His stripes made him an outcast. His heart made him a hero.
Frederik Du Chau
Running Time: 94 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U
Country: United States, South Africa
Normally, when someone tells you theyve 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 thats a couple of millimetres too small. In Racing Stripes, its 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 didnt 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, its 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 heads 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, its 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 dont believe me, just go to the movies 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 its the official movie of this years 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 dont like it, youll be able to feel good about all the work youve 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.
Alternatives:Babe, Babe: Pig in the City
Give this zebra tale a go its for a good cause, and not just because itll shut the kids up for an hour and a half.