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Rat Race
DVD disk
Oct 7, 2004 By: Tony Pacemaker
Rat Race order
Director:
Jerry Zucker

Actors:
John Cleese
Whoopi Goldberg
Cuba Gooding Jr.

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The characters in this movie all start out in a hotel casino in Las Vegas. They each win a special coin out of the slot machines that invites them up to a reception in which John Cleese, the owner of the hotel, tells them that 2 million dollars is in a train station locker over 500 miles away. They each get a key to the locker, and the first one there wins the money
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
You remember the jokes in Airplane like “That’s a vector, Victor” and “Hi Jack!”? There is not a single joke in this entire movie that has either the charm or personality of those gems. The jokes in this movie include cow-hanging-from-rope humor, fumbling-with-organ-transplant humor, and there’s a busload-of-Lucy’s-from-I –Love-Lucy humor. I think the scene that sealed it for me was the solution that Jon Lovitz gave his daughter who had to use the bathroom, but Lovitz refused to pull over. And that’s just nasty. This movie has everything in it that you think it might. Of course, none of the folks trying to get to the money make it there simply, or in one piece. They crash or destroy every vehicle they get their hands on in “zany” ways, and they get beat up, or knocked around, etc. If there’s a banana peel, they slip on it, if there’s a wall, they run into it, and if there’s a table of food, they fall on it.

It would make more sense if the characters just got in a regular car and drove the distance, but no, that’s not funny! They have to get in hot air balloons, or rocket cars, or Hitler’s Rolls Royce. Whatever. Every damn joke in this film is broadcast for miles before it actually happens. Every character in the film is completely one-dimensional. They don’t end up any differently then they start out, none of the relationships are developed, and I really didn’t care either way. Nobody hooks up, or realizes anything about themselves. Cuba is a bad football referee, and he stays that way, for example. But Smashmouth is in the movie! Yeehaw! Don’t you love it when they can end a movie with a fun-loving rock tune AND have the band not only play it, BUT have it be an integral part of the plot? And if you’re gonna get a band, get Smashmouth, cause they are the bomb.
THE EXTRAS
The Making of Rat Race: Did you know that Seth Green couldn’t believe he was working with such comedic geniuses as John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, and Whoopi Goldberg? Well, even comedic geniuses have their bad days. This featurette spends the first half explaining the plot and characters of the movie, and the second half having everyone say why they loved working on the film and had fun every day. It hurts to see Jerry Zucker talk about this movie, knowing full well that he helped write the KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. (About 22 minutes)

Interview with director Jerry Zucker and writer Andy Breckman: Jerry and Andy discuss how they met each other, they discuss the script for the film, the gags in the film, and we get to (yeah!) see clips of the film strewn throughout. Here’s a helpful hint about this film: they say that before they came up with the idea of the Lucy’s on the bus, they thought about doing Jerry Lewis’s on the bus, and (Heaven help me) ventriloquists with their dummies on the bus. (About 8 minutes)

Jerry and Andy Call the Actors: Okay, get this, because they thought the commentary for the movie was too boring, these two guys decide to call up each actor in the film, on the spot, and ad lib a conversation. And hilarity is supposed to ensue. It doesn’t. And it doesn’t seem like any of the actors were thrilled about having an impromptu phone call recorded for a DVD. And Jerry and Andy can’t ad lib worth damn. (“Cuba, get in the shower and talk to us. That would be funny!!”)

Finally, there are some deleted scenes (with Zucker’s commentary), outtakes, and a trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The jokes in the trailer are the funniest in the film. The jokes in this movie are supposed to be “zany”, and “mad-cap”. If you like that stuff, you might like this film. For me, this movie was like a two hour slap in the face. I’ve come to expect much better comedy from Jerry Zucker, and this ain’t it. The only cool extra on the DVD was an outtake where Seth Green is trying to get through a joke, but keeps laughing. Pretty funny. But not worth a purchase, or a rental. Maybe a viewing on HBO, but even that’s 50/50.
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