A Secret Publicity Stunt?
Rat Race
Review by Ross Anthony

Something smelled mousy about this film, maybe it's the word "Rat" in the title, maybe it's the delayed release, or maybe it's the cheesy genre of crazy race film - you know, "It's a Madx4 World," "Cannonball Run." Whatever the reason, I sat down in the theater expecting a bomb, a rat trap if you will. Fortunately, this bomb exploded in my face with non-stop humor (albeit corny sight gags, and contrived contusions).

And the pace, what a pace! From beginning to end, with only one exception the film doesn't take a break. We follow six parties as they race from Las Vegas to New Mexico. Their stories bump, grind and intertwine.

Oh there's also some twisted humor by way of mouth. Mr. Bean enters the penthouse doing a silly sort of Peter Sellers/Roberto Benigni impression, "This room is magnificent -- did you see this room?" he asks to those already seated at the table. "Yes, we're in it!" they shake their heads at him.

John Cleese (the big cheese of a gambling casino) sets these six unrelated slot winners on a world-win spin for a purse of 2 million bucks while his fellow millionaires bet even bigger dollars on this competitive bunch of knuckleheads. "A horse race with animals that can think, plan and cheat!"

Goofy, yes; silly, yes; but funny-bone jarring hilarious all the way up to near the end, where one contrivance too many sets the film on a 3 minute excursion from the fun. But with a fairly satisfying and well-filmed climax, all is forgiven. This audience of critics was rolling in the aisles.

I know I'll take some flack for this, but I'm giving "Rat Race" a solid "A" for good old fashion fun. The monster truck and Adolph Hitler scenes (to name just two) will crack you up!

All perform well, with some excellent timing execution in direction and screenwriting that will no doubt go unappreciated. This is a tricky film to do well. Bravo. (Italian Operatic music for a fouled balloon chase - nice touch.) From the cute title animations to the stage diving ending (Cuba gots some moves) you'll be tickled pink.

  • Rat Race. Copyright © 2001. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart.
  • Directed by Jerry Zucker.
  • Written by Andy Breckman.
  • Produced by Jerry Zucker and Janet Zucker and Sean Daniel at Fireworks/Paramount.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:55:25 PDT