Rat Race
Dir: Jerry Zucker
Star: John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Jon Lovitz, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green
Cert / Year: 12A - PG13 / 2003
Format: Video

Donald P Sinclair (John Cleese) is an eccentric millionaire who has just picked six losers from the punters in his casino to take part in a race from Las Vegas to Silver City, New Mexico. There Two million dollars is waiting for whoever reaches it first. There is only rule, and that is there are no rules. This leads to a race like no other featuring as it does a rocket car, a busload of Lucille Balls, Hitler's limo, and a cow in a hot air balloon!

Ok so we are firmly in It's a mad mad mad mad world territory here. Does it matter? Not a jot. This isn't a remake, its a new film with new laughs, and what's more is its darn funny. Not since the Cannonball Run has there been such vehicle inspired lunacy.

There are two reasons why the film is so funny. First off is the excellent cast With a scene stealing turn from Rowan Atkinson in a maniacally happy Mr Bean sort of way. Its just a shame he isn't in it more. Second in order of comic genius ever brilliant John Cleese, and while is part isn't that big (and he struggles with the false teeth) his mere presence is enough to guarantee laughs. Next in order of hilarity is Jon Lovitz who plays a sort of Clark Grizwald gone bad. His explanation to the WW2 vetrans as to why he is driving Hitler's car is just precious. Seth Green and Vince Vieluf play a pair of idiot brothers and they get some of the funniest situations. Amy Smart puts in a good turn as a pilot with anger management problems, but she is partnered with the rather lack lustre Breckin Meyer. Rounding off the racers is the ever reliable Whoopi Goldberg who is partnered with Lanei Chapman and while both are good, their characters are never that well to developed. Overall though this is a fine selection of good comic actors.

The other major plus is the brilliant set pieces in the script. Helicopters, trains, Rocket cars, Hitler's limo, a bus full of Lucille Ball's and a hot air balloon with a cow in it do add up to some major belly laughs. What's more impressive is that the way these scenes are built up and sewn together. This isn't clever intellectual humour this is slapstick at its best. Things are a little bit of a slow start but as the contestants take ever more desperate measures to ensure victory there is no stopping. The laughs then come thick and fast, the pace never lets up. It's simple and it works, well up to a point.

And that point comes about ten minutes from the end of the film. There are only two ways the ending for a film like this can work. The first is that someone wins. This is a problem as you then have to vilify the other contestants. The second is that no one wins. This is often the best solution as long as you come up with a clever and funny way to do it. Here the ending is neither clever nor funny. It is sickly sweet and features a useless cameo from a trendy pop band. I can't tell you how disappointing and awful this ending is, it really puts a dampner on the film.

Ignoring the abysmal ending Rat Race is a very good comedy. It has some major laughs, and they are delivered by a great cast. John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson are the funniest talents on show and maybe should have had a little more to do, but as it stands the whole thing rocks along very nicely. Look out for fine cameos from Kathy Bates and Wayne Knight, and some fine comic direction from Jerry Zucker (one third of the Airplane creators). This really is a funny film, just who the hell tacked on that terrible ending.


563 miles. 9 people. $2 million. 1001 problems!


Enrico Pollini I'm in a race!

Donald Sinclair: I can do whatever I want. I'm eccentric. Grr!

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home