In crazy comedy Rat Race John Cleese is Donald P Sinclair, the owner of a Las Vegas casino. In order to increase revenue from his high-rollers, he sets up a unique game. Planting six lucky tokens in his slot machines, he ends up with a total of nine people, including Cuba Gooding Jnr as Owen Templeton, a disgraced NFL referee, brothers Duane and Blaine Cody (Seth Green and Vince Vieluf), both staggeringly dim and Enrico Pollini (Rowan Atkinson), a narcoleptic Italian. The deal is simple – six keys to a train station locker in New Mexico, where there’s a bag with $2m for the first to get there. And meanwhile, his punters will be betting on the race.
Any comparisons to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World are completely deserved but director Jerry Zucker, whose films include Airplane! and The Naked Gun, keeps the action flowing while making sure the film, unlike …Mad… doesn’t outstay its welcome. Highlights include Duane and Blaine having trouble with a cow and a balloon, the theft of Hitler’s car from a museum by one of the competing groups and Kathy Bates as a psychopathic roadside squirrel seller. The pace never flags and the gags, if sometimes broad, never fail to raise a laugh.
USA / 2001
Director: Jerry Zucker
Writer: Andrew Breckman
Cast: John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Rowan Atkinson, Kathy Bates