Rat Race (2001)

Billionaire Donald P. Sinclair (John Cleese) has selected a group of people to participate in a race from Las Vegas to Silver City New Mexico for a cash prize.

Director: Jerry Zucker

Cast: Breckin Meyer, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, John Cleese, Jon Lovitz, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual references, crude humor, partial nudity and language

Fun Fact: Legendary film composer Elmer Bernstein wrote a score to this film. It was rejected.

I remember the first time that I saw Rat Race was when I was in middle school. I believe that it was one of the movies my parents rented when it was released on home video for a weekend. I thought it was hilarious because for a twelve-year-old toilet humor and other over the top gags are the best type of humor. My wife and I were browsing our Amazon Prime Now account the other night and decided to watch it. She had seen it a couple of times growing up as well, but never really finished it.

The interesting thing about Rat Race is the fact that it resurrects an old Hollywood staple. This staple is the big event featuring an ensemble cast. There are very well-known names of comedy from all different types and eras. While the plot is basic, it is made up for with comedic gags peppered in through the movie. Another interesting thing is that the film relies on visual humor more than basic joke telling. It drives the comedic value up instead of just hearing the jokes we are seeing them. It brings something a little different to the table as it does not feel like it is your typical comedy. For someone that appreciates humor, but is not the biggest comedy film fan, I caught myself laughing like I did when I first saw it. One thing that is interesting is there are a few car chase sequences and some decent stunt work. This brings a different light to the movie and gives it a little bit of action as well.

An all-star cast is what drives the film to what it is. The performances stand out and memorable. Jon Lovitz steals the show as the family man that is manipulative. He is annoyed with being around his family and the minute that he is chosen for the race, he wants to abandon them because he thinks they will slow them down. Lovitz’s character has quite a bit to do and he has some of the best scenes in the movie. Rowan Atkinson is also memorable, but I think is a little too much Mr. Bean in this. Arkinson has a distinct comedic style that is memorable, and it does show in this film. I am a big Monty Python fan and John Cleese was my favorite in those shows so you could say that I had a great time seeing him in this role as well.

Something I found interesting is how well the storyline is for a comedic film like this. Every character has their own reasons why they are going for the money. While we might agree or disagree with the decisions they make, the ending of the film will leave you moved in a way. I am not going to spoil it if you have not seen it, but it will leave you moved. When I first saw it I was not expecting that type of ending, but it works.

Overall, Rat Race holds up as an effective comedy film. It relies more on antics than verbal jokes and at least to me that brings a fresh perspective on that genre. Like I have stated before I am not the biggest comedy fan, but this film had me laughing for most of the time and that is saying something. While the film has its funny moments, it also has a nice blend of excitement when the race is really on. The performances are fun to watch, and every character has a build to the very ending. We get to see these characters have an arc and that helps make the film become something satisfying. Rat Race may not be the greatest comedy of all time, but it has the fun factor that makes it an enjoyable viewing experience.

Verdict: Hit

Wife’s Verdict: Hit as re-watching it as an adult it was hilarious. Top five in her just chill background movies.


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