What would you do for two million dollars?
Me, I could be talked into doing quite a bit- eating live cockroaches, streaking Congress, watching Baywatch Nights. But my possible exploits pale in
comparison to the degrading leaps which are leapt in the surprisingly funny comedy, Rat Race.
Rat Race is going to go down in history as one of the worst marketed films ever. The sad truth is, I never would have been dragged to what I was sure
was a horribly embarrassing waste of time if I'd had to rely on the posters and trailer alone.
And I would have missed a beauty.
Joining the long line of films that deserved to have been dealt a much better marketing hand (Office Space and Galaxy Quest are two that immediately
come to mind), Rat Race tells the quite simple story of 6 teams racing across the American Southwest to collect two million bucks.
If this sounds at all familiar, it's because much of this movie will remind you of the classic, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, or later on, The
Cannonball Run. Road and race movies are nothing new. Start with crazy characters, give them one destination, see who gets there first. Rat Race is
easily the first such film since the original Cannonball Run to be remotely funny, and in all actuality it is wonderfully silly.
Your teams of money-grubbing folk include an NFL referee (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who hijacks a bus load of Lucille Ball impersonators, a Jewish family (Jon
Lovitz and Kathy Najimy) who make a pit-stop at the Claus Barbie museum, a stoner lowlife (Seth Green) and his "Hi! I just pierced my own tongue!"
brother (Vince Vieluf), a mother-daughter team (Whoopi Goldberg and Lanei Chapman) who get in trouble with the squirrel lady, a lonely bachelor
(Breckin Meyer) and the overly-crazed Helicopter pilot (Amy Smart) he begins to fall for, and a narcoleptic Italian (Rowan Atkinson) who almost steals
the movie. They are sent on their mission by a wonderfully eclectic Casino Owner (John Cleese) who spends the entire film making wages on everything
under the sun.
Nothing is sacred. Human hearts. Nazis. Flying cows. Sex in Pepto Bizmol-filled Jacuzzis.
Remember Planes, Trains and Automobiles? This flick is Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Tour Buses, Hot Air Ballons, Horses, Helicopters, Rocket Cars and
You should see this flick, because you will laugh. And unlike every other comedy currently churned out by a post-Farrelly Bros. Hollywood, nobody is
stapled to a naked midget, nobody eats human excrement, nobody masturbates at church. It's just nice, easy-going comedy. With the possible exception
of the guy who has pierced his own tongue.
Lots of these people used to be funny. Many of them, however, haven't been funny for decades. It's wonderful to be reminded just how funny some of
these folk can be. John Cleese discovers the sense of humor last seen right before he signed on to do Splitting Heirs. Jon Lovitz hasn't been this
funny since his SNL days, and Whoopi Goldberg hasn't been this funny since..well...she's funny in this movie, enough said.
But the star of the show is Rowan Atkinson. He is just marvelous. He finds nuggets of comedy in scenes that would scare away lesser men. He could
make Saving Private Ryan a hoot. The fact that he's a huge star in Britain and yet relatively unknown here in the States is something those damn
Brits are still holding over our heads.
"You may have won that war, but you still don't get Rowan! Stupid Americans!!"
So if you feel like a nice, simple, screwball comedy that will make you laugh, smile, giggle and cackle, go check out Rat Race. Dumb title. Bad
marketing. Funny movie.
Rat Race gets 4 Babylons. One for each letter in the word "rat." And then one more.
I can't believe that the SMC took a punch at Whoopi. He obviously hasn't seen Boys on the Side.
Directed By: Jerry Zucker
Starring: Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Whoopi Goldberg, Lanei Chapman, Vince Vieluf, Seth Green, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Rowan
Atkinson, John Cleese, Dave Thomas, Wayne Knight, Kathy Bates, Dean Cain, Paul Rodriguez, Eva Braun's lipstick and a talking cow.