STUDIO: Warner Brothers
MSRP: $27.95 RATED: PG
RUNNING TIME: 102 Minutes
• Commentary
• Alternate Ending
• Barnyard Outtakes
• “How To Make Animals Talk” featurette
• Acting Class with Animals
• Deleted Scenes
• Flying Fiasco Challenge
• Comic Book
• Music of featurette

There is a trend lately for a movie to be considered a “family film” it has to be stupid. I think it started somewhere around Baby’s Day Out. Maybe it was before, I don’t know. But, it seems that every “family film” (with a few exceptions like Spy Kids) is incredibly dumb, filled with lifeless jokes and inept characters. Were family films of yesteryear this bad and I not notice because I was in the target demographic? Or are studios dumbing down even the dumbest of plots for the masses? I ask because I have just seen Racing Stripes.

Peter Jackson is going really low tech with King Kong.

The Flick

For those curious – yes, Racing Stripes is rather dumb. It never tries to be anything but dumb. But, is dumb entertaining? At least, is dumb entertaining this time?

For the most part… no. Not for someone above 10 (age or IQ) at any rate.

Racing Stripes is a movie about a circus zebra (voiced by Frankie Muniz) who is left on the side of the road one rainy night. Nice guy Nolan (Bruce Greenwood) finds the zebra and brings it back to his farm. There his daughter (Hayden Panettiere) names the zebra Stripes (because Spot didn’t fit… argh) and they raise it amongst the other talking animals (voiced by a bevy of talent including Dustin Hoffman, Michael Clark Duncan, Whoppi Goldberg, Snoop Dog, Joe Pantoliano, Steve Harvey, David Spade, Mandy Moore, Joshua Jackson and Jeff Foxworthy).

AFLAC is changing their marketing image. Duck will soon be voiced by Cedric the Entertainer.

The big gimmick is that Stripes thinks he’s a race horse. He wants to go out on the track and show the other horses what we can do. He chases the postman and dreams of winning the Kentucky Open. Naturally the horses make fun of him.

For the most part the movie really drags – especially in the middle. We are given the same animal jokes from every movie from Chicken Run to Milo and Otis. You’ve seen one talking animal movie you’ve seen them all. The movie seems really stuck in Act 2 for a looooooooong time. Even kids will begin to get fidgety, wanting the movie to move on.

Florida man wins $2 bet at greyhound track. Dies of excitement.

Finally Stripes is given a shot at his dream and he makes the Open. Then typical barnyard jokes transition to your basic underdog story (complete with Rock IV subtext of Stripes using “low tech” training methods and the race horses using modern technology to train).

The movie does pick up here. Unfortunately, we now just want it to end. Get to the race already. We don’t need to see an extended training montage and plot filler with the love-interest horse. We get it anyway.

The Botswana Godfather sends a warning to the rival family.

I’m sure kids would love it. Who doesn’t love their first talking animal movie (unless it was Garfield)? Anyone else, however, will be bored pretty quick by the movie.

Unless you like to sit back and listen to celebrity voices. This movie has a pack of voices in it. The most fun you could have during this is to ignore the movie completely and just guess who is doing which voices. They all put in great performances and for the most part seem to blend well with their animals/insects (David Spade as a shit-eating fly is particularly funny and Joe Pantoliano is spot on as the Goodfeather reject “Goose”).

Farmer John has visions of a Professional Go-Kart League. If you build it, they will come.

The only voice that doesn’t seem to fit is Whoopi Goldberg as the goat. For some reason her voice doesn’t match the animal very well. Every time the goat speaks it seems like there is a Whoopi voice over trying to narrate the story or something. It just doesn’t flow.

Ultimately it is a matter of personal opinion. If a talking animal movie about a zebra wanting to be a race horse sounds stupid – you’re right. It is, and so is the movie. However, if your name is Old MacDonald and barnyard antics are your particular bag of oats, enjoy.

3.75 out of 10

Animal sex fetishes.

The Look

The film looks like a cross between a made-for-TV movie and an actual film. At times it looks really good and at others… wow can it look bad. For instance, most of the talking animal CG looks really good. But any part dealing with the two flies looks really bad.

It’s not just the CG thing either. There are times during the movie where it just doesn’t look right. Whether it is bad sets, wardrobe, etc. It seems like they tried hard to make everything come together, but somehow it just doesn’t flow.

4.5 out of 10

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A duck, a goat and a horse walk into a bar…

The Noise

For a kids movie about a zebra who wants to be a race horse the sound is top notch. The barnyard sounds are crisp and the voice over dialogue comes through just fine. Anything here would work. Most 5 year olds aren’t going to care or notice the sound. It is nice, however, that Warner dropped some money on the disk to make it as pleasant as possible for the rest of us.

7 out of 10

It’s like Murphy’s Law. Whenever there is a barnyard orgy going on – no one ever has a video camera!

The Goodies

Damn they packed this thing full! Go Warner Brothers! For the most part the goodies didn’t really interest me – but I appreciate the effort here. Especially because I think kids (who are obviously the target) will love them.

The standard making of/special effect piece included on many disks is getting a little boring. This one (How To Make Animals Talk) doesn’t break any new ground – but it is interesting (and new) information for most kids. It breezes over some basic making of stuff before settling in on the voice talent and what they did to bring the characters to life. It was actually interesting – given the talent involved.

The interactive comic book was a nice addition too. It serves as a prequel to the movie – giving the viewer some back story. I wish other films would include something like this. It is a cheap/easy way to add some character depth into the story for fans buying the DVD.

There is also a “music of” featurette on the disk as well. It features Sting and Bryan Adams. I find it funny the world has finally be given the elusive Sting/Adams/Snoop Dog project!

8 out of 10


The Artwork

Eh… It is exactly what it needs to be. They needed to show the Zebra and parade the voice talent. It would have been funny if the poster played off the Seabiscuit poster or something.

5 out of 10

Overall: 5.65 out of 10