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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.