1 Racing Stripes (2005) …review and/or viewer comments • Christian Spotlight on the Movies • ChristianAnswers.Net

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Movie Review

RACING STRIPES

MPAA Rating: PG for mild crude humor and some language

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Comedy, Drama
Length:
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
2005
Featuring: Hayden Panettiere, Bruce Greenwood, Wendie Malick, Frankie Muniz, Mandy Moore
Director: Frederik Du Chau
Producer: Lloyd Phillips, Edward McDonnell, Andrew Kosove, Broderick Johnson
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
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Copyright, Warner Brothers
Copyright, Warner Brothers
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His stripes made him an outcast. His heart made him a hero.

The delightful and humorous movie “Racing Stripes” isn’t horsing around when it comes to including meaningful and pertinent themes in the midst of its comedy and playfulness. The positive messages include following your dreams no matter what and learning to be yourself despite what others may think about you. It is a story geared for kids and revolves around a racing as its main event—and also, perhaps, a metaphor for yet another issue of relationships between different “races.”

A young girl, Channing Walsh (Hayden Panettiere), finds a stray zebra one night on her farm and convinces her dad (Bruce Greenwood) to let her keep it. Right away, two stories begin involving Channing’s dreams and desires, as well as the struggles of the zebra, “Stripes” (voice by Frankie Muniz). It is here that we discover that when people are not around, the animals (with the help of CGI mouths and lips) actually talk to each other, providing understanding into their thoughts and emotions. The similar hopes and dreams of both Channing and Stripes run parallel throughout this story until each helps the other to find purpose and fulfillment.

The character of Woodzie is played by a well known actor, M. Emmet Walsh, but most of the big name stars perform as the voices for the various animals. Stripes’ love interest is a horse named Sandy (Mandy Moore), and his other friends include Franny the Goat (Whoopi Goldberg), Tucker the Pony (Dustin Hoffman), a pelican named Goose (Joe Pantoliano) and Scuzz the Fly (David Spade). This pool of actors lends their voices to animate these animals (and insects), and really bring a new life to them. And since these seasoned actors must know very well that animals and babies usually upstage actors, it seems they have decided to go one step ahead.

Australia has rated this movie “G”, but in other countries, such as in the U.S., it has been rated PG. It is a very clean movie, but there are a few bathroom humor type jokes made by Scuzz the Fly. There is no foul language, however. In one scene, Channing is angry with Clara Dalrymple (Wendie Malick) and stops short of calling her a bad name, but you may insinuate what she wanted to call her. There are some more intense moments when Stripes is challenged or roughed up by the cocky, prideful horses next door, but it isn’t anything too scary. The overall drama is for younger kids, but might not be geared for really young kids under the age of three.

Because of Stripes’ goal to race with horses, Tucker the Pony reaches out and coaches him on how to do it. One of their interactions provides an interesting analogy to following Christ. One of the biggest challenges Stripes faces is how to initially get out of the starting gate for a race. Tucker tells him, “Just keep running. Let the chief worry about the gate. He knows what He is doing.” Similarly with our own lives, the best thing we can do is just keep running the race God has given each of us and trust that He is in control. He knows what is best for us.

This movie is a lot of fun and did not feel dumbed down because it is something for kids. There are good lessons exemplified throughout—one involving Channing disobeying her father, too. He ends up being the one to change, but it does seem to show that there are some consequences to her actions. Still, this movie is very inspirational and can be a fun way to enjoy a Saturday afternoon with the family.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “In the middle of a raging thunderstorm, a traveling circus accidentally leaves behind some very precious cargo—a baby zebra (voiced by FRANKIE MUNIZ). The gangly little foal is rescued by horse farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood), who takes him home to his young daughter Channing (Hayden Panettiere). Once a champion thoroughbred trainer, Walsh has given up horse training for a quiet life with Channing on their modest Kentucky farm.

The little zebra, or “Stripes,” as Channing calls him, is soon introduced to the farm’s misfit troupe of barnyard residents, led by a cranky Shetland Pony named Tucker (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) and Franny (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), a wise old goat who keeps the family in line. The group is joined by Goose (voiced by JOE PANTOLIANO), a deranged big-city pelican who’s hiding out in the sticks until the heat dies down in Jersey. The un-aptly named bloodhound Lightening (SNOOP DOGG) keeps a lazy eye on goings-on at the farm—in between naps.

The Walsh farm borders the Turfway Racetrack, where highly skilled thoroughbreds compete for horse racing’s top honor, the ultra-prestigious Kentucky Crown. From the first moment Stripes lays eyes on the track, he’s hooked—he knows that if he could just get the chance, he could leave all those other horses in the dust. What he doesn’t know is.he’s not exactly a horse. But with characteristic zeal, he devotes himself to training for the big time, with a little help from Tucker, who has coached a host of champion racehorses in the past.

Channing has a similar ambition—she longs to train as a jockey, but her protective father refuses to let her compete in the potentially dangerous sport. But Walsh can’t ignore her enthusiasm (or her stubbornness) for long, and she convinces him to come out of retirement to train her and Stripes for the Kentucky Crown.

The neighboring Estate is run by the ruthless queen of the Kentucky racing circuit, the incredibly wealthy and exceptionally coldhearted Clara Dalrymple (WENDIE MALICK). Stripes constantly battles the ridicule of the Estate’s thoroughbreds-in-training, led by spoiled bully Sir Trenton’s Pride (voiced by JOSHUA JACKSON), who taunts him relentlessly about his lack of breeding and.unusual appearance. But the Estate is home to some kinder residents, particularly Sandy (voiced by MANDY MOORE), a beautiful mare whose admiration and affection for Stripes further enrages his rival.

Stripes makes some friends down at the track as well, most notably the manic horsefly duo Buzz (STEVE HARVEY) and Scuzz (DAVID SPADE), whose love of song and dance is eclipsed only by their love of hot dogs and horse poop.

As he thrusts himself into a world of elite athletes, intense competition and enormous stakes, Stripes must prove he’s fast enough and tough enough to run with the big horses if he wants to land in the winner’s circle at the legendary Kentucky Crown. Some champions are born, not bred!”

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—All in all I thought this movie was pretty good. It was a little disjointed when crossing between the real people and the talking animals. I think I would have preferred it if the animals sounded less like humans.

I thought I heard Stripes say d*** when he ran into the tree and several other times I felt the language was stronger than what I sould consider appropriate for children. I am sure much of the silly humor and even some of the conversations would go right by young children and older children would probably be embarrassed to go see this movie.

But in the end I liked the movie. Even though Channing disobeyed her father (as mentioned above), his fears kept them both bound up. He wasn’t working and she wasn’t able to follow her dreams because of his fear. Someone had to shake him loose.

The lesson from this movie is that no matter what gets in the way, if you believe in yourself and give it all you’ve got, you might actually fulfill your dreams, but it takes hard work and determination to overcome the obstacles. That’s not a bad lesson for people to learn.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
—Polly, age 50
Positive—I loved this movie! it’s one of the few I would take a child or developmentally delayed person to. The was some questionable language… (there was a spot for example, where one of the horses is being a nuisance and he’s told to stop being such “a horse’s …” ahem. rear-end. The movie had a fair bit or bathroom-type humour and a lot of sarcasm, but even that was pretty clean as that type of humour goes. It’s definitely a movie I would buy when it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3½
—Aimie, age 28
Negative—“Delightful and humorous” this movie is not! I was surprised that the reviewer didn’t comment on the negative tone of the movie. Almost every animal character as well as many of the humans are cruel to each other. They can’t speak to anyone else without an insult or sarcastic comment. I lost track of the number of times the words “stupid” and “idiot” were used, which I find more offensive than many curse words. Even the “nice” animals were so harsh with each other. And I didn’t hear many laughs in the theater. Almost all the “humor” in the movie was either negative or crude. How many times can a bird poop on someone and still get laughs?

The relationship between the girl and her father was touching, although the girl blatantly disobeys her father several times and still gets her own way in the end. There was nothing original in this film. The plot was dull and predictable, and the acting was over the top. And, I’m sorry, but I never could believe that a little zebra could outrun race horses that were twice its size! My kids, ages 8, almost 5, and 3, were disappointed, and asked me after the movie if we could see the other zebra movie (Madagascar). Don’t waste your money—instead see The Incredibles again.
My Ratings: Average/1½
—Shelly, age 32
Positive—Not too many movies you can take a small child and be somewhat entertained as well. Lots of love and forgiveness featured. The potty humor was a bit overdone as if it was inserted to attract pre teens, but overall you leave with a good feeling about how we all interact.
My Ratings: Good/3
—Ron Gilbert, age 53
Neutral—I viewed Racing Stripes at a discount theater, and while it was better than I expected I’m glad I didn’t cough up eight dollars to see it. It’s a predictable cross between Babe and Seabiscuit, and anyone over the age of six must suspend disbelief as soon as the movie starts. Not only does the little zebra outrun champion thoroughbreds, but he even does it after getting kicked senseless by a band of horses!

There is a small amount of objectionable content, including animal violence, potty humor, and a completely unnecessary “a**.” I certainly don’t want my five year-old brother repeating that!

The jokes are hit-or-miss, and on the whole they should have been a lot funnier. It felt like the writers were trying really hard (perhaps too hard?) to come up witty lines—and failing.

Still, the relationship between the father and daughter was sweet and charming, and the message of acceptance, friendship and perseverance was good. Overall, it’s a tolerable movie for adults to watch (I actually stayed awake even though I only got 5 hours of sleep the previous night). It’s entertaining enough. My five year-old brother particularly liked the singing, rapping flies. However, it should be noted that as we were walking out of the theater he quipped, “Can we do something fun now?”
My Ratings: Better than Average/2½
—Melissa E., age 23

Comments from young people
Positive—My dad and I went to see this movie because we thought, from the previews, that it looked very funny—and we were not disappointed. We were rolling in our seats practically the entire time, although you probably need to see other movies like “Field of Dreams,” etc., to get some of the funny things they say. The only objectionable material I could think of would be when the animals say stuff like idiot and shutup to each other, but my dad and I weren’t really paying any attention to that because we were so busy laughing. I would definitely rank this a 10 on a scale from 1 to 10.
My Ratings: Good/4
—Kurt, age 13
Positive—…a good film overall. It is somewhat questionable as to whether or not the film should have been rated as harshly as PG. There is no language whatsoever. The zebra, Stripes, says “dang,” and one of the animals calls another a “horse’s-” but gets cut off (or just doesn’t finish it), and it might be possible they weren’t going to finish swearing either (we don’t know). The movie is funny and the CGI with the animals’ mouths makes them fit in seamlessly. The film, like the review states, also has some Christian themes to it too, like the consequences for our actions and the metaphor (maybe a coincidence, maybe not) of our living a Christian life and letting God take of us. Recommended for the whole family, even the older kids should enjoy it.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Chris Sharp, age 14
Positive—This film is good. Stripes (voiced by Frankie Muniz)is the zebra who grows up thinking he is a racehorse. He is helped by some animals on a farm and a teenage girl called Channing. Her dad gave stripes to her. There are fun characters like Goose a pelican who thinks he’s a gangsta and two flies who think they are funnier than anything. This film is abit Predictable good guy wins against all odds but it has a great cast of characters and is for a good cause. (Official Red 15 day film)
My Ratings: Good/3½
—Melanie Kegs
Positive—This is a very sweet movie that mainly focuses on how it doesn’t matter what you look like or your size, its your heart that matters. This movie teaches young children, and also elderly people not to give up on something you believe in.
My Ratings: Good/5
—Johannah, age 11
Neutral—I thought that this movie was sooooo boring. I mean yeah, it had a okay point to it; I just thought that it was boring, but you might like it, I don’t know. It wasn’t offensive or anything…
My Ratings: Average/2
—Alayna, age 13
Negative—…if I would have had the choice, I would have definitely seen something else! I saw this movie as a mandatory assignment for school, and I can honestly say I didn’t expect much from this movie, didn’t get much out of it. They cast Jeff Foxworthy’s voice talent in the movie, yet he’s nowhere near as funny as he usually is. Channing gets her way by rebelling against the dad, and the plot line was cliché—going up against the odds and winning, not to mention throwing in a needless love interest for the main character (Stripes the zebra, nobody even realizes what kind of animal he is until about three fourths of the way thru) and bitter sabotage by the opposition—if you’ve watched a bunch of movies you’ll have seen this ALL before. Not really worth it.
My Ratings: Better than Average/2
—Clay Waters, age 15
Positive—“Racing Stripes” is one of my favorite movies! I love it. It is funny, and it doesn’t say the freaking a-word… It’s so cute; I’m watching right now.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lacie, age 13 (USA)
Movie Critics
…cute, family-friendly film…
—Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…‘Racing Stripes’ hits trifecta of cute, crude and contrived… Comic relief—and assorted poop and flatulence jokes—comes right on cue from a pelican and a pair of horse flies named Buzz and Scuzz.
—Evan Henerson, L.A. Daily News
…All the animals in ‘Racing Stripes’ speak, offering corny punch lines and Borscht Belt gags through the voices of such actors as Whoopi Goldberg and Dustin Hoffman. It’s a bit creaky, but it’s not unenjoyable…
—Randy Cordova, The Arizona Republic
…‘Babe’ meets ‘National Velvet’—to the detriment of both those fine family films… should play nicely to youngsters with the cutoff for enjoyment extending no further than midteens…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter