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RACING STRIPES

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If I were Babe, the porcine hero of the 1995 hit family film, I'd send my lawyer to Frederick du Chau's new feature about a pretty farm harboring a talking animal that dares to be different. This tale about a plucky zebra that pines to be a racehorse features a few humans, including a trainer (Bruce Greenwood) and a winsome teen (Hayden Panettiere) -- as well as a whole barn of animals that speak to each other through computer-generated mouth action. A large crew of mostly B-list actors provides the voices, and with little imaginative casting: Snoop Dogg is the dog, Joe Pantoliano is the mobster pelican, David Spade is an annoying fly. The story is predictable; the jokes so-so. Worst of all, horses -- and by extension, any zebra -- naturally have quite wooden facial features rendering a lot of the drama visually flat. Yet, I reckon as inspirational talking-zebra movies go, you won't find a better one. Starts Fri., Jan. 14.

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