RUN FOR YOUR MONEY, TWO FOR THE SHOW ...
Byline: Bob Strauss Film Critic
It takes awhile for ``Rat Race'' to get in gear, but once it does you've got a pretty high-performance joke machine.
Thankfully, director Jerry Zucker is back from his detour into high-gloss sentimental romanticism (``Ghost,'' ``First Knight''). Once again, he does what he did so well in the films he made with his brother, David Zucker, and Jim Abrahams (``Airplane!'' being the prime example among them). He just collects a bunch of funny bits and running gags in a loose scenario that allows you to polish each riff to a high comic sheen.
If ``Rat Race'' falls somewhat short of the sublime, laugh-a-minute silliness of ``Airplane!'' that's because it wastes time setting up a rudimentary plot and character traits that ultimately have no bearing on the raucous action. It's pretty much a wackier retread re·tread
tr.v. re·tread·ed, re·tread·ing, re·treads
1. To fit (a worn automotive tire) with a new tread.
2. of the 1960s comedy ``It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is an American motion picture directed by Stanley Kramer about the madcap pursuit of $350,000 of stolen cash by a diverse and colourful group of strangers. The ensemble comedy premiered on November 7, 1963. .'' The story, credited to ``Saturday Night Live'' writer Andy Breckman Andy Breckman (born March 3, 1955) is the creator and executive producer of the television series Monk, on the USA Network. He was previously a member of the writing staff of Saturday Night Live and Late Night With David Letterman. , sends several contingents of desperate/greedy schlumps on a treasure hunt from Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. to Silver City, N.M., where $2 million awaits the first to get there.
As with any good road movie, the getting there is all that counts; but first, we have to meet the one-note participants.
Whoopi Goldberg is a woman who has just met her grown daughter, a high-strung entrepreneur played by Lanai Lanai (lənī`), island, 141 sq mi (365 sq km), central Hawaii, W of Maui island across the Auau Channel; Mt. Lanaihale (3,370 ft/1,027 m) is the island's highest point. For many years the island was used for sugarcane raising and cattle grazing. Chapman, after giving her up for adoption at birth. Seth Green and Vince Vieluf are inept con artist brothers. Breckin Meyer plays an aspiring politician who's afraid to have fun at his friend's bachelor party and eventually teams up with Amy Smart's helicopter pilot, who proves to have issues. Jon Lovitz plays a gambling-addicted family man who's reluctant to tell his wife (Kathy Najimy) and their two nattering kids why they're on the road. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays an NFL NFL
National Football League
NFL (US) n abbr (= National Football League) → Fußball-Nationalliga ref trying to live down a humiliatingly Adv. 1. humiliatingly - in a humiliating manner; "the painting was reproduced humiliatingly small"
demeaningly bad call at last week's big game. And Rowan Atkinson is a blissfully goofy Italian tourist who suffers from narcolepsy narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and recurring unwanted episodes of sleep ("sleep attacks"). People with narcolepsy may abruptly fall asleep at almost any time, including while talking, eating, or even walking. .
They're all enticed by a casino owner (John Cleese, wearing prosthetic pros·thet·ic
1. Serving as or relating to a prosthesis.
2. Of or relating to prosthetics.
serving as a substitute; pertaining to prostheses or to prosthetics. tooth extensions to little comic effect) to compete in the madcap race. What they don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. is that his crew of high rollers is secretly betting on their progress, or lack of it.
Anyway, once they hit the road (or, more often, off-road), our contestants not only encounter a variety of unexpected obstacles but - in the film's master stroke - a menagerie of Americans indulging in unusual pastimes. While the movie, as mentioned, is basically about throwing one joke after another at the screen, it also becomes less about individuals' greed and more about the weird, alarming and occasionally wonderful ways in which people share their enthusiasms.
Performances vary according to the business each actor's assigned. Lovitz, Green, newcomer Vieluf and a briefly seen but memorable Wayne Knight get the most laughs. Atkinson, who basically does an opera bouffe variation on his Mr. Bean character, takes some getting used to (and between this and the cartoonish characters in ``Captain Corelli's Mandolin This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
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This article has been tagged since September 2007. ,'' is this Insult Italians Week at the movies or what?).
Since many of the gags' sly set-ups, shock value and unfolding payoffs depend on surprise, we'll only hint at some of the more impressive ones: Lucys; uncontented cows; ``oh no, it's Gloria Allred''; a Barbie museum like no other (we hope).
You take it from there ... or, rather, let ``Rat Race'' take you on the summer's funniest ride.
(Rated PG-13: language, nudity, comic violence)
The stars: Rowan Atkinson, Lanai Chapman, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer, Kathy Najimy, Amy Smart, Vince Vieluf.
Behind the scenes: Directed by Jerry Zucker. Written by Andy Breckman. Produced by Jerry Zucker, Janet Zucker and Sean Daniel. Released by Paramount Pictures.
Running time: One hour, 52 minutes.
Our rating: Three stars.
Blaine Cody (Vince Vieluf, left) and Duane Cody (Seth Green) hunt for treasure in ``Rat Race.''