Steve Harvey and David Spade, as horseflies Buzz and Scuzz, are alternatively funny and annoying. I don’t know when it became de rigueur to include scatology in family entertainment, but this movie has its share – and what a shame. It’s my biggest criticism of the film. Not only does this encourage kids to talk about and do disgusting things, but it also lowers societal standards of what is acceptable conversation. That a fly likes poop, okay – we can deal with it, and perhaps even laugh occasionally. But that he has a problem passing gas, I do not need to see, especially over and over. Get over it, Hollywood.

The flies otherwise provide for some witty dialogue, which flows throughout the film, and the novice screenwriter team of David Schmidt and Steven Wegner deserve kudos. Buzz says, “I’ve got 20 million brothers and sisters, and I gotta look out after you.” Scuzz later quips, “You think life’s tough? Try starting off as a maggot.” Goldberg also has some good lines that include “Don’t make me open a can of whup pony!” and, to the pelican, “You seem a little more surf than turf.” Another cute line is, “Who’s horse enough?”

Another positive element to this film – and perhaps its greatest achievement – is the strong messages that it sends about accepting people’s differences (a veiled allusion to racism) and believing in yourself. Growing up, my mother always told me, “You can become almost anything you want, as long as you’re willing to work hard enough and persevere.” It’s a message that is rarely given to children anymore, and it is only now that I appreciate how important it truly is. “Racing Stripes” sends the same message – and it’s a powerful one that kids need to hear today, because it takes an awful lot of guts to succeed.

The film also shows us the importance of fathers. In the wake of dozens of films (“About a Boy,” “Hearts in Atlantis,” “In Good Company,” to name just a fraction) that show just how desperate people become without a father, “Racing Stripes” demonstrates how vital dads are to our wellbeing. As Nolan, Greenwood is fabulous (and definitely underrated as an actor). Here, he demonstrates with winsome appeal how a father’s love can help a child to overcome even the greatest of tragedies, as well as lead her to her dream.

A lovely movie that everyone but the most cynical will enjoy.

AUDIENCE:  All ages – but especially geared toward children 12 and under.

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT:

  • Drugs/Alcohol Content:   A character holds a glass of champagne in one scene.
  • Language/Profanity:    None. A character almost calls another one a mildly obscene name but is cut off by her father’s rebuke; an animal almost uses a mild obscenity but is cut off by another animal’s “baaaa.” One character experiences and jokes about his flatulence throughout film.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:    None.
  • Violence:      A posse of horses surround a zebra, threaten him and appear to jump on him before he passes out; same posse “kidnaps” another horse and holds her “hostage;” an animal brags about being a hit man and “offing” other animals for pay, as well as various mob-style comments, like asking another animal about being in prison/jail.