "poo" jokes. Add a mobster pelican named Goose (Joe Pantoliano), and "Racing Stripes" is a menagerie of silly and loveable misfits.
Unfortunately for Panattiere and Greenwood, humans are secondary characters in "Racing Stripes." Greenwood has a basic yet influential role that he fills appropriately, and Panattiere has a slightly larger role and plays an impassioned would-be jockey with almost moving conviction.
A neat feature that adds to believability of "Racing Stripes" is its most basic special effect: the animals' mouths move in a lifelike manner when they speak, which is interesting, as children's movies don't often bother with such details.
"Racing Stripes" is a fun film, but may not appeal to all ages. It's primarily a children's movie, and unlike most other films targeted at kids, it doesn't have interspersed mature innuendos that would go over children's heads to entertain parents or older siblings. The silliness of the characters and the movie's messages first, that looks don't dictate character, and second, that the right attitude makes anything possible are just plain wholesome fun.
"Racing Stripes" (102 minutes) is rated PG for mild language and crude humor. It is playing everywhere.
Anuja Shah. Anuja "Otto" Shah, a Junior in the CAP, -is thoroughly excited to be part of SCO, -enjoys the word "fiasco", -aspires to be monstrously cool, -remains prepared to settle for being vaguely nifty, and -probably owes you money, but has fled the country. More »