Rat Race (film)
Rat Race is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Jerry Zucker. Inspired by Stanley Kramer's 1963 classic It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the film features an ensemble cast consisting of Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Wayne Knight, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Lanai Chapman, Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Seth Green, Vince Vieluf, John Cleese and Dave Thomas.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jerry Zucker|
|Produced by||Jerry Zucker|
|Written by||Andy Breckman|
Cuba Gooding Jr.
|Music by||John Powell|
|Cinematography||Thomas E. Ackerman|
|Edited by||Tom Lewis|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$85.5 million|
The film centers on six teams of people who are given the task of racing 563 miles (906 km) from a Las Vegas casino to a Silver City, New Mexico train station where a storage locker contains a duffel bag filled with $2 million. Each team is given a key to the locker and the first person to reach the locker gets the money.
Produced by Fireworks Pictures, Alphaville Films and Zucker's Zucker Productions, the film was released theatrically by Paramount Pictures on August 17, 2001 in the United States and Canada. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film was a box office success, having grossed $85.5 million worldwide against a $48 million budget, and in recent years has developed a cult following.
Eccentric tycoon Donald Sinclair devises a game to entertain the high rollers who visit his Las Vegas casino. He arranges for six competitors to race to Silver City, New Mexico, where $2 million is in a train station locker. Sinclair's guests place bets on who will win.
The racers consist of siblings Duane and Blaine Cody, businesswoman Merrill Jennings and her mother Vera, football referee Owen Templeton, the Pear family led by Randy Pear, narcoleptic Italian tourist Enrico Pollini, and no nonsense attorney Nick Schaffer. They initially agree not to play, but greed takes over, and they start to race.
The Codys destroy the airport radar, after they cannot get a plane ticket. They decide to split up. They have a locksmith create a duplicate key for the locker, but he overhears their plan and absconds with the key. The brothers give chase, and the locksmith gets away in a hot air balloon. They catch him and leave him and an unlucky cow hanging from the balloon's anchor rope. While flirting with girls driving on the highway, the brothers lose control and crash into a monster truck rally. Their car is flattened by a monster truck. They steal the monster truck and drive it to Silver City.
Owen is kicked out of a taxi in the desert as the driver's revenge for making a bad call at a football game. Finding a gas station, he talks a bus driver out of his uniform and hijacks a busload of Lucille Ball cosplayers. The bus crashes after hitting the dangling cow. Owen has an emotional breakdown and reveals that he is not the bus driver, resulting in the enraged women chasing him. Owen escapes and rides a stolen horse to Silver City.
Merrill and Vera are given malicious road directions and crash their rental car. They happen upon a group trying to set a land speed record. They steal the rocket car and drive it until it runs out of fuel. Disoriented after hitting Mach 1, the two merge with a group of mental patients loading on a bus for Silver City
The Pear family visit a Klaus Barbie museum (mistaking it for a museum about the doll), where they steal Hitler's staff car, after the Cody brothers sabotage their rental van. When his family insists on ending the trip, Randy slips sleeping pills in their milkshakes. The Neo-Nazis find their stolen car, so Randy loads his sleeping family into a semi-truck headed for Silver City.
Nick chooses not to participate but changes his mind when he meets Tracy Faucet, who offers him a lift in her helicopter. Tracy uses her helicopter to attack her cheating boyfriend. Her aerobatics damage the helicopter, and they do a hard landing. They hijack the boyfriend's truck and drive to Silver City.
Enrico falls asleep at the start and wakes up hours later. Hailing a taxi, he is struck by an ambulance. Zack, the driver, offers Enrico a ride. Zack is going through Silver City on his way to deliver a transplant heart. Zack opens the cooler for Enrico to see the heart, which gets lost through the open passenger window. It is stolen by a dog, which is then electrocuted by an electric fence. Zack decides to kill Enrico for his heart. Enrico escapes by jumping onto a passing train to Silver City. He reaches the locker first, only to fall asleep before opening it.
The rest of the racers make it to the station at the same time and fight to open the locker, only to find it empty. Sinclair's assistant Grisham and Vicki, a call girl from Vegas, are driving off with the money. The locksmith maneuvers the balloon to drop the cow on Grisham. The locksmith jumps into the back seat. He ties the money to the balloon, which gets away from him. The racers chase the balloon in a stolen bus eventually crashing into a charity concert, where the dangling bag has snagged. The band (Smash Mouth) and crowd mistake the money for a donation.
The group doesn’t want to donate the money, but eventually does. Nick horrifies an arriving Sinclair and his partners by announcing that they will match any money raised. The racers dance while Sinclair cries over losing at least $19 million in his game.
- Breckin Meyer as Nicholas "Nick" Schaffer, a straight laced young attorney
- Amy Smart as Tracy Faucet, a competent helicopter pilot with rage issues and Nick's love interest
- Cuba Gooding Jr. as Owen Templeton, a disgraced football referee now infamous for a bad call
- Seth Green as Duane Cody, a ne'er do well looking to make money off insurance scams
- Vince Vieluf as Blaine Cody, Duane's unintelligible body piercing brother
- Lanei Chapman as Merrill Jennings, a high-strung businesswoman with some rage issues
- Whoopi Goldberg as Vera Baker, Merrill's superstitious mother, who gave Merrill up for adoption and is now reuniting with her
- Jon Lovitz as Randy Pear, a sneaky, irresponsible and recklessly opportunist tourist with an imbecilic yet mischievous expression and nature
- Kathy Najimy as Beverly "Bev" Pear, Randy's wife
- Brody Smith as Jason Pear, Randy and Bev's eldest son
- Jillian Marie Hubert as Kimberly Pear, Randy and Bev's younger daughter
- Rowan Atkinson as Enrico Pollini, a simple-minded narcoleptic Italian tourist
- John Cleese as Donald P. Sinclair, an eccentric Las Vegas billionaire and gambling mastermind
- Dave Thomas as Harold Grisham, Sinclair's assistant
- Wayne Knight as Zack Mallozzi, a medical supply driver with a habit of showing off his deliveries
- Silas Weir Mitchell as Lloyd, a hardware store owner and locksmith
- Paul Rodriguez as Gus, a taxi driver with a mischievous expression and nature
- Marcos Menendez as a secondary taxi driver
- Dean Cain as Shawn Kent, Tracy's ex boyfriend
- Brandy Ledford as Vicki, a call girl
- Colleen Camp as Rainbow House Nurse
- Ben Hartnell as a Crab
- Deborah Theaker as one of the Lucy Ball cosplayers
- Charlotte Zucker as an elderly Lucy Ball cosplayer
- Rance Howard as Feed the Earth Spokesman
- Gloria Allred as herself
- Smash Mouth as themselves
- Kathy Bates (uncredited) as a fervent but insidious squirrel seller
- Diamond Dallas and Kimberly Page (deleted scenes) as themselves
- Manoj Sood as a Saudi High Roller
Rat Race was initially written by Darryl Quarles as a spec script. By February 1999, the script had been sold to Hollywood Pictures and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In August 1999, Jerry Zucker was in negotiations to direct the film for Paramount Pictures from a screenplay written by Andy Breckman that would be set in Las Vegas, Nevada and in New Mexico.
Paramount hoped to begin production of the film in the end of 1999 or the beginning of 2000. Jerry and Janet Zucker were to produce the film alongside Sean Daniel, while Daniel's partner in Alphaville Films, James Jacks, would serve as executive producer. The filmmakers initially considered having the film's characters race from Las Vegas, Nevada to Las Vegas, New Mexico, but the idea was rejected following concerns that it might confuse viewers.
In January 2000, Las Vegas, Nevada was confirmed as a filming location for Rat Race. Location scouting in southern Nevada was scheduled for May 2000, while filming in the area was delayed until the fall of 2000, to avoid shooting the film in one hundred degree summer heat. Breckin Meyer and Amy Smart were cast in the film in June 2000, while Dean Cain also joined the cast in October.
Actor John Cleese praised the script as one of only two scripts during his career that he enjoyed: "It's so unusual to get a top class script. Twice in my life I've had the experience of reading a script and simply saying, 'I'm going to do this.'"
Filming began in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in August 2000. Filming took place primarily along Calgary's highways, which stood in as highways that the characters travel on in Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Desert scenes were shot in the Canadian town of Drumheller. Second unit filming began in Las Vegas on August 7, 2000, with scenes primarily involving Cuba Gooding Jr.
Scheduled filming locations included the Las Vegas Strip, Tropicana Avenue (east of the Las Vegas Strip), McCarran International Airport, and Nevada State Route 159. Other scheduled filming locations in Nevada included Goodsprings and Sandy Valley.
Scenes involving Gooding and the group of Lucy impersonators were shot in the Canadian Rockies. Jerry Zucker, who had a tradition of including his mother Charlotte in each of his films beginning with Airplane!, had her portray one of the Lucy impersonators. Jerry Zucker said, "It's like the Alfred Hitchcock signature. Instead of me, it's mom." Filming also took place at Calgary's former Currie Barracks military base, which had been converted to accommodate film and television productions.
Sound stages were constructed inside two aircraft hangars at the base to be used for many of the film's interior scenes, including the Venetian's hotel rooms and conference room. Driving scenes, using green screens and rear projection effects, were also shot inside the hangars. The scene with the coin toss by Owen Templeton was filmed at Calgary's McMahon Stadium.
Filming returned to Las Vegas for a nine day period beginning on September 20, 2000, with the first three days spent at the McCarran International Airport, before moving to the Venetian resort on the Las Vegas Strip for a six day shoot. Venetian officials negotiated with Paramount for six months to use the resort in the film. Scenes were shot throughout the Venetian, with the exception of its hotel rooms. Venetian scenes included the casino, lobby, and the entrance to its valet parking garage, as well as exterior shots of the resort. Approximately 1,000 background extras were needed during the second Las Vegas shoot. On September 25, 2000, second unit filming took place along Nevada State Route 161, leading to Goodsprings.
Filming in Las Vegas concluded on September 29, 2000, and production moved to Ely, Nevada, which stood in as Silver City, New Mexico. Ely's Nevada Northern Railway Museum stood in as the Silver City train station. According to the Nevada Film Office, the filmmakers "fell in love" with the museum after being shown pictures of it. As a result, the initial two day shoot in Ely was extended to six days. Ely's western entrance, accessed from U.S. Route 50, was used as the entrance to Silver City.
After concluding in Ely, production crews relocated to southern California for the final six weeks of filming, mainly for exterior scenes. California filming primarily occurred in Antelope Valley, Palmdale, Acton, Santa Clarita, and Newhall. Rosamond, California was also a primary location, with filming occurring during a three-week period in October 2000. Smart's helicopter scenes were filmed at 3118 Carnation Street in Rosamond. Additional filming in California occurred at Big Sky Ranch and El Mirage Lake.
Sinclair and the gamblers' eccentric habits are further exaggerated in deleted scenes, where they partake in many more ridiculous bets, including playing Monopoly with real money. In another scene, a high roller pretends to find what they are doing immoral. Professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page and his wife, Kimberly, had a cameo that was cut when test audiences failed to give his appearance any reaction. The scene is available on the DVD release.
Rat Race was released in both the United States and Canada on August 17, 2001 and grossed USD$11,662,094 in its opening weekend at the North American box office, ranking third behind American Pie 2 and Rush Hour 2. The film ultimately grossed $56.6 million domestically and $28.8 million overseas for a worldwide total of approximately $85.5 million based on a budget of an estimated $48 million, making it commercially successful.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on January 11, 2002 and opened also at number three behind the non comedic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. For the next two weekends, the film regained the spot, before moving down one place and then four places down before finally ending up on No. 10 on February 10, 2002.
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 44% "Rotten" rating based on 128 reviews with an average rating of 4.94/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Rat Race moves from one sight gag to another, but only a handful of them are genuinely funny." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 52 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
- "Rat Race (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 2001-08-29. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- Rat Race at Box Office Mojo
- Rabin, Nathan (16 May 2017). "WHY 2001'S RAT RACE IS A PERFECT PIECE OF ESCAPISM FOR MODERN TIMES". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
- Petrikin, Chris (24 February 1999). "Quarles' 'Mama' at Fox". Variety. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Fleming, Michael (6 August 1999). "Zucker at start of 'Race' for Par". Variety. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Cling, Carol (2 October 2000). "'Rat Race' trades glitter of Sin City for quiet climes in Ely". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 13 November 2002.
- Cling, Carol (31 January 2000). "Nevada locations featured in Super Bowl commercial". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 5 January 2002.
- Cling, Carol (1 May 2000). "Berenger in town to film 'Hollywood Sign'". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 26 September 2002.
- Brodesser, Claude (20 June 2000). "Off 'Road,' Meyer enters 'Race'". Variety. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- "Amy Smart". Variety. 28 June 2000. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Cling, Carol (18 September 2000). "Plethora of stars ride into Vegas for 'Rat Race'". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 21 November 2002.
- Fleming, Michael (12 October 2000). "Cain rolls into Par pic 'Race'". Variety. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Mills, Nancy (6 August 2001). "Cleese Pleased To Be In 'Rat Race' But Says State of Comedy Is No Laughing Matter". New York Daily News. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- "Rat Race: About The Production". Cinema Review. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- Cling, Carol (7 August 2000). "'Rat Race' rolls into Las Vegas for a week". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 29 March 2001.
- Cling, Carol (25 September 2000). "'Rat Race' filming in and around The Venetian; 'Magie' begins work". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 3 August 2002.
- Clarke, Norm (1 October 2000). "Whoopi whoops it up with jackpot". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Archived from the original on 23 August 2002.
- Herndon, Rudy (24 November 2006). "Film crew finishes Ely movie; another next week". The Ely Times. Retrieved 24 May 2017 – via NewsBank.
According to Tuffendsam, local residents can rest assured that "Play Dead" will not be another "Rat Race." That 2001 comic dud was filmed at several prominent locations around Ely, including the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. However, the filmmakers rechristened the town "Silver City, New Mexico" - much to the chagrin of some locals.
- Muttalib, Bashirah (11 October 2000). "Warners goes Downtown with new plaza façade". Variety. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for August 17–19, 2001 – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. 2001-08-20. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "Weekend box office 11th January 2002 - 13th January 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Weekend box office 18th January 2002 - 20th January 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Weekend box office 25th January 2002 - 27th January 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Weekend box office 1st February 2002 - 3rd February 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- "Weekend box office 8th February 2002 - 10th February 2002". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
- Rat Race at Rotten Tomatoes
- Rat Race at Metacritic
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
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