RACING STRIPES (Frederik Du Chau, 2005)
A zebra that thinks he’s a horse wants to prove his worth on the track in RACING STRIPES. Frankie Muniz voices Stripes, a zebra growing up on a farm near Turfway Park. Stripes believes he can compete with the thoroughbreds and wants his teenage caretaker to ride him across the finish line. Not only must Stripes convince her dad that it’s safe, but he must also get a Dustin Hoffman-voiced Shetland pony to train him for the race.
RACING STRIPES follows a story arc similar to BABE, but it possesses none of the warmth, humor, or originality of that film. The barnyard critters have no personality beyond their voice stuntcasting. Just like some recent animated films, it relies too much on celebrity voices to do the heavy lifting of character development. It’s inevitable that a kids’ film set on a farm will have its share of poop jokes, but RACING STRIPES doesn’t know when enough is enough. More out of place, especially considering the audience, is the Joe Pantoliano-voiced pelican named Goose who drops in to contribute well tread GODFATHER and SCARFACE jokes. RACING STRIPES also conforms to the template for sports movies with a dark horse hero, leaving one to wonder if there isn’t anything in it that hasn’t been recycled from countless better films. Rather than a thrilling race to the finish, the film is a dull slog to the end.
(Review first aired on the January 18, 2005 NOW PLAYING)