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Movie Review

Rat Race also known as “El mundo está loco loco,” “Course folle,” “Divlja trka,” “Está Tudo Louco,” “Rat Race - Der nackte Wahnsinn,” “Rat Race - Sk(r)attjakten,” “Ratas a la carrera,” “Rottaralli,” “Tabana kuvvet,” “To trelo kynigi tou thisavrou,” “Trka pacova,” “Tá Todo Mundo Louco,” “Wyscig szczurów,” “Üldözési mánia”

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

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adult
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
August 17, 2001 (wide)
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues
Scene from “Rat Race”

greed

gambling

Should Christians be involved with lotteries or other forms of gambling? Answer

Featuring: Breckin Meyer … Nick Schaffer
Cuba Gooding Jr.Owen Templeton
Whoopi GoldbergVera Baker
John CleeseDonald P. Sinclair
Rowan Atkinson … Enrico Pollini
Amy SmartTracy Faucet
Seth Green … Duane Cody
Vince Vieluf … Blaine Cody
Jon Lovitz … Randy Pear
Kathy Najimy … Beverly Pear
Kathy BatesThe Squirrel Lady (uncredited)
Dean Cain … Shawn Kent
Rance Howard … Feed the Earth Spokesman
Gloria Allred … Herself
more »
Director: Jerry Zucker—“Airplane!”, “Top Secret!”
Producer: Jerry Zucker, Janet Zucker, Sean Daniel
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Watch out! “Rat Race” will want to trap you in its maze of moral decay, but don’t fall for it. There isn’t any cheese at the end of this run! “Behold!…in this film it completely loses all its power.”

Scene from “Rat Race”I hate to be the one to Rat on this terrible movie, but once again Hollywood manages to give comedy a bad name. The gas from two Oscar winners (Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding Jr.) can’t power this flic over the finish line.

I liked some of the all-star journeys of the past. It was the adventures in the late 50’s and 60’s that would throw dozens of Hollywood stars together in a frantic time-is-running-out plot. These globe-trotting extravaganzas would sometimes feel like one big long chase scene, but they were fun. My favorites were “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Great Race”, “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines,” and “Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies” (you may want to rent one to see what I’m talking about). Many critics are comparing “Rat Race” to films of this genre. The similarities are few and the disappointments many. Not even retro-style opening credits can help this film trapped by no story and many contrived scenes that fall flat like a house of cards.

“Rat Race” is a film that is driven by the motivation of greed. We have a group of casino losers brought together to chase after a $2 million dollar prize (I know—that’s a lot of cheese!). Donald Sinclair (John Cleese) is an extremely rich casino owner (who must have bought Matt Dillon’s, “There’s Something About Mary”, false teeth on Ebay). He enjoys concocting unusual bets for his millionaire clients. They will bet on these six unsuspecting mice in a race that has no rules. Each contestant gets a key to a locker in Silver City, N.M. There is a transmitter in each key, so that Sinclair and his rich friends can track who is ahead.

The contestants are Randy Pear (Jon Lovitz). He promised his wife Beverly (Kathy Najimy) and two children a fun-filled vacation in Las Vegas. He must lie to his wife in order for the family to stay together (starting to get the picture?).

Mr. Pollini (Rowan Atkinson a.k.a Mr. Bean) is a pleasant Italian man on holiday in America. Vera Baker (Whoopi Goldberg) is in town to meet a daughter that she gave up for adoption. Owen Templeton (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a former NFL referee. He is loathed by every gambler in the country for blowing a call during a high-profile game. Nick Shaffer (Breckin Meyer) is an attorney from Chicago. He is attending a friend’s bachelor party. Our final participants are the Cody brothers, Duane (Seth Green) and Blaine (Vince Vieluf). They help add to the dumb and dumber aspect of this movie. Blaine has a speech impediment because he tried to pierce his tongue himself (are you laughing yet?) So who do you wanna root for?

The competitors use various forms of transportation (passing grades for good effort here) to try and reach their destination. We have some typical tourist traps thrown in for gags. We even get to hear Smash Mouth sing “All Star” again (movie trivia fans—how many times has that song appeared?).

Director Jerry Zucker, who soared in the comedy “Airplane” and the romantic drama “Ghost”, crash lands in this film full of sexual innuendo, pornography, profanity (including the use of the f-word), cross-dressing, lesbian bikers, and implied child molestation (I’m not laughing). Who knows, maybe enough word-of-mouth can keep this loser in the starting blocks. His 80-plus cast did provide work for three of his family members (how nice). Too bad his cast didn’t work to provide a decent comedy. Where are Red Skelton, Buddy Hackett, Bill Cosby, and Jonathan Winters when you need them? It is disappointing that almost every opportunity for comic hijinks is missed. Screenwriter Andy Breckman needs to re-clock his script and realize we’re still not laughing (yes—I know he writes for David Letterman). Yes, there are some funny moments, funny stunts, and funny sight gags, but many of the punch-lines were spoiled by movie trailers. Even with the gags, “Rat Race” can’t recover from going morally flat. Ninety minutes never seemed so long. The real pay-off for this comedy is to skip it and use the money to buy a Mark Lowery or Ken Davis video, and invite some friends over for wholesome comedy that can truly tickle your funny bone.


Viewer Comments
The movie has some good laughs, for me, especially the Hitler Car, et al… What ruined it for me was the pathetic ending where we must use a good guilt trip on wealthy people to raise money for a “Feed the Children” ploy. Out of a crowd of 300,000 (?), it looked like at the beginning of this sequence, they could only raise $9,000+? And, of course, a mention of the 12 apostles, likening them to Santa Clauses for starving children, is sure to gain the sympathy vote—Unfortunately, this shows how misguided Hollywood writers are off track when it comes to charity, and it’s real meaning.

I am sure, that Christians looking for wholesome entertainment via Hollywood Movies have plopped down money for worse venues—considering alternative titles currently being exploited, Rat Race, is probably the best bet this summer.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Dennis Atnip, age 47
I loved this movie! This film made me laugh out loud until I almost felt physically sick! Granted, the premise was first and foremost, greed, in the hearts and minds of the characters. But the ending (I won’t say what it was!), although not Christian, did have a moral to the story and made you (well, it did “me”, anyway) feel good. So not only did I have a great time laughing my head off through the film, I had tears in my eyes at the end. I wouldn’t recommend this film for children, but I would for adults who need a good, goofy laugh.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—DeeDee, age 50
This movie COULD have been a funny movie. While building up to what can be a funny joke, they let the opportunity slip by and used down-right dumb jokes. Some moments were funny (Such as the men betting on how long the maids could hang on to the curtain rod) but many disappointing jokes. This is not a movie for young children though. Many of the jokes would go over their heads and some things parents may not feel that their children are ready for (Such as a family mistaking that Mr.Bean is touching their child’s private part when he was really looking for his keys) If you really want to see this movie, I suggest that you rent it on video when you are not feeling good—it would be nice to fall asleep to.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 2]
—Jaclyn Buonauro, age 16
I’m a youth pastor on the Midwest, and my wife and I saw the movie and thought it was hilarious. There were a few minorly objectionable scenes, but overall it was just a fun movie. The parts with the Lucy’s, the heart, the Hitler car, and the cow were creative and quite humorous. I’m not really sure where you put this in the “very offensive” category. No, its not perfect… and one scene at the beginning had me wondering, but as the movie progressed—it became funnier and funnier and had less objectionable material than 90% of the movies out there these days!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Stew, age 29
This is a film that can certainly wait for video and even then don’t watch with the children. I was disappointed to say the least. This film has some “big” names but seems like they just had some free time and had to produce a film based on more original (and better) work of the past.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Bob, age 38
…Not as good as “…Mad World”, maybe if they had enlisted a group of A list celebrities. Still, a very talented cast that was put to good use. (To see how to completely misuse a talented cast, see “Osmosis Jones”). I went to see it with two other friends, one of which was a Lutheran and the other being a strict Mormon, and neither of them were offended either. I certainly didn’t find anything offensive, even some mild language could hardly be taken seriously in the context of a movie that features flying cows and a bus full of Lucille Ball impersonators… what is this about Mr. Bean molesting a child? I certainly didn’t see that in this film…
—Dipsy, age 19
This movie was absolutely hilarious! It is a must see, and is by far the best movie of the summer, and will probably be the best movie of the year!
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Jonathan Cook, age 20
Every once in a while, there is a film you look forward to for months—maybe it’s the storyline, maybe it’s the cast, maybe because it looks like a remake of one of your favorite films. that’s how it was with me when I first saw the trailer for this film. It looked just like a modernized “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” one of the best comedies ever made. So I couldn’t wait… but I now wish I could’ve. There were a few funny scenes in this movie, but ONLY a few. Not enough to satisfy most moviegoers (the one’s with brains that is!) If you really feel that you need to spend two hours of your life on this film, then watch the trailer 100 times—that’s where the few funniest moments are. The cast is impressive on paper, but there was really only one who did a good job with their role—Whoopi Goldberg. She alone gives this movie something—but just a little something. HER lines were clever. Some of HER jokes were funny. If only all the roles were written as well as hers—then we would’ve possibly had something.

So many times in this movie I wanted to yell at the director for wrecking a scene that could’ve been funny, but instead the scene died out through plain stupidity. The other plus is attributed to one hilarious Hitler scene (rent the movie for this part alone) and the “I Love Lucy” bus scenes (if you like the show, you’ll smile at these parts.) Other than that though, you’ll be very disappointed. This movie doesn’t contain many laughs, but it does have nudity, an “F” word (although on the whole, there is not much profanity at all), and some sexual material involving prostitutes (one scene is described in detail and could be EXTREMELY bothersome to some.)

This is not a film for young children, nor even for rats. I hope this “rat” gets caught in a trap. SAVE YOUR MONEY—go see something you like for a second time if you must spend the money. This is no “it’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, it just makes viewers mad.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Dan, age 17
I found this movie to be absolutely hilarious. I was laughing so hard I was crying, as was everyone else in the theater. Some mild offensive elements do occur, but nothing like what appears in most recent comedies. My whole family went to see it and loved it.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—D.J. Hofrichter, age 18
I thought this movie was very entertaining. Although some offensive parts, it is just a fun movie. I liked it a lot. I would recommend to go see this only if you are not so critical and over about 16 years old.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Brook, age 17
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. True, some of the content was objectionable, and I would definitely not recommend the movie for young children, but the overall theme of the film is in fact a good, moral one. Yes, the characters are all driven by greed, but tell me, if offered this chance for 2 million dollars, who wouldn’t be? And greed isn’t the theme of this movie at all! In fact, it makes the greedy look bad, and the generous look good! Furthermore, the acting was terrific, and the jokes non-stop. If it had not been for the few objectionable moments, I would have given it a rating of Above Average, and it would have been just as funny.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Will Moes, age 16
Rat Race could’ve been a great family movie if the creators would have resisted the temptation to include sexual innuendo, pornography and profanity. Those scenes didn’t add a single laugh to the movie, and were obviously added simply to gain the “more marketable” PG-13 rating. I have never heard a theater go as quiet as is did during the Rowan Atkinson implied child molestation scene. Yes, there were a few funny scenes, but don’t subject yourself to the junk just for a few cheap laughs. Stay home with the kids and rent “The Great Race” instead.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Chris, age 36
This movie is about greed, true. But it’s also a picture of how a simple “small” sin corrupts so completely. I won’t attempt to defend the bawdiness or the language, except to say that I felt that it’s less prevalent than the reviewer seemed to indicate. There’s a good bit of language, partial nudity, and general offensiveness. However, the offense is applied equally—everyone gets picked on, except (surprisingly) Christians. There are two mentions of God in the film—one from a man who challenges God to give him a sign (with hilarious results), and one from a man who leads an organization to feed the hungry (with happy results). Overall, this is not a particularly memorable picture, but not nearly as awful as this review states. And, for the record, “All-Star” has been in Mystery Men, Shrek, and Rat Race.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Scott Ward, age 28
I liked this movie and found it funny. Nevertheless, it was offensive at some parts (i.e. the Neo-Nazi stuff, people taking the Lord’s name in vain, etc.). I think this movie teaches that one should not be promoted by greed. It also shows what stupid things people will do once motivated by greed. I wish they would do without the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” featured in the movie. It gets quite annoying.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Shannon, age 20
Movie Critics
…a hooker and/or stripper [show] up at a man’s hotel room… we briefly see part of a young woman’s bare breast as she lifts her shirt…
—ScreenIt!
…Some crude sexual references… Foul language prevents our recommendation…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…DISCUSSION TOPICS—Nazis, eccentrics, narcolepsy, gambling, adoption, transvestites, sexism, humiliation, starving children…
—Kids-in-Mind