the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Warner Home Video presents

Racing Stripes (2004)

"Well, like my mama used to say, you can put your boots in the oven, but that won't make 'em biscuits."- Lightning (Snoop Dogg)

Stars: Bruce Greenwood, Hayden Panettiere, M. Emmet Walsh, Wendie Malick
Other Stars: Frankie Muniz, Mandy Moore, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jeff Foxworthy, Joshua Jackson, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Rosenbaum, Steve Harvey, David Spade, Snoop Dogg, Fred Dalton Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg
Director: Frederik Du Chau

MPAA Rating: PG for (mild crude humor, some language)
Run Time: 01h:41m:47s
Release Date: 2005-05-10
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C-A-B+ B+


DVD Review

It seemed like it was safe to put the talking live animal genre to bed after the dreck that was Cats & Dogs and the Dr. Dolittle remakes. However, late 2004 saw the theatrical release of Racing Stripes, which tanked at the box office, hopefully finally signifying the death of this subgenre.

Racing Stripes features a nice mix of live actors and famous voice talents, with higher-profile talent handling the voices. The only notable live actor is the venerable Bruce Greenwood, but the voices include Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle), Mandy Moore, Snoop Dogg, David Spade, Whoopi Goldberg, and Dustin Hoffman. Still, regardless of the level of talent these actors lend to their respective talking animals, the film won't do much for anyone over the age of 12 or so.

It tells the story of Stripes, a zebra who is abandoned by a circus, but soon discovered by a farmer (Greenwood) and his daughter, Channing (Hayden Panettiere). It seems as if Stripes has always aspired to be a race horse; sort of a difficult thing to pull off when you're a zebra.

After showing off his speed and getting Channing to convince her father that it's safe to ride Stripes in a race, he is soon being trained by the young girl. Reality sets in for Stripes, though, when he realizes that he is, indeed a zebra, and not a race horse. However, some encouragement comes from unexpected sources, Stripes' fellow farm animals, ranging from a couple of horseflies (voiced by Spade and Steve Harvey) to a "made" goose (Joe Pantoliano).

Racing Stripes is a kids' film in a family film's clothing, as it touches on the melodramatic/feel-good aspects that practically scream family entertainment. From the "little zebra that could" storyline to a daughter trying to win her father's trust, these aspects aren't given enough screen time to keep adults involved, instead focusing on the interactions between the wacky animals. Fortunately, this will at least keep the kids plastered to the screen, and the DVD player on "repeat" when this disc is in it.

It seems like the actors and voice talent had a good enough time, but their emoting (the human actors) and wacky banter (most of the voices) can only be interesting for so long, and with this film, that doesn't last very long. Bruce Greenwood, as always, gives an excellent performance as the father, and Spade and Harvey are the best of the animal bunch as the incessantly buzzing horseflies.

I, for one, hope that Racing Stripes is the final nail in the coffin of the talking animal films. These projects, despite the success of the Dr. Dolittle flicks, were bad ideas to begin with, and it just might have taken a flop like Racing Stripes for producers everywhere to finally realize this.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This is a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that is almost exactly what you would expect from a six-month-old film. Every image is sharp and detailed, right down to the individual hairs on Stripes, himself. Bright, vibrant colors are a constant, with not even a hint of bleeding or other blemishes. The only real problem with the transfer is some edge enhancement and a bit of grain and dirt, but these are few and far between, and don't detract from the overall look.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: This Dolby Digital 5.1 track is typical family comedy fare, but the large surround presence was a nice surprise. Even though the surrounds are limited to ambient sounds and music, they still spring to life much more than expected. A slight bit of tight, aggressive bass is present as well, and dialogue is crystal clear as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Son of the Mask
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Frederik Du Chau
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Barnyard Outtakes: Four funny clips left out of the film.
  2. Buzz & Scuzz's Flyin' Fiasco: Interactive horse-racing game.
  3. Interactive Comic Book: Comic book prequel to Racing Stripes
Extras Review: Kids will love this great extras collection, but adults can watch the film while listening to an audio commentary track by director Frederik Du Chau. This track has this first-time director discussing his experiences on the set of Racing Stripes, and all of the technical issues that go into making a movie mixing life actors and talking animals.

There are a bunch of scenes that were left out of the film, including five Additional Scenes, four Barnyard Outtakes, and an Alternate Ending that isn't as interesting as the original.

Three featurettes are here as well, including How to Make Animals Talk, a five-minute piece that shows exactly what went into bringing these live animals to life. Animal Acting 101 is almost 10 minutes long, and is narrated by Frankie Muniz, still in character as Stripes. This is a step-by-step account of what it means to be an animal actor. The last featurette is The Music of Racing Stripes with Sting and Bryan Adams, and this piece shows these world-renowned artists discussing their work on the soundtrack for the film.

A cool feature is the Interactive Comic Book, which tells the story of what happened before the events in Racing Stripes. You also have the option to view the animated comic book with a narrator either on or off.

There's an interactive game called Buzz & Scuzz's Flyin' Fiasco, which has kids choosing the correct pattern in order to win a horse race. Rounding things out is the Theatrical Trailer for Racing Stripes.

Extras Grade: B+

Final Comments

While adults won't exactly be jumping for joy, kids everywhere are sure to be begging their parents to pick up Racing Stripes on DVD. Fortunately, kids will not only love the movie itself, but there are enough fun, interactive extras to keep this DVD spinning for quite some time.

Chuck Aliaga 2005-05-09