Rat Race
Madcap hilarity! The contestants sprint to the finish line...
dir Jerry Zucker
scr Andy Breckman
with John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Lanei Chapman, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer, Kathy Najimy, Amy Smart, Vince Vieluf, Dave Thomas, Wayne Knight, Paul Rodriguez, Dean Cain, Kathy Bates
release US 17.Aug.01; UK 11.Jan.02
01/US 1h46

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
mad mad mad mad This is pretty much just a starry nostalgia trip to the days of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World--a truckload of formerly A-list stars in a manic ensemble comedy racing against increasingly improbable odds to get a bag o' cash. This time it's a Las Vegas tycoon (Cleese) who organises the event, lures unsuspecting members of the public and keeps tabs on them as they each go from one chaotic mishap to the next. Basically there are seven separate plotlines all intertwined, and each one trying to out-do the others for pure, sublime silliness. Of course, it ends in a flurry of madcap hilarity.

It's actually not as bad as it sounds. Yes, the whole thing is utterly ridiculous, and it crosses the border between high comedy and stupid inanity far too many times for comfort. But Zucker (Ghost) knows what he's doing, and actually stages some of the set pieces brilliantly, drawing sporadically clever performances from his cast. The stories usually take the lowest possible approach to the humour, hitting the mark occasionally but not quite often enough. And there are echoes of the glory days of ZAZ with gags about a heart transplant (Airplane!) and cows (Top Secret!), not to mention Nazis, child abuse, body piercing, jealous broads and rural rednecks. Fortunately, there is talent here and there are just about enough solid laughs to keep us happy. But we never escape the nagging sense that the next gag will fall painfully flat ... and that ending just isn't going to be remotely satisfying. Trust your instincts.
themes, language cert 12 17.Sep.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
mad mad mad mad send your review to Shadows... "I got to admit to not being entirely convinced as I walked in but it's the kind of film that grows on you. It's nice to see relatively unknown actors and actresses being used. They provided some likeable characters who I actually grew to like. Plenty of funny moments were to be found throughout without reaching the depths of toilet humour too much. My only gripe is the ending - too nice and convenient. I would have preferred a surprise ending but you can't have everything. To conclude: a decent comedy well worth a look." --Jonathan, Wales 20.Jan.02
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall