Millionaire Donald Sinclair leaves $2 million in a locker at Silver City train station, 700 miles outside Las Vegas, and challenges a handful of Vegas tourists to race to get it. The first to reach the loot gets the lot.
Back in the 1980s - before he made sob-fest 'Ghost' and the teeth-gnashingly awful King Arthur saga, 'First Knight' - the words 'directed by Jerry Zucker' on the screen heralded a stupidly funny movie, be it 'Ruthless People', 'Airplane' or even the terribly silly 'Top Secret'. With 'Rat Race', his first film in six years, Zucker returns to form, delivering a daft, old-fashioned adventure-comedy that may not strain the brain but will tickle the funny bone.
The premise is simple (and reminiscent of 1963's 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'). A group of disparate tourists in Las Vegas each win a special coin that entitles them to take part in a race organised by eccentric millionaire Donald Sinclair (Cleese). He has placed $2 million in a locker 700 miles away, and whoever gets there first can keep the money, while Sinclair's rich pals place bets on who that might be.
And what a group Sinclair has assembled. There's stumbling Italian Mr. Pollini; family man Randy (Jon Lovitz), who drags his unsuspecting family with him; dumb and dumber brothers Blaine (Vince Vieluf) and Duane (Seth Green); uptight law student Nick (Breckin Meyer); disgraced referee Owen (Gooding Jr., on fine form); and a recently reunited mother and daughter (Goldberg and Chapman).
The screwball gags come fast and furious, involving everything from a flying cow to Hitler's car, an eccentric roadside squirrel seller and a bus full of Lucille Ball impersonators. And while they don't all hit the mark, enough of them do to help you forget the minor annoyances elsewhere in the movie. Such as why has Cleese got huge, white, false teeth? Why is Atkinson just playing Mr. Bean but with a strange foreign accent? And, what's with the unfittingly sentimental ending? Quibbles aside, this is nicely played by the ensemble cast (we'll forgive Cleese his dentures as his performance is deliciously nutty) and packed with lunacy that will keep you sniggering long after you've left the cinema.
Ex-Saturday Night Live writer Breckman piles on the gags for this daft chase movie. It's incredibly silly, but also rib-ticklingly funny.