A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Racing Stripes has some mild language, including insults like "idiot," "blow sunshine up your tail," and "kick your butt." A bad word is amusingly cut off by an animal's "baaa." There is some crude humor, much of it involving animal poop (which most children will find very funny). An animal parent is very harsh to his child. There is a scary fall and some off-camera violence, but no one is hurt. Some viewers may be concerned about the storyline concerning the death of Channing's mother in a racing accident.
What's the story?
RACING STRIPES gets rolling when horse trainer turned farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) finds a baby zebra and brings him home. For his daughter, Channing (Hayden Panittiere), it is love at first sight. Three years later, Stripes is a cherished part of the farm family. But Stripes (voiced by Frankie Muniz), who has never seen another zebra, thinks he is a racehorse, like the thoroughbreds he sees at the race course next door, owned by snooty Carla (Wendie Malick). His friends include pony Tucker (Dustin Hoffman), a goat (Whoopi Goldberg), wayward seagull Goose, and horseflies Scuzz and Buzz. The race horses jeer at him, but Stripes trains and dreams of winning a real race. A sympathetic filly named Sandy (Mandy Moore) provides encouragement. The animals find a way to let Channing know that Stripes is fast enough to race and wants to ride him, but Nolan, whose wife died in a racing accident, does not want Channing to compete.
Is it any good?
This is the best live-action talking-animal movie since the beloved Babe. The human performers are just fine, especially the underrated Greenwood. He is too often relegated to bad-guy roles, but he shows real warmth and screen presence here. Up-and-coming young Panittiere makes us believe in her devotion to her father and the dream of racing she shares with Stripes.
But Racing Stripes is all about the animals and the voice talents and computer-aided "acting" make the characters very real and very appealing. The humor may overdo the doo-doo, but there are sweet and funny moments as Stripes tries to follow his dream and learns the importance of friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Stripes was so unhappy to find out he was not a horse in Racing Stripes. Why did Clara and Nolan have different ideas about what was important? Why do some people think "different is scary?"
What does it mean to say "You can put your boots in the oven but that doesn't make them biscuits?" What made Nolan change his mind about letting Channing race?
What do you think about the importance of both skill and discipline, and both ability and heart? What can you tell about the way families can resolve differences by the way Nolan and Channing talk to each other?
- In theaters: January 14, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: May 10, 2005
- Cast: Frankie Muniz, Hayden Panettiere, Wendie Malick
- Director: Frederik Du Chau
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and martial arts, Horses and farm animals, Wild animals
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild crude humor and some language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.