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flick pick | Rat Race 2001
Directed by: Jerry Zucker
Written by: Andy Breckman
Starring: John Cleese, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Rowan Atkinson, Breckin Meyer, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: dumb but fun 
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5

Plot synopsis At a Las Vegas casino, six groups of gamblers hit the slot machine jackpot only to win a single mysterious gold token each. The token turns out to be an invitation to an equally mysterious gathering. Despite their reservations, each of the winners finds curiosity taking over, which is how all six groups of strangers find themselves sitting in an elaborate room and greeted enthusiastically by the casino’s very eccentric, very wealthy owner, Donald P. Sinclair [Cleese]. Sinclair informs them that they’ve each been chosen to participate in a very unusual race to Silver City, New Mexico where, in a train station locker, a $2 million prize awaits. Each of the six groups will be given a key to open the locker, and the first team to reach it gets the loot. The only rule? That there are no rules – they can get there any which way they wish, and play as dirty as they like, because in this game, anything goes. What the contestants don’t realize, however, is that they’re being watched the whole time by a group of the world’s wealthiest men, all of whom have placed their bets on a winner. Will it be the uptight young lawyer, the smarmy dad on vacation with his family, the two con-artist brothers, the businesswoman and her newly-reunited birth mom, the football referee, or the bumbling Italian?

Review Rat Race isn’t a particularly smart comedy. The humor consists of a lot of poop jokes, and all manner of silly situations involving stupid people doing stupid things. This is, after all, the product of the same mind that brought us the Naked Gun movies. Though many have extolled the virtues of Zucker’s particular brand of lowbrow humor, I’ve never counted myself a fan. So I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve now seen this movie twice, and laughed till tears leaked out both times. The first time was in the theatres; after nearly a month spent in Morocco, deprived of TV and movies alike, the simple notion of being entertained by moving, talking pictures was enough to have me giggling like a maniac, or so I convinced my inner film snob at the time. So when I snatched it off the video store shelf recently and chose it for a movie night with friends – the only guidance I’d received were that the movie be something "new, and fun" – I half expected that I’d like it much, much less the second time around. After all, back into the full swing of my normal movie-flooded life, I’d surely no longer be as amused at the sight of two moronic, scheming brothers [the ever-delightful Seth Green and a very funny Vince Vieluf] in a state of constant hysteria as they battle such obstacles as their truck getting pulled up an airport radio tower, and a hot air balloon collision with a field of cows. Or the outrageous antics of the aptly-named Pear family, headed by Jon Lovitz’s greedy, manipulative patriarch, as they stumble across a "Barbie" museum that isn’t quite what it seems, and end up fleeing in a stolen car once owned by Hitler. Apparently I’m not nearly as much of a movie snob as I might have believed, because I laughed just as hard this second time. Zucker’s frenetic little movie hurls zany sight gags and verbal puns left and right, at such an astoundingly fast pace that even when the jokes fail – as in a scene involving a rather annoying Cuba Gooding Jr. and a busload of Lucy impersonators on their way to an I Love Lucy convention, which isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds –- you’re on to the next joke before you’ve had time to fully process the previous stinker. Forget about what the movie critics say: you can’t appreciate Rat Race if you’re thinking in terms of "good" and "bad," "original" or "derivative." Rat Race appeals on a very fundamental human level: it’s just plain funny. So give into the silliness. Sometimes it’s good for you.—reviewed by Y. Sun

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