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If you've seen the trailer for this movie, you're probably thinking it
looks hilarious and you've made a mental note that it's one you don't want
to miss. More often than not, however, the funniest stuff is in the
previews, and when you see the whole movie it's a let-down. But I'm here
tell you, that is decidedly NOT the case with `Rat Race,' directed by
Zucker, and furthermore, make a mental note: This movie is hilarious, and
one you DO NOT want to miss. In the tradition of Stanley Kramer's 1963
comedy hit, `It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,' this one is exactly what it
is supposed to be-- Fun (yes, with a capital `F'), and Funny-- with one
laugh after another that just keep on a-comin'.
Las Vegas casino owner Donald Sinclair (John Cleese), likes to offer his elite customers-- the `high rollers'-- something they can't get anywhere else, in the form of things they can gamble on that are so bizarre you can only imagine. And the big one he comes up with this time begins with the planting of six lucky tokens in his slot machines. Those who win the tokens are invited to attend a meeting, at which time Sinclair announces that they are to be the lucky participants in a `race' of sorts. In a train station locker in the small town of Silver City, New Mexico, there is $2,000,000 waiting for whomever gets to it first. He passes out six identical keys to the token bearers that will open the locker, shouts `Go!' and they're off! And Sinclair's high rollers proceed to put down some big bucks on their favorite horse-- uh, dog!-- uh-- Well, you get the idea...
The participants include Nick (Breckin Meyer), who is pretty much just a regular guy; NFL referee Owen Templeton (Cuba Gooding Jr.), hated by millions because of a recent botched call; brothers Duane and Blaine Cody (Seth Green, Vince Vieluf), not the brightest bulbs to begin with, and hampered in their communications by Blaine's newly pierced tongue; a mother, Vera (Whoopi Goldberg), and the daughter she gave up for adoption and with whom she has just reunited, Merrill (Lanei Chapman); Randy Pear (Jon Lovitz), who has a hard time making his wife, Bev (Kathy Najimy), and their two kids, Kimberly (Jillian Marie) and Jason (Brody Smith) understand why he's interrupted their Vegas vacation to drag them off suddenly to New Mexico; and-- last but not least-- Enrico Pollini (Rowan Atkinson), a narcoleptic Italian. It's quite the eclectic bunch, and they definitely put on quite a show.
During the rush for the gold, they encounter a number of people and situations that drive the laugh meter through the roof, including: A woman (Kathy Bates) selling squirrels by the roadside (Vera and Merrill); a group of `Lucy' impersonators on their way to some kind of Lucy convention (Owen); a `Barbie' museum that isn't what it seems, and not a great place for the Jewish Pear family to visit; an errant cow, a hot air balloon and a guy who overhears too much (Duane and Blaine); a jealous helicopter pilot named Tracy (Amy Smart), who buzzes her boyfriend's house at a most inopportune time (Nick); an ambulance driver, Zack (Wayne Knight), who is transporting a human heart for a transplant, and suffers something akin to the same fate as that famous `cat' due to his curiosity (Enrico). Zucker and writer Andy Breckman pulled out all the stops with this one, and the result (and there's much, much, MUCH more than what's mentioned here) is some pretty wild stuff.
The secret to making this all work, is above all to keep it moving-- and Zucker certainly does that. He relies heavily on sight gags and slapstick, and knows how to set up the schtick for a real payoff, which he succeeds at time and again throughout the entire film. it's all fairly controlled insanity, and with a couple of exceptions when Zucker wanders into Jim Carrey/Farrelly Brothers territory, it's pretty easy to swallow. Most importantly, IT'S FUNNY! with enough different kinds of humor thrown in to satisfy just about any taste. And that's a rare thing to be said of any comedy, and it's a big part of why this one's such a gem.
The cast is superb, but the highlights have to be Cuba Gooding Jr., who demonstrates a real knack for comedy; John Cleese, who can make you laugh just by smiling, brandishing as he does a spectacular set of teeth; and Rowan Atkinson, who does some masterful bits of physical comedy, the likes of which rivals the best of Peter Sellers and Buster Keaton. The way he mugs and moves is absolutely hysterical.
The supporting cast includes Gloria Allred (Herself), Dave Thomas (Mr. Grisham), Dean Cain (Shawn), Paul Rodriguez (Gus), Brandy Ledford (Vicky), Tristin Leffler (Pierced Girl) and Andrew Kavovit. One that lives up to it's expectations and more, `Rat Race' is everything you want it to be, a laugh a minute movie that never lets up, and one that won't wear your brain out making you think about it too much. This is pure entertainment that'll lead you down the road to riot (make that `laugh' riot). There hasn't been anything quite like this since Jimmy Durante kicked that bucket and started that other bunch of madcaps off looking for `The big 'dub-a-yeh'.' Zucker and his gang really pulled this one off, and moreover, they did it with style. And that's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 8/10.
RAT RACE / (2001) *** (out of four
"Rat Race" revives a genre Hollywood has neglected since the sixties: the big event, ensemble chase comedy. Who better to breathe life into the subject than Jerry Zucker, the mastermind behind the "Naked Gun" films, and "Airplane," two of the most hilarious movies I have seen. After years of directing straight dramas, Zucker says he is thrilled to be back doing comedy. "It's very visual and there are lots of big visual stunts," Zucker explains in the film's production notes, "kind of a James Bond comedy in a way because there are so many sight gags."
Good comparison-"Race Race" is indeed a visual comedy. Its laugh-a-minute attitude works for the creative situations. The audience does not necessarily laugh at every single joke the movie throws, but the humor is timed well. "Rat Race" also contains a terrific cast and provides enough laughs to be worthy of at least one viewing.
John Cleese stars as the eccentric Las Vegas casino tycoon named Donald Sinclair. He wants to keep his wealthy, high stakes gamblers interested in his gambling techniques so he arranges a new, quasi-legal sporting event for them to bet on: a human rat race.
Sinclair randomly places six golden coins in several different slot machines. The customer service sends the winners to a large banquet room where the characters learn of a two million dollar jackpot resting in a duffel bag, inside a locker, within the city of Silver City, New Mexico-seven hundred miles away. The fist one there keeps all of the money, tax-free. " the odds of winning are one and six " explains Sinclair. "There's only one rule: there are no rules!" The players include a vast variety of different characters. There is Vera Baker (Whoopi Goldberg), who, after giving her child up for adoption as a baby, has decided to meet her daughter, Merrill (Lanai Chapman). Owen Temleton (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), an NFL coach who recently blew an important game, has come to the sin city to forget his horrendous mistake. Mr. Pollini (Rowan Akinson from "Bean") is an exuberantly cheerful, but narcoleptic, Italian fellow. Randy Pear (Jon Lovitz), and his family is vacationing when he slips off to play slots and wins the chance of a lifetime. The Cody brothers (Seth Green and Vince Vieluf), are first to cause trouble in any crowd. Finally, Nick (Breckin Meyer) a skeptical young lawyer-in-training, meets a charming young woman (Amy Smart), and encounters plenty of adventures with her.
"Rat Race" offers plenty of hit and miss humor. Much of it misses, but much of it hits the mark as well. The majority of the humor is physical and exaggerated. Very little offers sharp, witty satire on any part of culture. The film says something about greed in a zany sort of way, but for the most part this is just a two hour laugh riot, nothing more, nothing less.
However, this is a tricky script to write, and for the overall result to provide this much effective comic material, Andrew Breckman's ingenious script is indeed successful. It's not easy writing a comedy like this, and Breckman does indeed run into a few problems in the overcrowded plot. Even more difficult is creating a conclusion for a story like this. No matter how you end it, you are certain to displease at least some audience members. Breckman has found a way to have his cake and eat it too. I would never dream of revealing how this race concludes itself, but I will say it is not exceedingly satisfying, but sure does work over the obvious other possibilities.
"Rat Race" is one of the funniest movies of the year. It's energetic, irrelevant, and entertaining. You are sure to have a decent time.
From a point of view it is not convenient to give a very high mark to a
movie like this, but I believe that movies have to be rated in
different categories. So it could happen that such a movie receives a
greater mark than a movie from a different category, which by the way
has a greater artistic value.
Anyway, if you like non-sense movies with absurd scenes, this is for you. The movie succeeds without clever jokes, with its hilarious scenes to make fun of the greedy or the "don't know how to spend their money" people. One absurd scene follows the other, and if you like such humor you will soon find yourself convulsed with laughter. Sometimes it may appear forced, but this is a characteristic for the genre. If you just want a fun and action packed movie, this is a very good choice.
AIRPLANE! crashes into MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD!
Duck and cover. The antics are silly, but they come at you fast and furious -- a transvestile Lucy (in a whole bunch of Lucys), squirrels, cows, balloons, a dead dog, a heart transplant, car wrecks, bowel movements, a bullet train, and much much more.
It's slapstick and double take time in this zany comedy about human greed and just plain old stupidity. The story line gets pretty ragged at times but it is funny. And it even has a message.
If you want to lose yourself for two hours in a nutty comedy, this is a good bet.
From start to finish, it's all laughs. The movie is meant to be wacky and to be really taken seriously. I especially love the part when Jon Lovitz looks like Hitler. It's one of the best popcorn comedies of 2001. Just sit back and have fun. B+, 8/10
This movie, for those of you old enough to remember it, will see the similarities to the old Spencer Tracy "It's a Mad Mad Mad World..." But this is a great time for the whole family. It includes a star studded cast, and the typical comedic gags that we have to expect where one of the Zucker boys is involved. One of the greatest things about this movie on DVD vs. seeing it at the theater is the outtake section on the DVD. I am a sucker for outtakes anyway, but once you've seen this film, and then watch this section, it is all the funnier! I also thought this was a great vehicle for certain members of the cast to do show their comedic abilities. Enjoy the film
I have seen Rat Race about 50 times, and it still packs the same punch for me that it did on view number 1. I absolutely love the stellar cast, which is highlighted by the performances of Rowan Atkinson, John Lovitz, and Whoopi Goldberg. Bringing many comedy stars together under one roof hasn't been done often enough. It did happen in Mars Attacks, which turned out to be a total waste of time and was and absolutely horrible movie. In this case however, the actors/actresses aren't awkwardly stuck into their roles, they all sink into very unique characters who each have a story to tell. Rat Race is a hilarious comedy that everyone should see, I have never met anyone who didn't like it. If you have nothing to do on a Saturday Night, you will enjoy this one for sure!
I laughed throughout this comic masterpiece and so did everyone with me, who
ranged in age from 60 to 12 (I am somewhere in between).
There is not a lot to say except that there are hits and misses and the misses far outweigh the jokes that are flat. Its just a lot of fun and I really liked the ending, which seems to have generated unfair critcism - it was the perfect way to end the movie.
I plan to see it at least three more times while it is in theatres, hopefully to take other people to see it. It really is that good and I want to support this throwback comedy while it is still playing (it didn't exactly set the box office on fire on its opening weekend).
Out and out laughs, a great time at the movies..who can ask for more?
After seeing the first trailer for this film, I thought
it would too hokey for my tastes. However, like has happened on many other occasions, I was surprised by the humor in the film. While the principal characters were important in the movie, why didn't Wayne Knight get any billing? He's probably one of the best overweight actors since John Candy, and this guy can't get any work!? He was the only good reason to watch Seinfeld. Anyway, I felt this movie was quite a departure for some actors, and a great one for those who have made a movie such as this before. Jon Lovitz was excellent in this film, along with Mr. Bean (or Rowan Atkinson as he is called by non-Mr. Bean fans, who must be a sad group of people). The only downside to this film was the ending, which had yet another bad song by Smashmouth (and it was All-Star once again!). Overall, a good movie.
I haven't seen "It's a Mad ... etc. World" (is it four Mads or five? I can
never remember), so it's not fair to make comparisons - but the changes I
know about sound as though they're improvements. The sum of money in the
original film was $350 000; this time it's $2 million, which (adjusting for
inflation) is considerably less. In the original the money was a
fifteen-year-old buried treasure; here, it's just money. An eccentric
squillionaire has put it in a locker without explanation. WE get an
explanation, of sorts, but the racers do not - so there is no romance
attached to the prize, which means that all of their actions are PURE
expressions of greed. (John Cleese is the squillionaire, and while his
cameo in "The World Is Not Enough" proved that he could, with the right
material, fail to be funny, he and his coterie of wealthy compulsive
gamblers are hilarious here. It's good counterpoint humour, since they're
actually the least greedy, most disinterested people involved in the
A criticism levelled at the original was that innocent, well-meaning bystanders got hurt - that it was meant to be a joke when their property was destroyed, but the joke wasn't funny. "Rat Race" avoids being open to the same charge by making the world an even more venal one. The ambulance-chasing lawyer, the live organ courier, the quirky roadside squirrel-seller, the key-cutter, the garage mechanic, the neo-Nazis, the vengeful taxi driver ... all these people have less attractive personalities than any of the racers. Only a few of them are punished, but among them are the only outsiders to be punished at all. (With the exception, I'll admit, of people we never see, like the anonymous owners of cars that are run over in the parking lot.)
Whoopi Goldberg plays it straight, which suits her. I can't fault the acting anywhere, but I do wish that Rowan Atkinson hadn't been cast as the loopy, dim-witted Italian (I can't see this picture playing in Italy at all). To be sure, he brings the role off, and he's the only person who could have done so - but he would have been funnier if he'd been allowed to be more intelligent, to have a little more rat cunning hiding beneath the surface. (For half a second, he DOES exhibit cunning: it's by far his funniest moment.)
All scenes before the race is announced fall flat. Timing and motivation just weren't there, and I even wondered afterwards if Zucker had handed his establishing scenes to an ungifted underling. But I don't want to carp at a funny film by saying it could have been funnier. Things pick up considerably as soon as John Cleese outlines the central premise; from then on the film is never less than inventive, and even if (for some reason) you don't find it funny, you must admit that those involved at least had the right IDEA about comedy.
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