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RACING STRIPES

As a hoary fairy-tale subgenre, the anthropomorphic-animal film has spent a decade standing on the shoulders of an orphaned swine who charmed audiences in his quest to become a sheep-herding champion. Chris Noonanís Babe was one of the best films of 1995. Enter Stripes, an abandoned circus zebra (voiced by Frankie Muniz) with dreams of becoming a racehorse, the equestrian challenger. The result couldnít be more black and white ó this zebra comes up lame. Just two weeks into the year, Frederik Du Chauís Racing Stripes could be remembered as one of 2005ís worst. Whereas Babe mined a barnyardís worth of great voice work from character actors, Racing Stripes opts for the celebrity approach (Joe Pantoliano, Whoopi Goldberg, and Dustin Hoffman: fire your agents) replete with scatological "humor." One might enjoy seeing David Spade covered in shit, but watching his animated counterpart wallow in it for 90 minutes merely stinks. Du Chau has never directed live actors before (his previous film was the animated Quest for Camelot), and to judge from the performers stranded on screen here, you could argue that he still hasnít. Straight to video for Stripes ó or the glue factory. (94 minutes)

BY BRETT MICHEL

Issue Date: January 14 - 20, 2005
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