My story's the same as everyone else - I saw the trailer, thought "Oh, for goodness' sake, it's just a remake of "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World; I'm steering clear", then caught the film by accident on the telly and was hooked.
The basic premise is simple - six keys, one locker, and a race for $2 million dollars. Mix into that some utterly hammy acting, Nazi Barbies, a cow tied to a hot-air balloon, and a woman intent on selling squirrels, and you've found yourself in the middle of Rat Race. And it's actually not bad. Rowan Atkinson's Italian, with an intentionally ridiculous accent and the line "Oh, a race! ...I hope I win" is frankly a remix of Mr Bean, whilst John Cleese's casino owner is classic Fawlty with extra teeth. But both those characters are classics, and stirred into this film, they become still funnier.
Every need is catered for, from those who like the disgusting (a human heart that lands up being chewed by a passing dog), to those who like the bizarre (betting on how long a maid can hang from a curtain rail). Even shameless pandering to the younger female population, myself included, can by found in the casting of the divine Breckin Meyer as a painfully cautious young lawyer determined not to go wrong, Seth Green as a dire conman, and Cuba Gooding Jr as a hapless football ref with a past he'd rather forget.
Yes, the ending is sickeningly sentimental, and in any other film would be inexcusable. But, given the events of the film, no other ending was possible. It doesn't try to be original, and really, who cares? Because in the end, you've had two million laughs at some crazy stuff that couldn't happen, and you're in a good enough mood to excuse anything.