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Rat Race (2002)
Director: Jerry Zucker
John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg,
Cuba Gooding Jr, Rowan Atkinson, Jon Lovitz,
Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Kathy Bates.

111 minutes
11th January 2002
12 cert camera
Rat Race
Love in: Cuba Gooding Jr meets a Lucille Ball lookalike.
The term "goofball comedy" may induce shudders of horror, but comedy fans can take heart from "Rat Race". A genuinely hilarious belly-acher, it does exactly what it says on the tin - entertains.
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Movie - Top Ten
The premise - from "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" director Jerry Zucker - is a no-brainer. Six randomly selected guests at a swanky Vegas hotel are invited to take part in a race by casino mogul Donald Sinclair (Cleese, in zany Monty Python mode).

Each is given a key to a safety deposit box which contains $2million and is situated in a desert town a state away. The first to get there wins the cash. The rules? None.

Cue an "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"-style scramble by the participants to get to the stash. A narcoleptic Italian (Atkinson) hitches a lift with a mad medic (Wayne Knight); a strait-laced lawyer (Meyer) teams up with a feisty helicopter pilot (Smart); Randy Pear (Lovitz) and family steal Hitler's car from a Nazi museum; a pair of thick brothers (Green and Vince Vieluf) get into cow trouble; and a disgraced referee (Gooding Jr) ends up driving a bus of I Love Lucy fans across the desert.

Oh, and then there's the estranged mother (Goldberg) and daughter (Lanai Chapman) who meet 'the squirrel lady' (Bates) before stowing away in a rocket car.

It's wacky, off-kilter and very, very silly, but spot-on performances, a lightning pace, economic script, and bum-friendly running time prevent the whole shebang from becoming tiresome. And a lack of mean-spirited, gross-out humour makes it a guileless, guilt-free pleasure that should appeal to more than merely teenage boys.

"Rat Race" opens in UK cinemas on Friday 11th January 2002.

Reviewed by Jane Crowther , BBC Films

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