Movie Reviews


Rat Race

Starring: Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Whoopi Goldberg, Lanei Chapman, Vince Vieluf, Seth Green ,Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Brody Smith, Jillian Marie, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Dave Thomas, and Silas Weir Mitchell

Directed by: Jerry Zucker


This is so stupid it's fun. Now, I'm not getting all "suburban movie goer" on you, trust me. I haven't sold my soul to the minivan dealership just yet, but, Rat Race is mindless, cheesy laughs and giggles.

Sure it's one of those "good for the whole family" flicks that should be thrown right into the trash from a cinematic point of view, but for bringing the multi-generational youngins' and what-do-we-do-with-them-while-they're-visiting- for-the-whole-damn-summer-relatives together it serves its purpose perfectly.

And Rat Race is certainly good for a couple innocent guffaws and chuckles; think Cannonball Run, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World or The Great Race, silly stupid, nonsensical fun. Nothing academy award winning or snot-flying about inducing, but non the less enjoyable. The real funny stuff is pretty much all over the previews, as suspected. However they've left a few ha-ha treats inside.

Rat Race is about a group of misfits thrown together by Donald Sinclair (John Cleese- who has borrowed Matt Dillon's "Chopper" dentures from Something about Mary for the role). Sinclair's going to give one lucky winner a bag filled with two million dollars. Winner of what? A race. A race to a little train station in Silver Something New Mexico. He's added golden coins to his hotels slot machines to gather his race members.

Of course Sinclair has something up his sleeve. No casino owner gives away two million dollars...

Who will win the cash? Who cares it's just fun to watch the twists and turns as silliness grows and multiplies, like any old screwball race comedies of twenty and thirty years ago. They were not cinematic treasures either, just a quick giggle, that many of us deny enjoying yet, oddly always seem to know every cast member and their bio. Hmm. Rat Race's jokes are telegraphed and a biggy size portion of corny. Is this a great movie? No. But, it is fun. Rat Race jams a big-ol-bunch of famous faces and "Hey, I know that one too"s into two hours of goofy humor meant to be taken with a big smile.

The racers are:

Whacky Enrico Pollini played by whacky Rowan Atkinson (you know him as Mr. Bean though his Black Adder series was so much funnier). He's a blatant rip-off of real life nutcase Roberto Benigni the director/actor of Life is Beautiful. Too goofy for me...

There's Cuba Gooding Jr. who's character, Owen Templeton, has recently made a grievous error of judgment on a playing field which has catapulted the man to "America's most hated" celebrity -over night. He's having a particularly bad week.

There are the clueless brothers, Blaine and Duane Cody, played by Vince Vieluf, and Seth Green. They're cheaters, competitors and hell-bent on getting that cash no matter who they have to scam. Brother Blaine has his jaw wired shut so he sounds like a bad imitation of Benicio Del Toro mumbling through all his lines. That gets kind of old, kind of fast. They are shady laughable tweedle de and tweedle dumb villains over all. Vieluf is an up and comer- keep your eye out...

Then there's the straight edged attorney from Chicago, Nick Shaffer, played calmly by Road Trip's Breckin Meyer. This is Mr. Straight. He's has not committed a single crime and isn't sure what people mean by the "F" word. Mr Paully Purebred to be sure...that'll change. He hooks up with jilted Ms. Bitter, aka Tracy Faucet played by Road Trip's Amy Smart. There's a pattern here no? They were both in Road Trip, this is kind of a road trip...Clever!

Add Whoopi Goldberg and Lanai Chapman paired as mother and daughter who have joined in for the loot, but get held up from the race a tad when they encounter a deranged road side pet squirrel vender (Kathy Bates in one of the highlights of the movie) who's not too pleased they didn't purchase one of her critters.

Finally there's Jon Lovitz and his middle-class family the Pears. He and his wife (Kathy Najimy) are just trying to have a family vacation...But, Randy (Lovitz) has a gambling habit that leads him into this race. He tries to keep it a secret from his naive wife, as she's non-too- keen on his harebrain ideas as is. Lovitz and his family unit steal most of the truly funny scenes. They have the hardest time in the race (in my opinion), and the funniest results trying to stay in the race. Obvious, slapstick laughs...but laughs are laughs! Finally a Lovitz movie that doesn't suck Good for him.

A Blunt Aside: Why are all men named Vince cute? Hmm. Oh, and Pauls too? Just something to ponder till the next review.

The cast is really the only thing that makes this watchable. Each excellent at their character's idiosyncrasies that make for the laughs en route to the cash. The script is borrowed from several mad race chases of yesteryear and tweaked for today's viewer.

Snack Recommendation: Squirrel nuts.

The Emilyism©






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