RACING STRIPES: A cute zebra foal gets separated from his circus and is adopted by a horse trainer (Bruce Greenwood) in this live action, talking animal tale. Stripes (voiced by Frankie Muniz) becomes adopted by the trainer's tomboy daughter (Hayden Panettiere)--an aspiring jockey--who subsequently wants to race him in the big leagues. Setbacks include her dad's over-protectiveness (he lost her mom in a horse-racing accident), and the fact that Stripes is a zebra and not a normal horse. Though all the other thoroughbreds turn their noses at this odd-looking interloper, a wizened old pony (Dustin Hoffman) steps in as trainer, and it's time to start prepping for the big race. Other animal characters include a mob "hit-pelican" (voice of Joe Pantoliano), a nurturing goat (voice of Whoopi Goldberg), a rooster (voice of Jeff Foxworthy), and a hound (Snoop Dogg). Mandy Moore does the voice of Stripes' comely mare love interest. Steve Harvey and David Spade are a pair of trash-talking horseflies. Adults will cherish some sly references to older movies, while the kids should get a lot out of the mix of real animals, nonstop gags, and an uplifting message about the importance of not judging a horse by its stripes. Though set in Kentucky, the film was actually lensed in South Africa, with real zebras. M. Emmet Walsh is a welcome addition as a loveable old codger and Wendie Malick is the evil race track owner.
MY DOG SKIP: A heartwarming coming-of-age tale set in 1940s Yazoo, Mississippi. Willie Morris (Muniz) is an introverted eight-year-old whose best friend is Dink Jenkins (Wilson - BOTTLE ROCKET), a high school football star. Willie's mother convinces his stern father to buy Willie a puppy for his ninth birthday, in light of the fact that Dink has left Yazoo to fight in the war. Immediately, Willie's world brightens. When he stumbles upon a team of evil bootleggers and welcomes home a despondent Dink, he must learn a very valuable lesson about life. Based on Morris' memoir, MY DOG SKIP should have even the most hardened viewer reaching for the tissues.