Rat Race is not a high-brow movie. But it is hilarious and I loved it.
The premise of the film is that a number of individuals are randomly selected to participate in a race. Their goal is a locker in Silver City, New Mexico, filled with two million dollars in cash. The race itself is orchestrated by an eccentric billionaire (John Cleese) to serve as entertainment for the ultra-rich, who place very high-value bets on who they think will win. But this bit isn’t incredibly important – it’s following the various teams around as they try to win that’s really where the fun’s at.
Before I started writing this review, I did a quick Google and saw that it was rated only 44% on Rotten Tomatoes and 52% on Metacritic. Personally, I’d give it a rating in the 90s for pure entertainment value.
As I’ve said, this film isn’t intellectual and it doesn’t really have a message to share. It is wild, wacky, and absolutely does not take itself seriously. But you know what? It’s also a rollicking good ride. The acting is excellent (especially, of course, that of Rowan Atkinson), and each character has their own distinct quirks. The multiple storylines are handled well and are all individually entertaining.
This story is relatively high on the idealism end of the sliding scale of idealism versus cynicism, and pretty high on the wacky artistic-license, suspend-your-disbelief, rule-of-funny end too. This is not the film to watch if you’re looking for something realistic, thought-provoking, or with a strong/serious message. But if you’re looking for something that’s entertaining with wacky characters, improbably hilarious storylines, and real solid comedic acting, then this is the film for you.