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Movie Review

Randomly selected slot machine players at a Vegas casino make a mad dash for $2 million stored in a New Mexico train-station locker. The first to arrive gets it all. No, it’s not the latest prime-time reality show. It’s Rat Race, a zany ensemble comedy in the tradition of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Cannonball Run.

The racers include a vacationing family, a goofy Italian narcoleptic, a straight-laced young lawyer, a disgraced football referee, a newly reunited mother and daughter, and a pair of con-artist brothers (one with a tongue stud-induced speech impediment). They don’t know it, but they’re actually pawns in a game with much higher stakes. The eccentric casino owner sponsoring this no-holds-barred scramble (John Cleese) needs a new event for high-rolling clientele to wager on.

Motivated by greed, the contestants lie, steal, drive recklessly, destroy property and commit assault. It all ends with a benevolent twist that puts the immoral scheming in perspective, but the ride is still pretty bumpy.

While not as obnoxious as R-rated Farrelly brothers fare, this film by director Jerry Zucker (Airplane!, Top Secret) employs sexual references, bathroom humor, side breast nudity and tasteless jokes (misunderstandings involve extended middle fingers, mental illness and child molestation). Also, about three dozen profanities mar the dialogue.

Gags come fast and furious in Rat Race. Many of them are laugh-out-loud funny. And in an era of cutthroat reality TV, the finale has nice warmth to it. However, unnecessary detours spoil the trip.

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John Cleese as Donald P. Sinclair; Rowan Atkinson as Enrico Pollini; Whoopi Goldberg as Vera Baker; Cuba Gooding Jr. as Owen Templeton; Seth Green as Duane Cody; Wayne Knight as Zack Mallozzi; Jon Lovitz as Randall 'Randy' Pear; Breckin Meyer as Nick Schaffer


Jerry Zucker ( )


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Bob Smithouser

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