Feb 19, 2009

Racing Stripes: Clearly someone didn't get the memo that flies are not cute or adorable.

Racing Stripes

His stripes made him an outcast. His heart made him a hero.

Because I do intend to honor requests made to the blog, I give you Racing Stripes. There seems to be some discussion out there that you can't be overly critical of this thing because it's a family/kid movie, and to point out how awful/unrealistic it is would be similar to kicking puppies for fun. Perhaps this would be the case if Babe failed to exist. Fortunately for us all, Babe does exist, and provides me with a perfect point of comparison.

Racing Stripes is Babe, only it's just painfully stupid. The stupid starts at the outset and it continues through to the end. It's a parade of stupid. If I had a child, I would not let them view this movie because I would be afraid it would somehow drag my child's intelligence down to its level of stupid.

This movie starts in Ohio, I think. A traveling circus is having some roadside issue and they're all scurrying around in the rain, trying to fix whatever issue they're having like they're being chased by wild wolves and if they don't get back on the road now surely calamity will befall them. This movie is stupid not because they're all circus workers, but because they are circus workers that are all dressed up as if they never wear street clothes. They stick their two zebras on the truck, pointedly ask around if they've left anything and then drive off, obviously leaving behind a baby zebra that is, for some inexplicable reason, sitting in a wooden box.

This is the best this movie can do in setting up its ridiculous premise. Can you just imagine the brainstorming the writers went through to create this piss poor attempt at plot? Well, anyway. Nolan Walsh drives up in his adorable old truck, saves the zebra, and brings it home to his thirteen-year-old daughter, Channing. Nolan was a Thoroughbred trainer before his jockey wife died in a racing accident, making him retire early and get rid of all his horses. Channing convinces him to keep the zebra because zoos are evil establishments that only keep animals in cages. OMG! So the zebra settles in and meets our other animal friends: Franny (the goat), Tucker (the pony), and Reggie (the rooster). You can pretty much ignore Reggie for the rest of the movie, because he's voiced by Jeff Foxworthy and delivers completely unfunny one liners. He also gets pooped on, which I guess was relevant somehow because this movie is all about poop jokes.

So three years pass and Stripes the zebra is now a dashing young colt that is obsessed with racing. However, because he is a zebra, his only taste of racing is by challenging the local mailman to a match race every day. I can't imagine how this started, but it's a long standing rivalry. Stripes is distracted by a white jumping Arabian and runs straight into a tree during his daily mailman race. The Arabian mare, Sandy, immediately takes a shining to Stripes and spurns the two Thoroughbred colts that desperately want to mate with her. Seeing has how she's in the same paddock with these two colts, I imagine she's probably already pregnant with one of their foals. Oh, wait, that's reality creeping in. In this movie she is Mandy Moore and her snappy come backs establish a boundary that they will not cross. Uh-huh. The two colts are Trenton's Pride and Ruffshodd, Trenton's Pride being the son of Sir Trenton, winner of the "Kentucky Open" which is just the Kentucky Derby if the Derby was run at Turfway Park on turf and was somehow an invitational to anything with four hooves.

Because Stripes is eager to prove himself just as capable of running fast as, say, Pride, he shows up at this moon race event, where it looks like all horses in Kentucky show up to reenact Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The goal is to challenge Pride to a race from one end of a field, around a giant rock, and back again. Stripes challenges Pride, and totally wipes out around the bend. Pride wins, people mock Stripes, etc.

Eventually the tractor breaks down, so Nolan hitches up Stripes and they plow the fields together because Tucker, who happens to be a race horse training pony, tells Stripes he has to be motivated and impress Nolan. Then this pelican comes out of nowhere, because he has a hit out on him from some gang in New Jersey (because pelicans are in gangs, and their "hits" involve getting pooped on...I told you this movie is all about poop jokes, and I am not kidding). The pelican goes insane and kills Channing's motorcycle, and then causes the truck to get a flat, which opens the door to Channing riding Stripes to her work at Turfway Park. Notice that Stripes has never been ridden before this moment, and he is perfectly tame enough to ride. Uh-huh.

At the track, Stripes wants to run on the course and Channing lets him, impressing a crusty handicapper and two horseflies, who yet again make mostly poop and farting jokes. Everyone's all astonished that Stripes can run a quarter mile in 23 seconds, but Nolan isn't going to train this zebra because it's insane he is deeply scarred from his wife's accident. Even when the evil woman on the "Turfway Board" invites Nolan to enter his zebra creature in the Open, Nolan is not swayed. At some point Sir Trenton tells Stripes that he is a zebra, and not a racehorse, so Stripes spirals into depression about his ability while Nolan changes his mind due to farm animal antics that result in him reminiscing over photographs of his wife. He decides to train Stripes and proceeds to plow a giant track through his suddenly fully grown field of corn. Field of Dreams references ensue. If you build it, Nolan, you can race your zebra around in it. I don't know how many people are going to come around to see that, seeing as how everyone of importance seems to be able to see this happening from various windows, balconies, and bleachers.

Unfortunately for him, Stripes is still all pissed off because he's a zebra and not a horse. He's just lion food, and no amount of tribal music is going to make him feel better! Enter Tucker to bitch slap sense into him. Stripes gets over it and learns how to enter Nolan's hand crafted starting gate that looks like two whitewashed outhouses connected by a fence. They train and train and Sir Trenton is not pleased with this development. So what's he going to do about it? He ambushes Stripes and Sandy while they are snuggling due to Stripes's inner wonderfulness that only she can see, bringing his posse with him. They beat up Stripes, leaving him unconscious in the mud with comical muddy hoof prints all over his body. You'd think that would be the end of things, but no. Magically he's okay and totally fine to race, but first they have to get Sandy away from Sir Trenton, who is holding her hostage...in her stall, in her barn, where he also happens to live, as they listen to Mozart together. Daunting. Tucker, Franny, the pelican, and the flies get Sandy out of her stall and escape. They also drive Sir Trenton mad by locking him in his stall and changing his Mozart to Walk This Way as performed by Run-D.M.C.

Stripes arrives at Turfway and they run in the Kentucky Open. Nolan makes this idiotic bet with the owner of Pride, indicating that if he wins he wants Sandy (who she owns for some reason) and if she wins she can have his farm. Like...dude, you're racing a zebra against Thoroughbreds. I know this is a family movie, but don't get too cocky. Thankfully she tells him that his land isn't worth her mare, so she alters the bet to making him work as her trainer again if he loses. Grand. At least he'll be making a living and won't be homeless in the event of a loss. The flies act as messengers between Stripes and Tucker the entire time, so when Stripes naturally starts to tire and fade to last, Tucker uses the wonders of reverse psychology to trick Stripes into trying a little harder, winning the race just narrowly over Pride. Pride turns into a nice guy and congratulates Stripes, the pelican poops on Pride's owner, and all is well.

  • I would like to point out that every one of those Thoroughbreds in the "Kentucky Open" was never once asked to run. They all had their heads choked back and they were going really damn slow.
  • No horrible sports movie would be complete without referencing Rocky IV. Stripes pulls cartloads of wood and Pride runs on treadmills and wears sauna suits. Pride is clearly a pussy.
  • The most awesome thing about this movie was that it was referenced in Flight of the Conchords.
  • I also can't believe this movie is 102 minutes long. Cut the pelican (who is a really horrible version of that duck in Babe) and most of the fly insanity and 80 minutes would have brought this movie out of BOMB territory and into a D- grade. Easy.

Honestly, this movie involved making a joke out of a fly eating crap. I fail to see how this is funny or even family humor. The whole zebra, girl, blah blah believe in me, I can do anything I put my mind to, blah storyline is fine and all, but the poop jokes. Oh my God, no. Just...no.


Heather said...

The thing is that most types of zebra have a stiffer spine than horses, so being ridden at a gallop can actually break their backs. I really wanted this to be a cute movie. I shamefully LOVE Babe.

Fear Street said...


Elizabeth said...

his thirteen-year-old daughter, Channing
What a gross name.

Sadako said...

Zebras aren't cute or adorable either. They're mean little mothers who like to bite.

Claire said...

Zebras kill more zookeepers than any other animal.

Anonymous said...

I know. It was so AWFUL! I honestly thought the father-daughter interaction was kind of cute. And the zebra racing storyline was tolerable if they had cut down on the number of cute animals and the sob story. But REALLY. The pelican is a "hit man"...by pooping. The flies fall in crap and celebrate, whooping it up and eating $h!t. The flies fall in coffee and propel themselves around by farting. The pelican poops on the villainess...Jeff Foxworthy's character runs around clucking crappy one-liners about how poop stings. I actually thought I liked this movie tolerably five years ago...and now, I'm actually ashamed I ever liked it. Yes, it's one of those movies that's so bad you're ashamed you ever saw it. I like "goofball" comedies...but this is just a "we did it half-a$$ed" movie. Only Hayden could save it. And they put I think Turfway...IN AFRICA! They filmed it in Africa.

Mara said...

Half-assed is a perfect way to describe this. I stumbled across Babe this weekend and watched it, just to remind myself that Babe was a substantially better movie and this is a horrible, horrible zebra based imitation. Babe is so much better.

Seriously, one poop joke is too many. Once you've fallen to that sort of humor, you'd done so because you can't think of anything else worthwhile to say.

Monique said...

as a side note, this was filmed mostly in South Africa. The zebra is really a painted pony and all the thoroughbreds you see are of South African lineage. They had a massive auction of all the animals and tack used in this film too. Probably to recoop costs.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I heard it was a zonkey (zebra+donkey). And, having watched too many nature films, I'd have to agree. That didn't look like a pony.

Martin said...

"piss poor attempt at plot?" Seriously, and you call yourself a writer? Get a clue, the movie was a fantasy, or do you really believe that zebras, horses, goats, pelicans, roosters, dogs can "talk" to each other?

Mara said...

Are you suggesting that movies with talking animals can't have respectable plots because they involve talking animals? Or is it because the animals were made up of zebras and various barnyard creatures?

Regardless, it was bad. Just because it's fantasy doesn't make it not bad.