Rat Race

"Weak"

Rat Race Review


After a generation on hiatus, the crazy, ensemble-cast chase comedy is back with an MTV vengeance in "Rat Race," a cornball marathon between a dozen second-tier stars vying for a $2 million booty.

The gimmick: To entertain his high-rolling clientele, a Las Vegas hotelier -- played by John Cleese with a slightly insane, toothy-dentured grin -- recruits an oddball assortment of zealous casino tourists to dash across the desert to New Mexico in search of a bus station locker where the loot has been stashed. The runners think it's all a zany promotion for Cleese's resort, but in the penthouse billionaires from all over the world are placing high-stakes bets on who will get there first, just for rich-guy kicks.

The players: Jon Lovitz is an chintzy, unemployed soccer dad who red-lines his minivan while dragging his family along, on the pretense of a job offer so he doesn't get chewed out for ruining their vacation. He catches hell anyway when the car breaks down outside a "white power" roadside attraction and they steal Hitler's limo to complete the pilgrimage.

Seth Green (Scott Evil in "Austin Powers") and Vince Vieluf ("Clay Pigeons") play dumb-and-dumber brothers who figure winning $2 million is just as good as their original plan to fake an accident at the hotel and sue for damages. Whoopi Goldberg and Lanai Chapman are a just-reunited mother and daughter who drive each other crazy getting lost on backroads shortcuts recommended by loopy local yokels.

Disgraced NFL referee Cuba Gooding, Jr. hijacks a tour bus full of Lucille Ball imitators -- who, of course, stay in character no matter what the circumstances. And straight arrow Breckin Meyer ("Josie and the Pussycats," "Go") who at first pooh-poohs participating in the insanity, thinks he's got it made when he meets a pretty helicopter pilot (Amy Smart) who happens to be going to New Mexico anyway.

Hijinks, slapstick and sabotage ensue, with very mixed results. Like the genre templates from which it's cloned -- 1981's "Cannonball Run" and 1963's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" -- "Rat Race" just indiscriminately throws every conceivable sight gag, road trip antic, fart joke, sex lark and motor vehicle monkeyshine at the screen without refinement, hoping some of it will stick. The hit-to-miss ratio is about one to five.

With a handful of downright hilarious moments, another dozen chuckles and about 60 dead-on-arrival comedic misfires, "Rat Race" is the kind of movie you try hard to enjoy but end up wishing it were a lot better.

When director and former screwball specialist Jerry Zucker ("Airplane!," "Top Secret!") spends a little time planning well-conceived set pieces, he often gets great grins. I turned blue from laughing at Green and Vieluf desperately clawing and climbing over each other, in slow-motion, to get out of their stalled car as a monster truck bore down on them after they accidentally drove into the middle of a daredevil show. I guarantee you'd guffaw at the running gag of side-bets made by the bored billionaires as they wait for the race to get exciting. (How long can a hotel maid hang from a curtain rod? Which of them will barf first when Cleese's private jet hits turbulence?)

But the balance of the contrived and mechanical comedy is flatly staged, under-scripted and obnoxiously over-improvised by actors who aren't really up to that sort of thing. Most obnoxious of all is British comic Rowan Atkinson, adding a little narcoleptic Italian to his stale "Mr. Bean" routine.

The escapades that do fly in "Rat Race" are so funny they're almost worth the price of a matinee admission. If it's a hot day and you're looking for air-conditioned entertainment, you could do worse. But the movie is too sloppy and inconsistent to recommend with any integrity. When it's obvious the actors are having more fun than the audience, something's definitely amiss.



Rat Race

Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th August 2001

Box Office USA: $55.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $85.5M

Budget: $48M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 71

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr. as Owen Templeton, as Duane Cody, as Vera Baker, as Nick Schaffer, as Tracy Faucet, as Donald P. Sinclair, as Zack Mallozzi, as Blaine Cody, Lanei Chapman as Merrill Jennings, as Randy Pear, as Beverly Pear, as Enrico Pollini, as Harold Grisham, as Gus the Cabbie, as Shawn Kent, Brandy Ledford as Vicky, as Lloyd, as Herself, as The Squirrel Lady, as Rainbow House Nurse

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.