Plot: What’s it about?
A bitter storm pours down on a traveling circus troupe, making their already hard journey even harder, but as always, they push on toward their next destination. This time however, the troupe leaves part of their circus behind and thanks to the intense storm, no one even notices. A baby zebra is separated from the troupe, left in the cold to survive on its own. The zebra isn’t alone for long however, as local farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) rescues the baby and takes the animal back home. He turns over the zebra to his young daughter Channing (Hayden Panettiere), who names her new best friend Stripes. Of course, Stripes has plenty of other animals to interact with, from horses to dogs to a pelican, so Stripes quickly becomes very social. The Walsh farm is right next to the famous Turfway Racetrack, home to the Kentucky Derby, so soon enough, Stripes sees the horses in action. Instantly, Stripes knows the race track is the place to be, but the only problem is that Stripes isn’t a horse…
We’ve all heard about the horse of a different color, right? How about a horse of a different pattern? That’s the basic premise of Racing Stripes, as a zebra tries to fit into the world of horse racing and of course, it met with obstacles around each turn. I don’t mind movies with an animal focus, as I like animals, but Racing Stripes didn’t interest me in the least. The previews were lame, a poor mixture of live action schmaltz and low rent animation, so I wasn’t primed to handle this review. Even so, I trooped ahead and sat down with Racing Stripes, braced for the worst. On the slanted scale for light family entertainment, the movie wasn’t bad and given the alternatives, makes a solid rental for the family movie nights. The jokes are often corny, especially the ones delivered by the animal voice actors, but hey, that’s almost always the case with family cinema. The whole film is coated knee deep in syrup, but like I said, that’s the nature of the beast. Warner’s disc is a solid treatment all around, including a nice selection of bonus materials. So if you want a rental that is suitable for the whole clan, then Racing Stripes would make a more than acceptable choice.
Video: How does it look?
Racing Stripes is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The print looks great, with no marks, nicks, or other defects, including grain, which is minimal at worst. So even in the darker scenes, which are quite frequent, the detail level remains high and the visuals never have a soft texture. The colors look bright when needed, such as the bold race attire, while black levels are razor sharp and as well balanced as we could ask. In other words, another excellent visual presentation from Warner.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is more than solid, but of course, this is a dialogue driven picture and that means limited surround use. The musical soundtrack sparks the speakers at times, but aside from that, this one is anchored in the front channels. The dialogue is clean and crisp in this mix, with no volume or clarity issues to contend with. As far as dialogue reliant flick soundtracks go, this is a good one and while it isn’t that active, all the elements seem in order. This is a family comedy after all, so we shouldn’t expect that much. This disc also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, so a lot of bases have been covered.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Frederik du Chau provides a technical, rather dull audio commentary track, which is a surprise, given the brisk, light nature of the film itself. He does admit that this is his first time in such a session, so perhaps with more experience, his tracks will liven up. As it stands however, even fans of the movie can afford to skip this one, as the track is a total waste of time. You can also check out a selection of deleted scenes and some outtakes, as well as a neat virtual comic book. The rest of the supplements, various short featurettes, aren’t substantial enough to even mess with, though the film’s theatrical trailer is a welcome addition.