Anthony's Film Review

Rat Race (2001)

Rat Race features an all-star cast in a funny scramble to the finish line...

Though not obvious in its advertising, Rat Race is essentially a remake of the 1963 comedy classic It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. You might reluctantly consider this to be a reason not to see Rat Race. After all, Hollywood has been remaking old movies and TV shows, and some of these remakes are a complete waste of time for the filmmakers and the audience. But remember, it's not always true. There can be remakes that equal or surpass the original. Rat Race doesn't exactly equal It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but it's still watchable.

Both movies are about a group of people scrambling for a cash prize. However, instead of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World's car crash victim who mentions cash buried under a big W, Rat Race features John Cleese as a casino magnate who announces a $2 million prize secured in a New Mexico train station locker. He has an interesting way of picking his contenders. He places six special coins in slot machines downstairs. Anyone who wins the coin and tries to cash it is instructed to come upstairs. Once everyone gets together, they learn about the cash prize, which will go to the person who gets there first. Now why would John Cleese do this? Well, once the contenders leave, he and several other rich people get together to make bets on which rat in this experiment will get the money first.

So here are the contenders: a referee (Cuba Gooding Jr.), an actor (Breckin Meyer), two brothers, (Seth Green and Vince Vieluf), a narcoleptic Italian immigrant (Rowan Atkinson), a mother and daughter (Whoopi Goldberg and Lanei Chapman, respectively), and a man with his family (Jon Lovitz with Kathy Najimy as his wife). While we're at it, let's also throw in some other characters: Amy Smart as a helicopter pilot, Kathy Bates as a lady selling squirrels, Paul Rodriguez as a cab driver, Wayne Knight as an ambulance driver, Dean Cain as a cheating boyfriend, and even a cameo appearance by the rock band Smash Mouth.

Now throw the characters into wacky situations, including malfunctioning modes of transport, finding new modes of transport, a monster truck rally, an urgent need for the restroom on a road trip, a bus full of Lucille Ball impersonators en route to an I Love Lucy convention, walking in a desert while almost naked, a visit to a shocking museum, and an airborne cow. Overall, I found them to be funny enough for plenty of big smiles and a couple of chuckles. I did laugh out loud a few times, like during one scene that reveals the fate of anyone who does not please the squirrel lady. Overall, it's an above average comedy.

I did, however, laugh the hardest during the final scene of the movie. It was very funny because it wrapped up the story in a clever way. Now, it's not any more creative than the conclusion of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and it's not enough to bump my rating for this movie up by one star. But that's OK. At least it wasn't a disappointing ending. You can still find it worthwhile to watch the movie all the way through. So with all of this, I am giving Rat Race a rating of 7/10.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Rat Race, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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