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

Length:
111 minutes
Release:
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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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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