Thursday, May 12, 2005

Racing Stripes

Intro: Racing Stripes is a very entertaining movie. Complete with a fun storyline, cheesy inspirational music and dialog, meaningful moral, cute talking animals, truly a movie for the whole family!

Summary: The movie is about a zebra who, when young, is accidentally left behind and found by a farmer – who was actually a great race-horse trainer until his wife died and he lost his will to train – who takes him home to his farm and allows his daughter to keep him. (You can only guess what name she gave him.) On the farm, Stripes (Frankie Muniz) meets the barnyard animals – a cranky Shetland Pony named Tucker (Dustin Hoffman), a wise old goat named Franny (Whoopi Goldberg), a simple-minded rooster named Reggie, and the deranged newcomer gangster-pelican named Goose who’s really a chicken who ducks. Well, Stripes grows up believing he’s a race-horse. He dreams to run on the track and take on the track’s famous champion’s cocky son, Sir Trenton’s Pride. With the help of his barnyard friends, the jumper filly, Sandy (Mandy Moore), his personal coach, Tucker and the farmer’s daughter, Channing, not to mention helping the broken farmer himself return to training horses and train Stripes, this spunky zebra sets his sights on the finish line to beat Pride and show the other race-horses once and for all. But the ruthless Sir Trenton won’t be taking that chance of letting his son be beaten by a zebra. After all, he was a champion, just like his father, and his father, and his father, for a hundred years since the founding of the track.

Comment: A fun movie to watch, keeps you entertained. Well, in my opinion, they put a little too much human emotions into the animals (like the horses’ private Blue Moon Races, and how the heck can a filly and a zebra hook up?), but still, it is fun to see the animals do what they do. The dialog will itch out from you a giggle or two. And the animals are very well trained, sometimes their movements actually go along with the dialog! I think Dustin Hoffman was perfect for Tucker. I love Tucker, he is so small and cute, I want him! The one I really love the most, though, has to be Sir Trenton.

Favorite character: Although Fred Dalton Thompson did put up a good performance as the fierce, jet black 1500 pound champion stallion, it is the horse which really gave the character THE factor. Beautiful, big, strong, majestic, the stallion used to play Sir Trenton is truly an absolutely amazing animal. See how he whinnies furiously and rears up in rage, the whipping of his ebon tail and the trashing of his hooves, the flaring of his nostrils and the glare of his eyes. When he gallops, just listen to the mighty beating of his hooves, you may even feel his hot breath at the back of your neck. Absolutely gorgeous! When this ruthless monster rears his handsome head, you’d better run for cover, coz he’s the boss of his very own gang of fearsome stallions, each one of them professional racers, bred to compete. If I were to ever get a horse, a horse like Sir Trenton would be my choice! You know, apart from Tornado (The Mask of Zorro), Sir Trenton is the most gorgeous black stallion I have ever seen on screen.

*Spoiler* Personal Opinion: Like every family movie, the star of the show always wins, thus Stripes does beat Sir Trenton’s Pride in the end and comes out first. Well, it is after all a movie, but had it been real life, a young zebra like that would never have beaten a whole track of pro race-horses. Beating one of two might be possibly, but not all! Especially not a stallion who’s been trained to hard and is descended from a long line of champions while this zebra is son of circus performers descended from a line of wild zebras in the plains of Africa, and all he has for training is a cleared dirt track through a corn field and a make-shift gate.
Okay, sure, he’s also got the greatest race-horse trainer in Kentucky and a Shetland Pony who’s trained his own share of host of champions, including Sir Trenton himself! But put Stripes beside even Sandy the filly whose affections he wins, even she stands taller than he does! And his jockey is a 16-year-old girl. In addition, he got pummeled by Sir Trenton and his entire gang only the night before the race. No way he would have recovered and run in such a short period of time.
Also, in my view, although some of the other horses cheated in the race, Stripes himself kind of cheated too, in a way. Those horses, well, Ruffshodd, to be precise, pushed him towards the rail. And Sir Trenton’s Pride’s jockey whipped out at him. (Pride didn’t do anything, though. He’s a meanie, but a fair-player.) Anyway, I say Stripes cheated too because he had off-track help. He had Goose in the air looking out for him, he had the two flies deliver messages from the air to Tucker, who then got them to pass advice, directions and instructions to Stripes to help him win the race. Also, those flies bit Ruffshodd on the buttocks, making the stallion rear painfully and throw his jockey off, thus getting disqualified – one competition for Stripes out of the way.
So although Stripes’ heart, will, training and perseverance did help him win the race, the win wasn’t totally 100% honest. The other horses never had any advice from anyone off the track, they had to think for themselves and follow their jockeys. Honestly, I do wish that Pride had won the race. He deserved it, seeing the training he put in and that mean lady (president of that track) made the trainers push him twice as hard and double his training. Also seeing how hard and tough Sir Trenton was on him and Pride’s defeat meant a hundred-year line of champions broken by a zebra. A real disgrace to Pride, I can’t see why he took it so lightly and even became nice to Stripes. Sure, he’s not a sore loser, that’s good, but I think he should have felt some anger and shame. After all, his father’s been drumming into his head since he was a colt that he has to win the championship. But that’s my view.
My Rating: 3/5*

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