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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.31%
Worth A Look: 17.69%
Pretty Bad: 14.62%
Total Crap: 14.62%

7 reviews, 88 user ratings

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Rat Race
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"The line is busy."
2 stars

Rat Race: It’s no home-run, but it is a bit of a pop-fly that happens to land in the outfield, after an attempt for—if not the HR—then definitely something in the infield.

The Jerry Zucker-directed bowl of highjinks is said to be inspired by It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Cannonball Run and their ilk, which in terms of zany madness, appropriately finds itself somewhere on the ZAZ homefield. However, the only rep on homeplate is Z (producing relative Janet Zucker doesn’t count), and so the team is already handicapped. What happens when a casino owner and his worldwide-stretching clientele bet on which out of a piss-poor group of six minor-leaguers can get to $2-million first? Supposedly, Rat Race. Six main characters—most with at least one running-mate—must travel by any means from the Vegas casino to Silver City, New Mexico and get there first to claim the prize money. We’re talking planes, trains and automobiles, and if that doesn’t work, whatever is laid in front of them. John Cleese, as the owner of the casino, along with his cohorts bet on any number of “challenges” or “competitions” in the interim, whether it be what cleaning maid can hang onto the curtain railing longest, or how much a hooker would charge Dave Thomas to take a bath in champagne, while he clips his toenails and she shaves his ass, or which gambler will upchuck on the bumpy plane ride first, etc. Then of course, there are the characters themselves: two youthy delinquents, one a scammer, one with a bad case of do-it-yourself tongue piercing; a corpulent husband and wife with their two corpulent kids; a newly reunited mother and daughter; an infamous NFL referee and his busload of imitation I Love Lucys; a narcoleptic nutcase and a heart transplant driver who hit him; and a by-the-book lawyer-in-training who stumbles onto a knock-out but whacked-out blonde. Having no roots in reality, the movie is able to have complete control over comedic convenience, so that it has the ability to slapstick-ize something small per se, as given away in the previews, when Amy Smart charges her helicopter into a nose-dive to seek revenge on her cheating boyfriend. But as well, it takes liberties with extremities of the other end, such as having the doltish brothers end up with their vehicle towed up a flight tower, therefore eliminating planes as a form of transportation. For as many characters as there are, they are not very fleshy, nor are they very likable, which when in an ensemble such as Rat Race is, it a) makes following the characters less compelling and less interesting, and b) by having so many of them—not just the initial six, but all of their counterparts and relations—you tend to fall prey to forgetting about them. Not enough time is spent with these characters who are briefly picked up, only to be dropped off and replaced for the next to ensure maximum laugh potential. It becomes a case that when a pair of them turns up after a lengthy screen absence, you think, ‘oh yeah, I forgot they were (still) a part of this.’ In the first place, I think it’s a mistake to treat them all like main characters, at least in the time frame provided, and at least without spending more time, quality time, with them (not that it would have made certain characters more appealing by doing so). As would be expected, who I found to be the most interesting of the bunch, not to mention that the actors are probably the most talented, they are never around enough or at the right time. Whoopi Goldberg and Lanai Chapman’s team are to me the most winsome and entertaining of the bunch, but they’re put on the back-burner too much to weasel out the most amount of gags elsewhere. Of the better choices, at least we are given acceptable dosages of Jon Lovitz and company, putting up with his aggravating children (the daughter has to go Number 2 while on the road, and unable to hold it refers to it as “prairie dogging”) or his ditzy wife, who hilariously end up driving in Nazi paraphernalia. There are laughs throughout, but the best ones are far spread out from each other; they come too intermittently and inconsistently to hold this salmagundi from erupting with a bland, conventional and combative flavor that continuously knocks each other down leaving (literally) no one victorious at the end. So for every successful method of madness (traveling at the speed of a bullet, busting into a WWII convention with a lipstick-smeared Hitler moustache, etc.), there is an innumerable amount that bellyflop. Most of the comedic talents are not well-applied (Goldberg especially shines with what she’s given, but isn’t given nearly enough), but the two who fare best in terms of talent and room are Lovitz and newcomer Chapman. Whatever form you are used to with Lovitz, he fills appropriately and funnily, but Chapman is the real surprise, or treat actually, an actresses gifted not only in looks and talent, but most impressingly, a strong and powerful diction. (Listen to her as she asks for directions to “the interstate”—that clear and directive annunciation, it gives me chills!) David Mamet had better get a hold of this talent, for what a sound and voice she would provide in accompaniment of his rhythmic dialogue. The bases were certainly loaded, but with such lackluster pitching statistics, it’s no surprise to see this dwindling out of steam before the ninth inning.

With Cuba Gooding, Jr., Rowan Atkinson, Kathy Najimy, Breckin Meyer, Wayne Knight, Seth Green, and Vince Vieluf, with cameos by Kathy Bates and Dean Cain. Written by Andy Breckman.

Final Verdict: C-.

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originally posted: 09/17/01 13:20:54
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User Comments

7/25/09 Jeff Wilder An okay screwball comedy. 3 stars
11/02/08 Samantha Pruitt pretty funny, all the great story lines are great! 4 stars
12/31/06 kitfo a waste of comic talent. you can see most of these jokes coming from a mile off. 2 stars
11/28/06 Dan Surprisingly entertaining. Better than 85% of the crap pumped out these days 4 stars
10/03/06 Jeremy Davies Great entertainment 4 stars
9/04/06 David Pollastrini John Cleese is great in this. 3 stars
8/26/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen Surprisingly funny here and there 4 stars
8/01/06 David Cohen A rip off of "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World" with 1/8 the humor 3 stars
5/26/06 Jeff Anderson Yes the Smashmouth finale was a cheap waste, but the rest was funny. Lovitz is a SCREAM! 4 stars
3/09/06 Dk Good comedy 3 stars
2/09/06 JM Synth "Hey, Look It's Smashmouth!". Nuff Said. Rest of film is crap as well 1 stars
12/30/05 chris f not bad 4 stars
9/12/05 Total Crap Hi-fucking-larious! But Smashmouth killed it at the end. GODDAMNIT! 2 stars
9/01/05 Dirk For those who like humor on the level of "smell my finger" this movie ROCKS 5 stars
8/31/05 ES some very funny scenes in an otherwise lazy movie 3 stars
7/10/05 DM Actually pretty funny (Rowan Atkinson is great.) 4 stars
6/29/05 darick Most of film= 4 stars, Ending (one of the worst I've ever seen)= 1 f****** star 3 stars
6/08/05 JD If you're bored and nothing else is on worth a look. 3 stars
2/19/05 clinger26 yes!!!!!! Ive been waiting for something like this 5 stars
1/25/05 Gray funny (hate Smashmouth though) 5 stars
9/22/04 Al Guy It had some laughs, but not the best I've seen. 4 stars
9/05/04 jmsynth Any film with a fucking Smashmouth concert as a grand finale cant be too good 2 stars
7/26/04 Katie I was laughing SO much watching this movie! 5 stars
6/20/04 Tim Airport radar and squirrel scene hilarious and few other funny bits but not fluent. 3 stars
6/01/04 Nobody Without Rown Atkinson, 4 stars. With Rowan Atkinson, 1 star 1 stars
4/09/04 Daveman The scenes with John Cleese in are hilarious, the rest of the film is wank. 2 stars
2/22/04 Ingo O what a piece of unnerving sh*t 2 stars
12/23/03 Littlepurch Brilliant! Y does it get such bad reviews. Reviewers don't have a clue!!! 5 stars
12/18/03 alien assassin not as funny as "It's a mad mad mad World" but still offers plenty of laughs 4 stars
10/30/03 Moparman Lots of funny moments in this movie!! 4 stars
10/19/03 Frank Andrew Thompson (FAT) If you have any sense of humour you'll like this movie! 4 stars
8/13/03 Double G funny 5 stars
8/07/03 Marc Ian Very funny ! (5 stars) :) 5 stars
6/24/03 Jack Sommersby A few laughs, but they're few and far between. Underwhelming cast, too. 2 stars
5/13/03 cinkcool funny 5 stars
4/18/03 Andrew Carden Occasionally Unfunny Airplane-Type Comedy...With Bad Ensemble and Bad Screenplay 2 stars
1/01/03 John Aster Habig great cast, good plot, mixed script 4 stars
10/20/02 St. Clair The only really funny part was the slo-mo escape scene with Seth Green & his bro. Hilarious 4 stars
10/07/02 Arsehole Man, if you have the ability to laugh at life... see this movie. You'll enjoy it. 5 stars
8/05/02 David Thorman I couldn't help but be fascinated by Rowan Atkinson's abysmal performance. 1 stars
6/19/02 Bada Bing Crosby 90% of it hilarious! Take the stick outta yer ass & LAUGH 5 stars
6/17/02 y0rt Good stuff 5 stars
6/06/02 The Bomb 69 No Airplane, but some truly funny parts in between some misses 3 stars
5/22/02 officer 412/l well,it's no airplane. but when it's funny,it's pretty damm hilarious. 4 stars
4/26/02 Jeff Lecky Anyone who enjoys this movie is an arsehole! 1 stars
4/25/02 lauren mccreight about as funny as "Dude, Where's My Car?".....i wish there was a rating below "Total Crap"! 1 stars
4/21/02 Dave MacDougall the best part about it was when it ended... 1 stars
4/20/02 stoolie-bird showed me a new level of boring..... 1 stars
3/31/02 NWO4LIFE Uneven, but fun farce. The was lacking, though. 4 stars
3/29/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) Hilarious. 4 stars
2/18/02 Monday Morning Just sit back and enjoy it, you discarded douchebags. 4 stars
2/05/02 specialK worst film i've ever seen. i am still angry 1 stars
2/04/02 Glip Seriously, my parents laughed at this movie, if they found it funny, anyone will 5 stars
2/03/02 Spyguy2 So bad I couldn't turn away then found myself liking it until the end 'cus Smashmouth sux 3 stars
1/23/02 Sparky Polastri Hey get that stick outta your ASS! Boy if you hate this movie I pity you 5 stars
1/17/02 J. I didn't laugh ONCE throughout this drek. Mindless films suit their mindless audiences. 1 stars
1/16/02 David A. One Big Bore 1 stars
1/09/02 Michael This movie is hilarious! 5 stars
1/09/02 Jimbo Good slapstick stuff & funny....maybe a bit too long though 4 stars
1/05/02 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Another kick ass movie by the kick ass people at Hollywood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/30/01 sarafina This movie. Made me want to kill, rape and plunder the inhabitants of the neighborhood 1 stars
12/15/01 Ian Barr Funny. Nothing else, just funny. 4 stars
10/09/01 Joe Blowme Great stinking movie!! 5 stars
10/08/01 Destruction Worker I can do anything I want... I'm eccentric!! 5 stars
10/04/01 Bada Bing Crosby A riot; loved it! 5 stars
9/22/01 mjm103171 I laughed till i was prairiedoggin' 5 stars
9/20/01 Christina Good movie. 5 stars
9/15/01 CHU SENG POONG a very funny movie, would appeal to most guys 5 stars
9/09/01 Deanna Long Funny, fast paced, totally mindless. I learned the term Prairie Dogging, I'm grateful. 5 stars
9/05/01 Billy Bob Hilarious 5 stars
8/29/01 jedrek Good movie to rent on video or see with a bunch of people. 4 stars
8/29/01 Michael Flynn 2001's funniest movie. You won't find better jokes about Nazis and "I Love Lucy" this year. 5 stars
8/28/01 chuck This is one of the finest classic comedys I have seen in a long time 5 stars
8/28/01 Brek FKn Fuck this, i'm druknk 1 stars
8/28/01 spaceworm Best opening credit sequence of the year. Cop out ending. Good otherwise. 4 stars
8/22/01 The Boy In The Designer Bubble My emotionally slow cousin said this movie was stupid. I kid you not. 1 stars
8/22/01 Rampage sucked shit 1 stars
8/22/01 Bada Bing Crosby Laughed like hell..what the fuck were you people watching? 5 stars
8/21/01 King Jackass You are insane... this movie is fucking hilarious! 5 stars
8/21/01 TimmyJ Not funny at all 1 stars
8/20/01 Dan stinks 1 stars
8/20/01 Otis Nang Pretty funny - that Bean guy is very overrated 4 stars
8/19/01 the scarecrow I was just glad to see Rowan Atkinson as something besides Bean. 4 stars
8/18/01 bnb nbn 5 stars
8/16/01 Brek FKn Another hollywood landfill full of shit, dirty needles and toasters. 1 stars
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  17-Aug-2001 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Jerry Zucker

Written by
  Andy Breckman

  Breckin Meyer
  Amy Smart
  Whoopi Goldberg
  Seth Green
  Jon Lovitz
  John Cleese
  Cuba Gooding Jr.

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