[box cover]

Rat Race

The box for Rat Race actually features the ad tag-line, "You will laugh 'till you cry." Sandie Newton of CBS-TV said that somewhere. Newton didn't say that she laughed until she cried. She says you will. Well, you won't. But you will laugh. Rat Race proves to be a much funnier film than you think it is going to be, and in most ways much better than its obvious primogenitor It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The stories are similar. Rat Race begins in Vegas, where a hotel owner (John Cleese, with what looks like impossibly white dentures) picks a handful of visitors at random and tells the group's members that they have been selected to participate in a race to a post-office box in New Mexico for a $2 million jackpot. Meanwhile high rollers secretly bet on their progress. Among the rat-racers are a reviled football ref (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), a woman (Whoopi Goldberg) reuniting with her daughter, a family man on vacation (Jon Lovitz), and several regular joes, including Breckin Meyer, who ends up partnered with an aviatrix (the delightful Amy Smart) who has just dumped her boyfriend (Dean Cain). Some of the humor in Rat Race is gross (Wayne Knight and Rowan Atkinson and the heart slated for a transplant); some of it is actually funny (the physical hijinks featuring Seth Green and Vince Vieluf); much of it falls flat. But then, this is a movie from Jerry Zucker, that dumb-and-dumber ancestor to today's hottest comedy film writer-directors, and like them he throws in everything and waits to see what sticks to the wall. Paramount's DVD of Rat Race offers an impeccable anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), with audio in Digital Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround (French Surround and English subtitles are also on board). The platter is loaded with extras. Besides the theatrical trailer and an eight-minute video interview with Zucker and screenwriter Andy Breckman, there's a 22-minute "making-of" featurette in which all the actors praise each other, six deleted scenes, three minutes of outtakes, plus another outtake in which Green and Vieluf suffer a case of the giggles. Most clever of all is "Jerry and Andy Call the Actors," in which the director and writer ambush 13 cast members and draw out their candid reaction to the film, a feature which exists in place of a commentary track (Amy Smart offers up the most charming and guileless chat, from her car phone as she's driving home; Atkinson sounds the most different from his screen persona). Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm



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