Rat Race (2001 film): Wikis


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Rat Race

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Produced by Jerry Zucker
Janet Zucker
Sean Daniel
Written by Andy Breckman
Starring John Cleese
Rowan Atkinson
Whoopi Goldberg
Cuba Gooding Jr.
Seth Green
Jon Lovitz
Breckin Meyer
Amy Smart
Kathy Najimy
Lanai Chapman
Vince Vieluf
Dave Thomas
Wayne Knight
Kathy Bates
Dean Cain
Music by John Powell
Smash Mouth
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Editing by Tom Lewis
Studio Fireworks Entertainment
Jay Firestone
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) August 17, 2001 (2001-08-17)
Running time 112 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $48,000,000
Gross revenue $85,498,534

Rat Race is a 2001 Canadian/American all-star cast comedy film directed by Jerry Zucker, starring Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jon Lovitz, Lanei Chapman, Seth Green, Kathy Najimy, Vince Vieluf, John Cleese, Breckin Meyer, Kathy Bates, Wayne Knight and Amy Smart.

The story is about six teams of people given a task of racing 563 miles (918km) from a Las Vegas casino to a train station in Silver City, New Mexico, where a storage locker contains two million dollars. The first team to reach the locker wins and gets to keep the money. Unbeknownst to them, however, they are actually just part of a betting game.

Rat Race was inspired by, and had the same basic plot of the 1963 comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.



Donald P. Sinclair, the eccentric billionaire owner of The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, devises a new game to entertain the high rollers who visit his hotel. Six special tokens are placed in the casino's slot machines, and the winners of them are gathered together and told that two million dollars in cash are hidden in a duffel bag in a train station locker in Silver City, New Mexico. They are told it's a no-holds-barred race to get there first and claim the money. Each winner is given a key that will open the locker and they are sent on their way. Sinclair's patrons place bets on who will win the race.

The players alter their modes of transport over the course of the film and encounter different problems along the way. Merill Jennings and her estranged mother, Vera Baker, meet a squirrel owner who sends them careening down a pit when they refuse to buy a squirrel. They steal a rocket car and race across the desert until the car runs out of fuel. The women stumble into a bus of "Crazy Ladies" until they reach Silver City, choking the bus' leader until they get off. Blaine and Duane Cody sabotage an airport radar, and then decide to make a copy of their key to double their chances of winning. However, a locksmith overhears their conversation and the steals the key for himself. The brothers chase him as he tries to escape in a hot air balloon, but they get the key back and leave the locksmith and a cow to float away dangling from the balloon. They crash into a monster truck rally and steal a vehicle after being distracted by an attractive woman with many piercings.

Owen Templeton, an ashamed football referee is left stranded in the desert by a vengeful taxi driver after he lost a bet thanks to Owen's mishap involving a coin toss at the beginning of overtime during a pro football match. Owen finds a bus full of women going to an I Love Lucy convention, but the bus crashes thanks to an incident involving the cow stuck on the balloon, and Owen reveals he is not a bus driver before fleeing from the women, using a horse to reach Silver City. The Pear Family, consisting of Randy, his wife Bev, and their children, visit a "Barbie Museum" on the way, actually dedicated to Nazi Klaus Barbie. Their car is damaged by the Codys, so they steal Adolf Hitler's Mercedes-Benz car. Randy insults a group of female bikers, who attack the car and send it crashing into a rally of World War II veterans. Resembling Hitler due to a makeup smudge on his face - as well as having briefly had a cigarette lighter shoved down his throat -, Randy wanders to a podium and shouts out garbled English resembling German at the veterans and insults them further by flipping them off whilst trying to explain what happened. A war veteran produces a pistol at Randy but misses causing Randy to flee. He later drugs his family and loads them into a truck to continue the journey.

Nick Schaffer, an attorney, at first refuses to participate but changes his mind when he is offered a ride by helicopter pilot Tracy Faucet; the Codys' earlier actions have grounded the planes, but helicopters operate on a different system, which gives Nick an advantage. On the way, they pass over the house of Tracy's boyfriend only to discover he is having an affair with his ex-girlfriend. An enraged Tracy attacks and chases her boyfriend, and then steals his pickup truck with Nick, continuing the journey with little incident other than car trouble. Enrico Pollini, a narcoleptic man, falls asleep at the start but later hitches a ride in an ambulance, its driver Zach delivering a preserved heart. Enrico fiddles with the heart and then flings it out of the window. They find the heart but fear it is damaged. Zach decides to take Enrico's heart, but the latter flees onto a passing train, and the heart is fixed when Zach touches an electric fence. Enrico gives his key to a baby but has to retrieve it when the train nears Silver City, thrown off when mistook for a pedophile. He finds himself in the station where the money is, but falls asleep before he can open the locker.

The other players arrive and discover the money missing, stolen by Sinclair's assistant Mr. Grisham and a hooker named Vicky who was involved in an earlier bet. The locksmith and cow land in their getaway vehicle, resulting in the money getting swept away with the balloon, and causing their car to crash. Sinclair and his men take a plane to Silver City. The players use a bus to pursue the money, finding it at a charity concert hosted by Smash Mouth, and end up accidentally donating it all to charity, but decide to leave the matter alone after seeing some of the children the money will be helping. Sinclair appears, and Nick, guessing what he and his patrons have been up to, tells the audience that Sinclair and his friends will double whatever total of money is given to the charity in question.

The film ends with Sinclair throwing a tantrum whilst the players dance, sing and perform, as Smash Mouth performs their hit single "All Star".


Box office and reception

Rat Race took in $11,662,094 USD in its opening weekend at the U.S. Box office, landing at the #3 spot.

The film opened to mixed to negative reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a certified 43% on the Tomatometer.


  • The climactic railroad station scenes for Silver City, New Mexico were filmed at the restored train station at East Ely, Nevada, a popular tourist destination, as Silver City has no real train station.
  • The scene with the coin toss by Owen Templeton (Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s character) was filmed at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Production and casting notes

  • Lawyer Gloria Allred is featured in two cameos. The first is when she happens to be nearby when a woman slips on an overturned empty shot glass (meant for Blaine Cody) and injures herself after falling down a flight of stairs, prompting her to decide to take up the woman's case against the hotel. The second is when she is sitting on her balcony when Enrico Pollini is hit by Zack, during which she tries to take up Pollini's case against Zack.
  • Sinclair and the gamblers' eccentric gambling habits are even further exaggerated in deleted scenes, where they partake in many more ridiculous bets, including playing Monopoly with real money. In another deleted scene, one of the high rollers pretends to find what they are doing as immoral.
  • John Cleese's character of Donald Sinclair may be a reference to Donald Sinclair, a hotel owner and the inspiration for Cleese's Fawlty Towers character Basil Fawlty.
  • Professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and his wife, Kimberly Page, had a cameo in the film that was cut when test audiences failed to give his appearance any reaction. The scene is available on the DVD release.
  • Actor Vince Vieluf lost billing due to an overzealous agent who attempted to secure star-billing for Vieluf. As a result, Vieluf was left out of all promotional material even though his character was seen in a majority of the film. Vieluf has since fired that agent.
  • Jerry Zucker's mother, Charlotte Zucker, made a cameo appearance as one of the Lucy women. She is the one who says "You shouldn't be so hard on yourself." during the scene when Owen Templeton reveals he is not a bus driver.

External links

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