A sweet live-action, partially animated adventure featuring the voices of Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Malcolm in the Middle’s Frankie Muniz and Fringe’s Joshua Jackson. Made by some of the technical team who brought us that loveable pig who wanted to be a sheepdog, Babe, this is a similarly themed tale of a lonely animal wanting to belong. Accidentally abandoned by his circus owners, Stripes the baby zebra (voiced by Muniz) is left alone in the middle of a country road. Single dad farmer and former horse trainer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) finds the cute critter and takes him home, raising the zebra with the help of his teenage daughter Channing (Hayden Panettiere). Stripes doesn’t realise he’s a zebra though, and instead dreams of becoming a champion racehorse like the thoroughbreds he sees racing on the track near the Nolan farm. Will the other farm animals, including goat Franny (Goldberg) and pony Tucker (Hoffman) help Stripes realise his dream? And more to the point, which fool will decide it’s okay to enter and ride a zebra in a fast-moving horse race?
While not as heart-warming as Babe – Stripes comes across as a bit stubborn and selfish, especially when he is tricking Channing to ride him for the first time – this has some good vocal talent on board and some nice gags delivered by the talking animals (although some parents may not be impressed by the appearance of two animated flies who love squelching around in manure and talking nasty). Greenwood and Wendy Malick (as the race course owner) both have fun with their roles as the nicer-than-nice dad and his horrible neighbour, but in the end it’s the cute, cuddly animals who steal the show and will no doubt enchant the under-tens.
Is Racing Stripes suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...