Retro Review: Rat Race

Written: September 2, 2001

A remake of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad World” with hi-jinxes galore.

“Rat Race” opens in a casino in Las Vegas as contestants are brought together through winning golden coins from casino slot machines. The golden coins bring the wide assortment of desperate contestants face-to-face with an eccentric millionaire (John Cleese). The millionaire and his assistant (Dave Thomas) give them each a key to a bus locker in Silver City, New Mexico. He tells them that in the locker is a bag containing $2 million dollars. Who will make it to the loot and what kind of goofy antics will these players do to get there?

In the spirit of “Gumball Rally”, “Cannonball Run” and “It’s a Mad Mad Mad World”, the director “Airplane!” Jerry Zucker creates a wide range of hilarity. There are some scenes that will burst your gut with laughter. They don’t hold back but don’t go insane with desperation with trying to make you laugh.

I loved the scene where Whoopi Goldberg and daughter steal the “jet-car”. Then there is the absolutely brilliant concept of the contestant cars smashing through wooden fences and ending up in hilarious situations. The best of fence scenes has to be the Jon Lovitz one where he addresses a sea of veterans. There are so many jokes to howl at.

The only 2 real slight problems with “Rat Race” are that there are some lulls between the giant laughs and it can make you feel a little impatient. Secondly, I found the ending to be a cop-out. I don’t want to spoil the ending but I thought it should have had a more interesting ending. Alas, maybe this ending is a sign of the times.

Like a lot of comedies today it’s hard to keep the momentum going and “Rat Race” is no exception. But this comedy does deliver the laughs a lot more than a lot of recent comedies. This film is a great stress reliever and you may just bust a gut.

(4 of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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