Rat Race

From Academic Kids

Rat Race

Missing image
Movie poster for Rat Race

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Writer: Andy Breckman
Starring: John Cleese,
Rowan Atkinson,
Cuba Gooding, Jr.,
Whoopi Goldberg,
Jon Lovitz,
Seth Green,
Kathy Najimy,
Breckin Meyer,
Amy Smart
Director: Jerry Zucker
Music by: John Powell
Distributor: Paramount
Release Date: 2001
Runtime: 112 minutes
Language: English

Rat Race is a 2001 comedy film (not to be confused with The Rat Race of 1960) directed by Jerry Zucker, producer of other films such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun series. It is a modern retelling of the 1963 film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The story is about six teams of people going to a casino and getting sent up to the casino mogul. He tells them that they have a chance to win huge cash if they get to a locker first. From there, insanity ensues.

Tagline: 563 miles. 9 people. $2 million. 1001 problems!


The movie begins with zippy retro-style opening credits that look like a straight-out of a '60s slapstick comedy, featuring animated photos of the cast attached to herky-jerky bodies bounding around the screen.

Donald Sinclair (played by John Cleese; incidentally this is the name of the man Cleese based Basil Fawlty on) owns a hotel-cum-casino in Las Vegas. In order to entertain some of his wealthiest patrons, Sinclair must offer betting on unique competitions. To that end, he places six special tokens in his casino's slot machines. Gathering together the lucky randomly-chosen token holders, he explains, "Today you have a chance to play a game where the odds of winning are one in six." The competition is simple: Each contestant gets a key that opens a locker in Silver City, New Mexico, containing $2 million in cash. There is a transmitter in every key, so that Sinclair and his cronies can keep track of who is ahead. The race has no rules whichever contestant reaches the locker first gets the money.

The first team are two inept brothers (Seth Green and Vince Vieluf, who talks indecipherably because of a newly pierced tongue). When they cannot catch a plane, they plot to destroy an airport control tower in a very funny sequence. Their antics carry them into a hot air balloon chase that catches a cow with a dangling rope and into a monster truck competition.

The second team is an estranged mother (Whoopi Goldberg) reunited with her daughter (Lanai Chapman), who is struggling to start a business. They face an insane squirrel-selling woman (Kathy Bates) and steal a rocket car scheduled for a land speed record attempt.

A hated NFL referee (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is stranded in the desert by an irate cabbie (Paul Rodriguez) and hijacks a busload of Lucille Ball look-alikes on the way to a convention. One of the lookalikes is played by Charlotte Zucker, director Jerry Zucker's mother.

The Jewish family man Randy Pear (Jon Lovitz) on a family vacation joins the race desperately without telling his wife (Kathy Najimy) why they are rushing across the country. When his daughter insists on stopping at a Barbie museum, it is without realization that it is the Klaus Barbie Nazi Museum. The escape from that location involves the theft of Hitler's personal touring car and culminates with Randy having his tongue burned and accidentally crashing into a WWII Veteran's convention.

A narcoleptic Italian tourist (Rowan Atkinson in his best Mr. Bean-like manner) gets a ride with an ambulance driver (Wayne Knight), who is carting a human heart for a transplant. Through various feats of ineptitude, the heart ends up flying out of the truck's window and the two have to recover it from a playful dog.

The final race member (Breckin Meyer) is a straight-laced future lawyer who at first declines to participate in the race, but re-thinks his position after he meets a smart, beautiful woman (Amy Smart) who is flying a helicopter to New Mexico. He quickly finds out that she is unbalanced after she flies over her boyfriend's house and starts an attack on the boyfriend when she sees him in the pool with an ex-girlfriend. An air pursuit results in the crash of the helicopter.

What the racers don't know is that the billionaires are betting on the outcome and are tracking every move the teams make. It's only a matter of time before they figure out who really stands to win the most before switching course to look for a different kind of pay-off.

During the end credits, the cast members dance to and sing along to "All Star" at a Smash Mouth concert.



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