Pity the poor zebra who yearns to be a racehorse. Neither nature nor breeding have given him the strength or stamina to outrun a thoroughbred, and what's more, the animal in question—an abandoned zebra named Stripes (voice of Frankie Muniz) who is found and adopted by a retired horse trainer named Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood)—has suffered a lifetime of taunts from barnyard animals who think he's a little, well, different. And just to add insult to injury, even when Stripes gets a movie all to himself, the marketing team assigned to promote the film forgets what species he is. "Cheer 'til you're horse!" proclaim the ads, which is just the sort of thing to make a zebra's identity crisis even worse.
Oh, but let's not be too serious. Racing Stripes is a live-action cartoon, one of those films in which real animals speak human dialogue through digitally animated lips and teeth. As these things go, the film is certainly nowhere near as interesting or entertaining as the two Babe movies, but it is probably better than Cats & Dogs, if only because it has a fair bit of heart and takes place in a natural world that people of all ages can relate to. As directed by Belgian animator Frederik Du Chau (Quest for Camelot), Racing Stripes may have its problems—more on those in a minute—but in its own modest way, it is a fun, charming little family film that should keep the kids happy while giving parents a chuckle or two.
The set-up is pretty straightforward. Stripes has grown up next door to an estate where thoroughbreds are trained for the Kentucky Open, and he envies the bigger, more muscular horses who get to flaunt their speed on a regular basis. The horses, of course, mock Stripes for looking kind of funny, but ...1
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