Eccentric millionaire Donald Sinclair (John Cleese) gathers together a bunch of diverse characters at his Las Vegas casino and tells them there is $2 million hidden in a train station locker in New Mexico, ready and waiting for the first person to claim it. The assembled crowd quickly set off after the prize, cheating, back-stabbing, using every conceivable means of transport, and each generally doing everything in their power to claim the money. Features Rowan Atkinson as the narcoleptic Mr Pollini, Seth Green as con-artist Duane, and Cuba Gooding Jr as a football referee named Owen who travels with a busload of Lucille Ball lookalikes.
ought to be far less enjoyable than, in the end, it is. Studded with C-list stars, it has a heartless and derivative premise: a group of no-hopers racing across country for a stash of money for the amusement of a casino owner (John Cleese) and a group of high rollers who will bet on anything. Yet their adventures along the way are inventive: for example, lost in the desert Cuba Gooding Jr ends up stealing a coach only to find it full of Lucille Ball impersonators who go "Waaah!" in chorus whenever anything goes wrong. Even the slapstick is inventive: director Jerry Airplane
Zucker and writer Andy Breckman do interesting things with hot-air balloons, a narcoleptic Rowan Atkinson, emergency organ transporters and Hitler's Mercedes Benz. All of the characters, from Breckin Meyer's smugly careful lawyer to Seth Green's shabby little con man, discover in the end that they have hearts, that some things are more important than money and that sometimes it is the journey that matters. Of course, these are all colossal sentimental clichés and yet the film has a sweet-natured quality that sells them to us.
On the DVD: Rat Race is presented with a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and Dolby 5:1 sound that delivers all of the snappy dialogue clearly. It comes with generous extras, including a gag reel, the theatrical trailer, an outtake where Seth Green completely fails to keep a straight face, a good-humoured interview with writer and director, a disappointing making-of documentary and some deleted scenes (with a couple that should not be missed). --Roz Kaveney