Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
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.