Jerry Zucker’s sporadically funny Rat Race does justice to its source material—1963 comedy caper It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World—in that the only thing fun about the events depicted here is watching aging B-list stars making A-list fools of themselves. A series of vignettes introduces a dozen or so socially maladapted losers at a Vegas casino, randomly chosen to partake in a hunt for $2 million by the casino’s owner (John Cleese). A cashier embarrasses a character for having repeatedly watched a porno called “Afro Whores” (it’s supposed to be funny because a prudish African-American family is standing in the background) while another character mistakes the hotel’s female bartender for a man. In another scene, Cuba Gooding Jr. discovers that a Lucille Ball impersonator is really a sassy drag queen! These improprieties are less insulting than ludicrously old-fashioned. The jokes in Rat Race are all more or less the same. John Cleese is hysterical and escapes unscathed while Zucker, to his credit, directs Andy Breckman’s script as if were really 1980. Rat Race is so retro that the filmmakers operate under the assumption that Smash Mouth is actually cool. Where’s the humor in that?
- Jerry Zucker
- Andy Breckman
- Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, Cuba Gooding Jr., Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Kathy Bates, Wayne Knight, Dave Thomas, Lanei Chapman, Brody Smith, Jillian Marie, Dean Cain
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