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Rat Race (2001)

Course folle

563 miles. 9 people. $2 million. 1001 problems!

Directed by:

Jerry Zucker

Rating: 2/10

Running Time: 112 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: Canada, United States

It’s not often you find yourself wishing for an horrendous and preferably fatal road accident, but the thought most definitely popped into my head whilst watching ‘Rat Race’.

This botched and cripplingly unfunny road movie brings together a platoon of Hollywood’s most desperate, each one seemingly willing to do anything to make themselves popular again. Anything, that is, except make a decent movie.

John Cleese, who’s in danger of becoming as big a sell-out merchant as any of them, plays a wealthy casino owner eager to give his filthy-rich clients some exciting new events to throw their dirty great wads of cash at. So he stuffs $2 million into a locker on the other side of the country, selects a group of randoms from his casino floor to go after it, and opens a book on who’ll get there first.

Among the selected cretins chasing the loot are Whoopi Goldberg and Lanei Chapman as a mother-and-daughter team, Seth Green and Vince Vieluf as a pair of bungling brothers, Cuba Gooding Jr. as a nationally-despised football ref and Jon Lovitz as a pig-ignorant family man. Perhaps most irritating of the lot, however, is Rowan Atkinson with his portrayal of a narcoleptic Italian (it’s a good job he eventually tells you what his nationality’s supposed to be, because you certainly can’t guess from the accent). A viewing of this, and of course ‘Johnny English’, can unfortunately lead to only one question – why has Atkinson stopped being funny? That you could watch three whole episodes of ‘Blackadder’ in the time spent taking in this drivel doesn’t bear thinking about.

What really grates about ‘Rat Race’ isn’t that it’s a ‘dumb’ comedy – it’s that it’s picked the very worst aspects of all dumb comedies ever made and tried to piece together an entertaining end product out of it. Director Jerry Zucker is so busy throwing a seemingly endless line of supposedly hare-brained scenarios at us, that he doesn’t stop to think what reasons there might be for finding these scenarios funny. It’s like being shown a list of punchlines without knowing what the jokes are supposed to be that go before each one.

It's Got: Journeyman rock band Smash Mouth taking part in what is a shockingly bad ending, even by the standards set by the previous 100 minutes.

It Needs: To be banned for attempting to set comedy back 20 years.

DVD Extras ‘The Making Of Rat Race’, deleted scenes & out-takes, gag reel, interview with director Jerry Zucker & writer Andy Breckman, and a theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Road Trip, The Cannonball Run

Summary

One long, drawn-out and not even accidentally funny mess.

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