Racing Stripes is a “family film” about a zebra (with the original name “Stripes”) who’s only dream is to race with the other horses. Stripes, you see, was abandoned and then rescued by horse farmer Nolan Walsh (played by Bruce Greenwood). Nolan’s younger daughter, Channing (played by Hayden Panettiere), takes the young zebra under her wing, and she helps Stripes realize his dream: to race with the horses. Stripes’ litany of zany friends include a pelican, a lazy bloodhound, flies, roosters, a wise goat, an… some Shetland ponies. That’s the story in a nutshell.
But is the movie any good? Well…the human actors are solid. And the list of voice actors is like a roll call of the star studded. There’s Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Foxworthy, David Spade, Snoop Dogg, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Clarke Duncan, Mandy Moore, and Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle himself) as Stripes. What a cast! But what’s the problem? Other than having a live animal’s mouth move in a computer generated manner? That looks a little weird. But, as they say, it all starts with the script.
Racing Stripes hits all the right notes. It’s got the villains, the well meaning family, and the sympathetic hero. Stripes tries to be Babe, but has none of the charm or the wit. Too many barnyard jokes for my liking. I suppose there’s an important message, believing in your dream. It’s a mild entertainment and might serve as way to pass the time on “family night”.
There is Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, French, and Spanish. Between the three tracks, there’s really not much of a difference in sound design. Only in language. The animals talk in a different language. But seriously, it’s a clean track all around. The use of surround is most prominent during soaring musical sections and racing scenes. The thundering hooves can be deafening (if turned up loud…but why would you…seriously). This is a clear, clean track with not a lot of originality given to sound design.
This reviewer’s copy of Racing Stripes is presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The picture, I must say, is clean as a whistle. Nary a grain or digital defect to be found. I’m sure there are some, but I couldn’t see too many. Colors are very natural. Helps create that whole “barnyard” effect. A very nice transfer.
There are a number of features on this single disc:
First off, there is a director’s commentary by Frederik Du Chau. It’s a fairly informative commentary about the nature of working with animals and creating CGI animal mouths. Something we all need to know. There are deleted scenes, an alternate ending, barnyard outtakes, and some featurettes on working with animals and creating those durn CGI mouths.
One of the strangest features is something called Buzz and Scuzz’s Flying Fiasco Challenge. It’s some kind of racing game, and I couldn’t figure what the heck was going on. Rounding out the extras we have a virtual comic book (with or without narration), a short feature on the music of Racing Stripes (with Sting and Bryan Adams…what a combo…Everything I Do, I Do It for Synchronicity?), and a theatrical trailer. Phew. That’s a lot of extras.
Racing Stripes is a PG rated “family movie”. Oh those crude barnyard jokes. But with a wealth of extras, fine video, and audio, it could be worth a rental. I mean…what a cast! But we’ve seen this story before. It’s just dressed up in different stripes. Bring on Seabiscuit!
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Barnyard Outtakes
- Featurette – How to Make Animals Talk
- Featurette – Acting Class with Animals
- Deleted Scenes
- Flying Fiasco Challenge
- Virtual Comic Book
- Featurette – The Music of Racing Stripes
- Theatrical Trailer