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July 2002                                                         SITE MAP   SEARCH
Rat Race
cast: Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Seth Green

director: Jerry Zucker

107 minutes (12) 2001
Pathé VHS rental
[released 15 July]

RATING: 3/10
reviewed by Ian Shutter
This screwball comedy is a road movie in the manner of The Cannonball Run remixed by the gasping-for-air, dunno-whether-to-laugh-or-cry mentality of those guys who made the Airplane and Naked Gun pictures. John Cleese (with a set of improbably goofy teeth) plays wealthy eccentric Donald Sinclair, who puts $2 million prize money up for grabs to a seemingly random bunch of greedy Las Vegas visitors. He's stashed the cash in a luggage locker down in New Mexico and given each of the various contestants a key. First one to get there will be rich. Go!
   Not surprisingly, the casino crowd are disbelieving at first - their reluctance to hit the road providing the only really tense moment. But it doesn't take them too long to realise that time's-a-wasting. Then all the cheating, lying, and betraying starts, and normality succumbs to a chaotic comedy of madcap stunts, ridiculous sitcom routines, raucous yelling and screaming, and many not very funny turns.
   The chasers use almost every kind of vehicle, from cars and trucks to a hot air balloon and a helicopter, while they plot to sabotage their rivals' plans. Silly gags about a lost donor heart from a medical van, a stolen rocket car and hijacked land speed record attempt, a busload of I Love Lucy fans, a Jewish family's visit to the Nazi museum (as you may expect from this director, the sick and tasteless jokes are often the funniest), a pickup truck hauled up an airport radar tower, the flying cow and other dumb scenes provide a string of wacky stunts and, occasionally, some genuinely amusing stuff. However, the most fun to be had from this mostly disappointing farrago, concerns the antics of Cleese's other gambling enterprise where a mob of already filthy rich casino patrons place bets on everything from curtain-climbing waitresses, pricing of perverse sexual acts by a hooker (Brandy Ledford), and first case of airsickness on a private jet.
   Over-the-limit inebriation is strongly recommended for all viewers who expect to get through this one safely.
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