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Racing Stripes (2005)

His stripes made him an outcast. His heart made him a hero.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U

Normally, when someone tells you they’ve got something that “fell off the back of a lorry”, you expect it to be a case of watches with the numbers going the wrong way round, or perhaps a VHS cassette player with a slot that’s a couple of millimetres too small. In ‘Racing Stripes’, it’s something a bit more unusual: a baby zebra, left behind by a rickety old circus wagon.

Stripes, as he becomes known (as you can imagine, the name didn’t take a great deal of time to think up), is found by racehorse-trainer-turned-farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood), and instantly becomes the favoured pet of daughter Channing (Hayden Panettiere). Growing up within spitting distance of the local racetrack, it’s no surprise to find good ol’ Stripey soon harbouring ambitions of winning the derby – but the message from the other farmyard critters is unanimous: your legs are too short and your head’s too big (which, come to think of it, makes Frankie Muniz an inspired choice for the voice of our hero – nobody knows the pressures of having a giant cranium and tiny little legs like our Frankie).

Of course, in real life the zebra is a viscous beast which, given half a chance, would happily thrash you in the face with a well-placed hoof – but, for the purposes of ‘Racing Stripes’, it’s a fluffy, cutesy little snugglekins of an animal, more likely to run off and cry after hearing one of the other creatures of the Savannah say a bad word. And, surprisingly, it works quite well. Some of the humour is a little bottom-feeding in nature, and the two perma-quipping horseflies (voiced by David Spade and Steve Harvey) are never anything other than a source of irritation (if you don’t believe me, just go to the movie’s official site, turn up your speakers, and see how long you can stand it). But this is a nice, charming little film, which should be upbeat and entertaining enough to hold the attention of kids and adults alike.

For UK cinema-goers, another reason to catch the flick is that it’s the official movie of this year’s Red Nose Day, with a cut of every ticket going to Comic Relief – which makes going to see it a no-lose situation. Even if you don’t like it, you’ll be able to feel good about all the work you’ve just done for charidee.

It's Got: Dustin Hoffman talking a load of pony.

It Needs: To take the lead of ‘Alien vs Predator’ and provide us with the ultimate horsey movie showdown: ‘Stripes vs Seabiscuit vs Hidalgo’.


Give this zebra tale a go – it’s for a good cause, and not just because it’ll shut the kids up for an hour and a half.