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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frederik Du Chau|
|Produced by||Andrew A. Kosove
Edward L. McDonnell
|Written by||David Schmidt (screenplay)
Steven P. Wegner
Frederik Du Chau (story)
Fred Dalton Thompson
M. Emmet Walsh
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Edited by||Tom Finan|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. (United States / International)
Momentum Pictures (United Kingdom)
Racing Stripes is a American family film, directed by Frederik Du Chau. It is similar in the style to Babe, in that the protagonist is a talking animal who lives on a farm and succeeds at an activity not expected of his species. It was filmed in Pietermaritzburg and Nottingham Road, South Africa.
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In a rush to pack up during a thunderstorm, the Circus Sarano (a traveling circus) accidentally leaves behind a baby zebra. The foal is rescued by Nolan Walsh, a former Thoroughbred-racehorse trainer who retired when his wife Carolyn, a jockey, died in a racing accident a few years ago. Nolan takes the zebra home to his farm and leaves it under the care of his daughter Channing, who names him "Stripes". Stripes befriends the other farmyard animals, including elderly goat Franny, dim-witted rooster Reggie, and grumpy Shetland pony Tucker, who try to educate him about life on the farm, but he becomes convinced that he is destined for the nearby racetrack, the Kentucky Open, not realizing that he is a zebra and is not qualified to race. At a fence next to the racetrack, Stripes meets two horse foals training to race; Trenton's Pride and Ruffshodd. At first, they have fun playing with Stripes but out of the stables, Trenton's Pride's father, Sir Trenton, a racehorse champion, isn't pleased to see his son and friend playing with a zebra; saying that "If you're going to be a champion, I suggest you start acting like one." Stripes asks Tucker why Pride and Ruffshodd shouldn't play with him. Tucker said to Stripes that he's different, realizing that for some horses, different is scary.
Three years later, an adult Stripes performs his daily race with a mailman, but loses after becoming distracted by a friendly jumper white horse named Sandy, whom he develops a crush on. While talking to Sandy, he is approached by Trenton's Pride and Ruffshodd, a pair of now fully-grown and trained Thoroughbreds who bully Stripes; the former challenges Stripes to a racing match at the Blue Moon Races, a Thoroughbred gathering. Stripes accepts the challenge, but he loses the race after he doesn't slow down on a slippery turn and embarrasses himself in front of the other Thoroughbreds except Sandy.
The following day, Tucker, having secretly watched Stripes at the Blue Moon Races, approaches him and suggests that he gets proper training first before trying to race; starting with a pulling plough for example. Stripes, in need of a rider, chooses Channing and enlists the help of new farm animal, a pelican named Goose, to sabotage Channing's motorcycle and Nolan's old pickup truck so that Channing can ride him to her workplace at the Kentucky Open as a last resort. Goose succeeds, comically sustaining injuries in the process. The plan works, and Channing, with Nolan's reluctant approval, rides Stripes to the Kentucky Open. There, Channing is antagonized by her boss, Clara Dalrymple, for bringing Stripes to the racetrack, while Stripes meets a pair of horsefly brothers, Buzz and Scuzz.
As night approaches, Channing, remembering her first ride on horseback with her mother in the style of Hammy's Big Years, instinctively completes a lap around the racetrack with Stripes. They are approached by Woodzie, an elderly racetrack gambler and friend of the Walsh family, who encourages Channing to sign her and Stripes up for a tryout race tomorrow. She does, despite Nolan's disapproval, but Stripes becomes scared by the horse-gate, and then gets hit in the face by flying dirt while racing, causing Channing to fall off. Though she is uninjured, Nolan chastises her, but gets into an argument with Dalrymple when she bullies Channing. In retaliation, Dalrymple sarcastically signs Stripes up to compete in the Kentucky Open competition. Meanwhile, Stripes realizes he is a zebra when he is confronted by Sir Trenton; this revelation severely discourages him, leading to an argument with Sandy and his friends and a reluctance to race with Channing.
Despite Channing's pleas, Nolan refuses to let her race with Stripes, even threatening to give Stripes away if she does not cooperate with his orders. Realizing this, the farm animals lure Nolan into the farm and show him a table holding many of his accomplishments as a racehorse trainer and he changes his mind. Meanwhile, Franny reveals to Stripes, who stills remains reluctant, that Tucker helped Nolan train all the racehorse champions; including Sir Trenton himself, and that his grumpy nature was caused when none of his pupils ever thanked him in return. This encourages Stripes to begin training with Nolan and Channing seriously after the zebra makes an apology to Tucker. Refusing to allow Stripes to enter into the race, Sir Trenton and several Thoroughbreds (except Pride, who wants to win the race fair and square) ambush Stripes and Sandy at a creek while they are making amends at night; kidnapping Sandy and threatening to hurt her if he races. The Thoroughbreds then knock Stripes unconscious. Tucker, Franny, and Goose find him and they agree to rescue Sandy. With Buzz and Scuzz's help, they distract Sir Trenton and rescue Sandy from the stables.
They then hurry back to the Walsh farm, where Nolan, Channing, and Woodzie take Stripes and Tucker to the Kentucky Open; Sandy, Franny, Goose, Buzz, Scuzz, and Reggie follow. Goose and the fly brothers are assigned to keep an eye on Stripes during the race while flying. When the race begins, Stripes is unable to keep up with the other racehorses, and furthermore, several other jockeys try to sabotage him; mostly Ruffshodd and his jockey (before Scuzz bites his posterior which causes Ruffshodd to toss his rider and get him disqualified). However, he remembers a piece of advice given to him by Tucker ("Don't look back, leave it all on the track"), which encourages him to catch up with Pride, who is in the lead, and Stripes manages to barely win. Impressed, Pride makes amends with Stripes, while Dalrymple, unsatisfied with Channing and Stripes's victory, becomes embarrassed when Goose shoots bird droppings on her hat in front of the press. As Nolan and Channing are awarded, Stripes approaches Tucker and gives him his award wreath as thanks. Then, Channing, Nolan, Stripes, and all of his animal friends gather to have their picture taken together in one shot as the story ends.
In an alternative ending, it is revealed that Stripes and Sandy had a zorse son together who has a white body and a stripy head. He is seen looking over at the Kentucky Open and asking what it is with his father saying that it is the racetrack and his mother telling him that there is more to life than running around in a circle, to which Stripes agrees to.
- Nolan "The Chief" Walsh (Bruce Greenwood), Channing's father, a corn farmer, and retired racehorse trainer who has not been able to bear training horses ever since his wife was killed when her racehorse stumbled a few years ago. Fearing that Channing will hurt herself if she rides, he refuses to let her anywhere near a saddle.
- Channing Walsh (Hayden Panettiere), Nolan's daughter who is determined to ride on horseback, and despite her lack of opportunity, she has a natural talent for it like her mother.
- Woodzie (M. Emmet Walsh), an old racetrack gambler and friend of the Walsh family. He sympathizes with Channing, especially since he sees the same gift in her that was present in her mother.
- Clara Dalrymple (Wendie Malick), Nolan's former employer, who admires Trenton's Pride and Ruffshodd and only sees the Kentucky Open competition as a means of business and money and is not concerned for the well-being of her horses.
- John Cooper (Gary Bullock), one of the racehorse trainers for the Kentucky Open. He doesn't share his boss Dalrymple's views on pushing her horses past their limits, but continues to follow her instructions in order to get his paychecks.
- Wesley Lazarus played the role of a race day attendant in the movie, making his movie debut.
- Stripes (Frankie Muniz), an orphaned zebra who desires to compete in the Kentucky Open race, which leads to bullying from the local racehorses with the sole exception of Sandy, whom he has a crush on. His younger self was voiced by Jansen Panettiere.
- Tucker (Dustin Hoffman), a Shetland pony who used to help Nolan Walsh train racehorses; including Sir Trenton. He upholds a grumpy personality after years of training horses who never give him any thanks for his help.
- Franny (Whoopi Goldberg), an elderly Saanen goat who constantly encourages Stripes to pursue his dream and gives him many words of advice.
- Sandy (Mandy Moore), a professional jumper white horse. She is the only horse who supports Stripes's dream to become a racehorse. She and Stripes have romantic feelings for each other, which become mutual by the end of the film.
- Buzz and Scuzz (Steve Harvey and David Spade, respectively), a pair of horsefly brothers who are good friends with Tucker. Buzz is larger and has blue eyes, while Scuzz is scrawnier and has red eyes. The brothers have a notable liking for music: Scuzz is a rap fan, while Buzz favors more conservative music.
- Reggie (Jeff Foxworthy), the Walsh farm's rooster, who means well, but is not very bright. He serves as the news announcer for the rest of the farm animals.
- Goose (Joe Pantoliano), an American White Pelican from the big city. He states that he moved to the farm in order to escape several other birds who have placed a hit on him, and that he was a "hit bird". It is presumably his experiences that render him afraid of loud noises.
- Sir Trenton (Fred Dalton Thompson), an arrogant black Thoroughbred horse who sees his son, Trenton's Pride, as having no purpose other than to carry on the Trenton legacy. He also seems to view the Kentucky Open competition as his property, this leads to his own bad nature towards Stripes, whom he believes might ruin it.
- Trenton's Pride (Joshua Jackson), Sir Trenton's son, who is a bully and picks on Stripes every chance he gets. However, by the end of the film, he makes up with Stripes, having become impressed with his racing ability. His younger self was voiced by Kyle Alcazar.
- Ruffshodd (Michael Rosenbaum), Pride's friend and lackey. At first, it seems that he bullies Stripes with Pride merely out of sycophancy for the latter, but in reality, he is a worse bully by far, proving quite eager to help Sir Trenton in threatening Sandy in order to keep Stripes from running in the Kentucky Open. This is further evidenced when he persistently tries to sabotage Stripes during the Kentucky Open competition. His younger self was voiced by Frankie Ryan Manriquez.
- Lightning (Snoop Dogg), the family's lazy Bloodhound who talks while sleeping all day.
Plot details and coincidences
- Racing Stripes has many plot similarities to the later-released Disney movie, Herbie: Fully Loaded. In fact, an Image Search for "Racing Stripes" on Yahoo revealed pictures of Herbie (due to his design) much sooner than it did any pictures pertaining to Racing Stripes.
- According to Ripley's Believe It or Not, at least one person has succeeded in training and riding a zebra as a racehorse.
- In the movie, Tucker says he has "shorter legs than a sheepdog". This is probably a bit of a pun on the fact that he is a Shetland pony, since there is also a Shetland sheepdog.
- Scuzz once calls himself "Luke Scuzzwalker", a reference to the Star Wars character, Luke Skywalker.
- Goose's remark towards Tucker ("Hey, be careful, Pony-Boy, or someday someone's gonna wake up with your head in their bed!") contains references to The Outsiders and The Godfather and his remark to Dalrymple ("Say hello to my little friend.") is a reference to Scarface.
The film's score was composed by Mark Isham, who also produced and co-wrote "Taking the Inside Rail" with Sting; "It Ain't Over Yet," heard at the end of the film, was written by Bryan Adams, Gretchen Peters and Eliot Kennedy and produced by Adams. The soundtrack album was released on January 11, 2005 on the Varese Sarabande label.
- Taking the Inside Rail - Sting (4:16)
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night (4:05)
- At Home on Walsh Farm (5:01)
- I'm a Racehorse! (2:51)
- The Blue Moon Races (3:39)
- A Pelican Named Goose (1:19)
- Tucker Lays It Out! (2:25)
- Goose Makes a Hit on the Iron Horse (2:10)
- Run Like the Wind (2:04)
- Twilight Run (2:27)
- Upstaged by a Zebra (2:46)
- A Brave Decision (1:48)
- Glory Days (3:18)
- If You Build It, They Will Come (2:21)
- Out of Africa (1:06)
- Spring Training (2:31)
- Ambushed! (4:48)
- Filly in Distress (1:05)
- Race Day (1:03)
- They're All In! (1:12)
- The Big Race (7:19)
- In The Winner's Circle (1:54)
- It Ain't Over Yet - Bryan Adams (3:18)
The film was a modest success at the box office, having covered its budget. It grossed $28,000,000 at the American box office and an additional $62,000,000 at the international box office.
Critical reaction to the film was mixed to negative, with the movie scoring 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 99 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "An entertaining children movie that ought to be tolerable for adults." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 46 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.
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