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Here's an outlandish idea: send contestants, one against the other, off on a cross-country contest to win a large bundle of cash. No, this isn't Survivor III, it's Rat Race, the latest comedy from the makers of Airplane!, Top Secret!, and The Naked Gun. Jerry Zucker's famous string of outrageous sight-gag comedies in the '80s and early '90s set a new standard for madcap comedy, attempting to get more than a laugh per minute. Back then, of course, they were considered rather lowbrow, but hilarious. Compared to today's gutter-dwelling comedies that depend on the profane and the taboo for shock-value laughs, Zucker's movies seem clever and old-fashioned. Will that old Zucker magic still make audiences laugh? Loosely based on the classic madcap farce It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and starring comic geniuses John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson alongside Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and Oscar hostess Whoopi Goldberg, Rat Race scored high in this week's box office top ten.
Preview's Paul Bicking calls Rat Race "questionable at best." He faults "less-than-humorous sight gags," the fact that the characters use some questionable language and, in the midst of this farce's zaniness, "some of the characters actually lie to each other." And Douglas Downs at Christian Spotlight on the Movies is greatly distressed: "Zucker, who soared in the comedy Airplane! and the romantic drama Ghost, crash lands in this film. His 80-plus cast did provide work for three of his family members (how nice). Too bad his cast didn't work to provide a decent comedy. Where are Red Skelton, Buddy Hackett, Bill Cosby, and Jonathan Winters when you need them? Ninety minutes never seemed so long."
But Movieguide's critic points out that these characters' ...1
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