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RAT RACE

SYNOPSIS:
Wealthy Las Vegas casino owner and self confessed eccentric, Donald Sinclair (John Cleese) dreams up a unique race to keep his biggest punters interested: people racing for $2 million cash in a bag in a locker in a remote New Mexico town. Insane. Six ordinary folk – some with family, some with friends - (Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding jnr, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer) are randomly chosen (by poker machine winnings) and sent off on the hunt. Winner keeps all. Sinclair’s clients bet on the winner. Nobody bets on the outcome.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It’s a loud and excessive ode to the group chase sub-genre of ‘krazy komedy’, occasionally funny but more often tedious - and wasteful of talent. Jerry Zucker can do better. The big thing that’s missing is wit. Admittedly, several in the preview audience laughed more than I did, and I accept that this is ‘out there’ humour you have to be in the mood for – or just enjoy the collection of gags. Some of the gags could be taken from tv sketch comedy, and are genuinely funny. Like some of the absurd betting games Sinclair sets up, which become a running gag. There is a dose of cow antics that skirt the absurd, and a zillion-car chase that work. The problem is that none of it strings together with any kind of cohesion; the lunacy of the script doesn’t have an anchor. It should be funnier than it is, and certainly the cast work hard – but to no avail. Whoopi Goldberg is wasted, many others are hammy and Cleese is thrown away. Rowan Atkinson gets away with his Italian character by sheer force of silliness, but the overall result is too patchy to warrant the full ticket price – or the time.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
It takes time to get going and ends with a thud but there's plenty of fun between the bookends of Jerry Zucker's ramshackle comedy. A reworking of Stanley Kramer's 1963 all-star chase favourite It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (itself an homage to such films of the 20s and 30s), this marks a welcome return to pure slapstick. It's so long since anyone's done it, this almost feels new. Don't expect big laughs straight-up because Zucker and screenwriter Andy Breckman (of Saturday Night Live) deliberately keep things more or less straight as we meet the losers given a shot at outrageous fortune. Among the players are family man/pokie addict Jon Lovitz, reunited mother-daughter team Whoopi Goldberg and Lanai Chapman, loveable Italian narcoleptic Rowan Atkinson, straight-laced lawyer Breckin Meyer and disgraced football referee Cuba Gooding Jr. Once Cleese bares his capped teeth (Wayne Newton would be proud) and fires the starting pistol the fun begins and keeps going for a good hour or more, with verbal and visual gags that evolve and pay off handsomely as the race hots up. Keep your eye on the runaway hot air balloon and you'll see what I mean. There's also no-one better at handling Nazi humour than Jewish directors. Zucker does it beautifully as Lovitz and family wind up stealing Hitler's staff car from a museum and admiring its accessories. For a film made with only belly laughs in mind it's remarkable how it inspires a strangely uplifiting sense of humanity. That's not very important though - what we're here for is the sight of Cuba Gooding Jr stranded half naked in the desert and Whoopi Goldberg piloting a rocket car at 800 mph. Now that's funny. Pity about the 'right on' ending. A reminder that this is the correct new millenium and not the carefree 60s.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

RAT RACE (M)
(US)

CAST: Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Cuba Gooding jnr, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Whoopi Goldberg, Lanei Chapman, John Lovitz

DIRECTOR: Jerry Zucker

PRODUCER: Sean Daniel, Janet Zucker, Jerry Zucker

SCRIPT: Andy Breckman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thomas E. Ackerman

EDITOR: Tom Lewis

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gary Frutkoff

MUSIC: John Powell

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 3, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Entertaiment

VIDEO RELEASE:June 20, 2002







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