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
US theatrical release poster.
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Produced by Jerry Zucker
Janet Zucker
Sean Daniel
Written by Andy Breckman
Starring Rowan Atkinson
Lanai Chapman
John Cleese
Whoopi Goldberg
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Seth Green
Wayne Knight
Jon Lovitz
Breckin Meyer
Kathy Najimy
Amy Smart
Dave Thomas
Vince Vieluf
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Edited by Tom Lewis
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • August 17, 2001 (2001-08-17)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
Country Canada
United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $48 million
Box office $85.5 million[2]

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

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 $2 million. The first person 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.


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, 563 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 group of patrons continue to make smaller bets throughout the course of the film, facilitated by Sinclair's assistant Grisham (Dave Thomas), who at one point hires an escort as part of a dare.

Among the racers are scheming siblings Duane (Seth Green) and Blaine Cody (Vince Vieluf), businesswoman Merrill Jennings (Lanai 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 (Breckin Meyer).

Unable to get on the earliest flight, Duane and Blaine manage to destroy the radar with their Ford Bronco, grounding everybody else. However their car is wrecked in the sabotage, so they steal another before deciding to split up to double their chances of winning by creating a replica key. The locksmith (Silas Weir Mitchell) overhears their plan, and makes off with the key, trying 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 it is destroyed. They therefore 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 (Paul Rodriguez) 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, he steals some clothes from a scarecrow and rides a stolen horse the rest of the way.

Randy Pear deceives his family into accompanying him in the race, but they mistakenly visit a museum dedicated to the Nazi Klaus Barbie. After the Cody brothers vandalize their car, the Pears steal Adolf Hitler's staff car to continue. Randy accidentally insults a biker gang and they attack, 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. After being chased away, the family tell Randy they want to stop the race, but he drugs them with sleeping pills, and bundles them into a semi-truck to reach Silver City.

Nick chooses not to participate in the race until he meets pilot Tracy Faucet (Amy Smart), one of the few still able to fly using her non-fixed-wing helicopter; he realizes she gives him a large advantage, then persuades her to give him a lift. They pass over Tracy's boyfriend's (Dean Cain) house but spot him with his ex-girlfriend, enraging Tracy to the point that she attacks and chases him in the helicopter. It stalls out, causing her and Nick to steal her boyfriend's truck. Now without a job and on the run, Tracey accompanies Nick to Silver City.

Narcoleptic Enrico falls asleep at the start of the race and only awakens hours later. He rushes out of the casino to be run down by ambulance driver Zack (Wayne Knight), who is delivering a transplant heart to El Paso. Wishing to avoid trouble, Zack agrees to take Enrico to Silver City. 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 murdering Enrico to use his heart as a replacement, but Enrico escapes on a passing train. In despair Zack touches the electric fence, which brings the retrieved heart back to life.

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 others show up and tackle each other to open the locker, only to find it is empty. They all run outside and find Sinclair's assistant Grisham and the call girl he hired 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. The band and crowd mistake the money as a donation, and once they see the charitable good spirit they've made, the group are persuaded to accept. Nick then surprises a horrified Sinclair and his patrons by declaring that they will 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 audience as Sinclair weeps.


  • John Cleese as Donald P. Sinclair, an eccentric Las Vegas billionaire and gambling mastermind
  • Rowan Atkinson as Enrico Pollini, a simple-minded narcoleptic Italian tourist
  • Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Owen Templeton, a disgraced football referee now infamous for a bad call
  • Whoopi Goldberg as Vera Baker, a doting and superstitious mother
  • Lanai Chapman as Merrill Jennings, a high-strung businesswoman and Vera's estranged daughter
  • Seth Green as Duane Cody, a ne'er-do-well looking to make a buck on insurance scams
  • Vince Vieluf as Blaine Cody, Duane's unintelligible brother with many piercings
  • Jon Lovitz as Randy Pear, an irresponsible and recklessly opportunist tourist
  • Kathy Najimy as Bev Pear, Randy's wife
  • Breckin Meyer as Nick Schaffer, a straight-laced young attorney
  • Amy Smart as Tracy Faucet, a competent helicopter pilot with rage issues
  • Dave Thomas as Harold Grisham, Sinclair's well-trodden assistant
  • Wayne Knight as Zack Mallozzi, a medical supply driver with a penchant for showing off his deliveries

Production notes[edit]

  • Lawyer Gloria Allred appears as herself 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 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.
  • Director Zucker's late mother, Charlotte, appears as one of the Lucille Ball impersonators.
  • 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. The helicopter scene was filmed at 3118 Carnation St. Rosamond, Ca.


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 in the box office within the United States, 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. The film was released in the United Kingdom on January 11, 2002, and opened on #3, behind The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.[4] The next two weekends, the film regained the spot, before moving down one place, then four places down, before finally ending up on #10 on February 10, 2002.[5][6][7][8]

Critical reviews[edit]

Rat Race opened to mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 44% "rotten" rating, with a critical consensus reading "Rat Race moves from one sight gag to another, but only a handful of them are genuinely funny."[9] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film holds 52/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rat Race (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 2001-08-29. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  2. ^ a b Rat Race at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 17–19, 2001 – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. 2001-08-20. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  4. ^ "Weekend box office 11th January 2002 - 13th January 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Weekend box office 18th January 2002 - 20th January 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Weekend box office 25th January 2002 - 27th January 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  7. ^ "Weekend box office 1st February 2002 - 3rd February 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  8. ^ "Weekend box office 8th February 2002 - 10th February 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  9. ^ Rat Race at Rotten Tomatoes
  10. ^ Rat Race at Metacritic

External links[edit]