Rat Race has enough star appeal and, most importantly, comedy to meet your entertainment needs – it’s a “horse race with animals that can think.” An Italian tourist, two con-artist brothers, football referee, business man, mother & daughter, and father find themselves in a unique situation when casino owner Donald P. Sinclair, played by John Cleese (Fish Called Wanda, Monty Python), makes them participants in a unique challenge where the winner is rewarded with two million dollars. “Good things take time, great things happen all at once,” says Sinclair as these characters beginning an eclectic, funny journey
Saturday Night Live alum Jon Lovitz, Cuba Gooding Jr. (Snow Dogs, Jerry Maguire), Whoopi Goldberg (Sister Act, Ghost), Lanei Chapman (White Men Can’t Jump), Rowan Atkinson (Bean, Four Weddings and a Funeral), Breckin Meyer (Kate & Leopold, Inside Schwartz TV series), Seth Green (Austin Powers movies), and Vince Vieluf (Clay Pigeons), Kathy Bates (Fried Green Tomatoes), Dean Cain (TV’s Adventures of Lois & Clark), Dave Thomas (TV’s Grace Under Fire), and Paul Rodriguez have supporting roles that help progress the action and compliment the main characters.
The character names not as important as their professions, characteristics, and, in Atkinson’s case, quirky health conditions. Characters all don’t seem to mind lies too much and are agreeable when large amounts of money involved. Other elements of the story counterbalance the greed while other bystanders, played by such actors as Amy Smart (Road Trip, TVs Felicity), Wayne Knight (TV’s Seinfeld) become involved in various ways (not always voluntarily).
Director/producer Jerry Zucker (Airplane, Ruthless People) and writer Andy Breckman (Saturday Night Live) work the comedy well. Between the action they set up some very amusing scenes with Cleese and hotel guests. The main characters get rung through experiences such as the “Barbie museum”, which has a funny pay off and visual gag (The ‘faster than a speeding bullet’ visual gag also pays off well). The various methods of travel and caricature beginning credits make nice icing on the cake.
Recommended (***) and rated PG-13 for sexual references, language, crude humor and partial nudity. Look closely at the ending credits regarding animal treatment during filming for an additional laugh and/or chuckle.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler