About halfway through Racing Stripes, there's a gag where a pair of horseflies fall ass-backward into a heap of shit, only to assume they've died and gone to heaven. If there's a better metaphor for the plight of any kiddie caregiver forced to sacrifice another Saturday afternoon to this unfortunate series of clichés, I can't think of it. The film shares a problem with its hero: identity crisis. Stripes is a zebra who thinks he's a horse who wants to be a racehorse, but his eponymous two-color tones leave him a pariah mocked by his rival, Trenton's Pride, as half horse, half fence. His story seems initially to be Babe lite, a quaint moral fable uttered from the Clutch Cargo mouths of the crass menagerie of barnyard usual suspects (and voiced mostly by an onslaught of slumming B-listers). Once the Aladdin-y referential humor surfaces"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in," hams Joe Pantoliano as Goose, the pelican contract killer from Jersey, anticipating parental lamentsthe film's multiple personality disorder starts to show. By the time the ass puns and poo humor start peppering the landscape, awake adults might start to envy those able to sleep through their kid's cackling. That'll do, zebra. That'll do.
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