Rat Race (film)

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For the 1960 motion picture, see The Rat Race. For other uses, see Rat race (disambiguation).
Rat Race
Rat Race poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Produced by Jerry Zucker
Janet Zucker
Sean Daniel
Written by Andy Breckman
Starring John Cleese
Breckin Meyer
Amy Smart
Rowan Atkinson
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Whoopi Goldberg
Seth Green
Vince Vieluf
Jon Lovitz
Lanei Chapman
Kathy Najimy
Dave Thomas
Wayne Knight
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Tom Lewis
Production
  company
Fireworks Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 17, 2001 (2001-08-17)
Running time 112 minutes[1]
Country Canada
United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $48 million
Box office $85,498,534[2]

Rat Race is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Jerry Zucker, written by Andy Breckman, and starring an ensemble cast, including Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jon Lovitz, Lanai Chapman, Seth Green, Kathy Najimy, Dave Thomas, Vince Vieluf, John Cleese, Breckin Meyer, Kathy Bates, Wayne Knight, Dean Cain, and Amy Smart.

The main plot revolves around six teams of people who are given the task of racing 563 miles from a Las Vegas casino to a Silver City, New Mexico train station, where a storage locker contains a duffel bag filled with two million dollars. The first team to reach the locker wins and gets to keep the money. The film has a plot similar to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Scavenger Hunt.

Plot[edit]

Donald Sinclair (John Cleese), the eccentric owner of The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, devises a new game to entertain the high rollers who visit his hotel. Six special tokens are placed in the casino's slot machines, and the winners are gathered together and told that $2 million in cash is hidden in a duffel bag in a train station locker in Silver City, New Mexico, 400 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Each team is given a key to the locker and told to race across the desert to the train station and claim the money. Unbeknownst to the competitors, Sinclair's wealthy patrons are placing bets on who will win the race.

Among the racers are scheming siblings Duane (Seth Green) and Blaine (Vince Vieluf) Cody, businesswoman Merrill Jennings (Lanei Chapman) and her estranged mother Vera (Whoopi Goldberg), disgraced American football referee Owen Templeton (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the Pear family led by opportunistic father Randy (Jon Lovitz), eccentric Italian tourist Enrico Pollini (Rowan Atkinson), and no-nonsense Nick Schaffer.

Duane and Blaine manage to inadvertently destroy an airport radar with their Ford Bronco, thus preventing the other racers from flying to the finish line, before deciding to split up to double their chances of winning by creating a replica key. The locksmith overhears their plan, makes off with the key. and tries to escape in a hot air balloon. Duane and Blaine catch up to him, leaving the locksmith and a stray dairy cow hanging from the balloon's anchor rope. The brothers later accidentally swerve their vehicle into a monster truck rally, where their car is destroyed. They steal a monster truck and continue on to Silver City.

Merrill and Vera crash their car thanks to malicious road directions given by a crazed squirrel saleswoman (Kathy Bates). They steal a rocket car, which races across the desert until it runs out of fuel. The women dizzily stumble onto a bus full of mental patients which eventually drives toward Silver City.

Owen is left stranded in the desert by a vengeful cab driver who lost $20,000 on his bad call in a football game. He comes across a coach bus filled with Lucille Ball impersonators going to an I Love Lucy convention and disguises himself as the driver. Just outside Silver City, the bus hits the cow dangling from the hot air balloon, swerving off the road and suffering a puncture (and eventually rolling over). Owen breaks down, reveals he is not a coach driver, and is forced to flee from the women on foot. After hiding from the group, he steals some clothes from a scarecrow and rides a stolen horse the rest of the way.

The (Jewish) Pear family mistakenly visits a museum dedicated to the Nazi Klaus Barbie. After the Cody brothers vandalize their car engine, the Pears steal Adolf Hitler's Mercedes-Benz staff car. Randy Pear accidentally insults a biker gang and they attack the car, causing the Pears to crash into a meeting for World War II veterans who believe the family to be Nazis after seeing Randy exiting Hitler's car while unknowingly resembling Hitler. While stopping at a restaurant, Randy drugs his family with sleeping pills, who wish to stop the race, and he hitches a ride on a semi-truck to reach Silver City.

Nick (Meyer) refuses to participate until he meets helicopter pilot Tracy Faucet (Amy Smart), who unlike others at the airport is still able to fly, using her non-fixed-wing helicopter. They pass over Tracy's boyfriend's (Dean Cain) house but spot him with his ex-girlfriend, enraging Tracy to the point that she chases him in the helicopter. It stalls out, causing her and Nick to steal her boyfriend's truck.

Narcoleptic Enrico falls asleep at the start of the race but awakens hours later. He receives a lift from ambulance driver Zack Mallozzi (Wayne Knight), who is delivering a transplant heart to El Paso. When Zack shows off the heart, it bounces out the window and a stray dog picks it up; Enrico plays fetch with it, until the dog gets killed by an electric fence. Zack considers removing Enrico's heart to replace the first, before Enrico flees onto a passing train. In despair Zack touches the electric fence, which brings the retrieved heart back to life.

Sinclair and his gamblers wager on anything, even on what Sinclair's bland right-hand man Mr. Grisham can persuade a call girl to do. When they board a private jet, Sinclair even bets on which passenger will vomit first in turbulent conditions.

All the racers reunite in Silver City, most running side-by-side on foot toward the station. Enrico arrives first, by train, only to fall asleep with his key in the locker. The other racers show up and tackle each other to open the locker. When one of them manages to unlock it, they find it is empty. They all run outside and find Grisham and call girl Vicky making off with the money bag. They lose it when the locksmith ties it to the balloon, only for the three to crash their car.

The racers follow the balloon until it lands at an outdoor charity concert hosted by Smash Mouth. All are persuaded to give the money to charity, some willingly, some reluctantly. Nick forces a horrified Sinclair and his patrons to match the amount raised (which is shown increasing at an alarming rate on the display board). The film ends with the racers dancing to "All Star" and crowd surfing in the exuberant audience.

Cast[edit]

Main
Minor

Production notes[edit]

  • Rat Race is the first film to feature two African-American actors who had previously won Academy Awards: Gooding (Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire) and Goldberg (Best Supporting Actress for Ghost).
  • Lawyer Gloria Allred is featured in two scenes. The first is when she happens to be nearby when a woman slips on an overturned empty shot glass (meant for Blaine Cody) and is injured falling down a flight of stairs, prompting Allred to immediately take up the woman's case against the hotel. The second is when Allred is on a hotel balcony as Enrico Pollini is hit by Zack's van, whereupon she is eager to handle Pollini's lawsuit.
  • Sinclair and the gamblers' eccentric habits are further exaggerated in deleted scenes, where they partake in many more ridiculous bets, including playing Monopoly with real money. In another scene, a high roller pretends to find what they are doing as immoral.
  • Professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and his wife, Kimberly, had a cameo that was cut when test audiences failed to give his appearance any reaction. The scene is available on the DVD release.
  • R&B singer, Aaliyah, was originally intended to have the part of Tracy, but she was already committed to Queen of the Damned. Natalie Portman was another contender, but the part was ultimately given to Amy Smart.[citation needed]
  • Vieluf lost billing when his agent attempted to secure him star billing. As a result, Vieluf was left out of all promotional material, even though his character was seen in a majority of the film. Vieluf later fired that agent.[citation needed]
  • Director Zucker's late mother, Charlotte, made a cameo appearance as one of the Lucille Ball impersonators.
  • Cleese's character of Donald Sinclair may be based on the hotelier of the same name, the presumed inspiration for Cleese's famous Basil Fawlty character from Fawlty Towers.
  • This is the fourth film that actresses Goldberg and Najimy were cast in together, with their previous efforts being Soapdish, Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
  • This is the second film actors Meyer and Smart worked together in, and were also each other's love interest in; the first being Road Trip, released the previous summer (2000).
  • This film reunited Chapman and Goldberg who worked together on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Meyer and Najimy would reunite on Meyer's legal comedy series Franklin & Bash with Meyer playing attorney Jared Franklin and Najimy in a recurring role as Judge Sturges.
Filming locations
  • The climactic railroad station scenes in Silver City, New Mexico were filmed at the restored train station at East Ely, Nevada, a popular tourist destination, as Silver City has no real train station.
  • The scene with the coin toss by Owen Templeton was filmed at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Rat Race was released in both Canada and the United States on August 17, 2001 and took in USD$11,662,094 in its opening weekend at the U.S. Box office, landing at #3 behind American Pie 2 and Rush Hour 2,[3] and ultimately making approximately $85.5 million worldwide,[2] based on a budget of an estimated $48 million.

Critical reviews[edit]

Rat Race opened to mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 44% "rotten" rating; the critical consensus is that "Rat Race moves from one sight gag to another, but only a handful of them are genuinely funny."[4] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film holds 52/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]