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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The cast boasts racial and ethnic diversity, but there is some mocking of certain ethnicities, most notably Italians courtesy of Rowan Atkinson. Nonetheless, all characters are equally mocked, sending a positive message of unity and respect wrapped in giddy silliness. Many characters are willing to scheme and steal to beat out their rivals, but such scheming usually meets comic comeuppance.
Positive Role Models
All of the characters are lovable (though not very realistic), and generally very sympathetic. At the movie's end, all the characters are called upon to make a difficult, self-sacrificing choice and all opt to do the right thing.
Violence & Scariness
Near-constant and sometimes tense cartoonish violence, with many car crashes, a helicopter accident, a monster truck coming within inches of crushing two characters, etc. No one actually gets hurt, however.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An escort is summoned to a hotel room and an unusual erotic situation is priced; a woman flashes a man on the highway and we see her breast from the side; there are numerous references to cross-dressing and several to a racist-sounding porn movie. A woman lands a helicopter on her ex-boyfriend's hot tub as penance for him cheating on her.
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Lots of colorful phrases: "What the hell?" "Son of a bitch!" There's also potty humor, as when one young child says she has to go #2 so bad she's "prairie dogging."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A few scenes take place in bars, and characters buy each other drinks. One man feeds his family over-the-counter sleep meds to keep them out of the way.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rat Race is a slapstick comedy in the tradition of Airplane!, with mile-a-minute jokes and lots of absurdity. There are toilet jokes and gross-out jokes, such as when one character vanquishes a rival by shooting him in the face with milk from a cow's udder. There is racial humor, gun humor, and tons of scenes in which fast-moving cars and buses go off the road and careen down hills. There is drinking, gambling, and a scene in which an escort prices a list of odd sexual services. For all this, Rat Race is cheerfully loony and quite funny, with a brilliant cast and enough jokes that if one misses there's another to get you chuckling again. Unshockable parents will enjoy watching this with older kids. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is a loving salute to the spirit of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, a splendid salute to slapstick that featured just about everyone who happened to be in Hollywood in 1965. Rat Race is outrageous, cheerfully vulgar, undeniably lowbrow, and very, very funny. Director Jerry Zucker, shows the sure hand with sight gags that brought us Airplane!. While this one does not have that movie's surreal moments of comic ecstasy, its stronger narrative coherence and more interesting characters make it almost as satisfying.
All of the performances are delights. Kathy Bates's brief cameo as a woman who really likes squirrels and Amy Smart's expression when she dive-bombs her cheating boyfriend (Dean Cain), Vieluf's encounter with his multi-pierced dream girl, Seth Green's encounter with a monster truck rally, and Kathy Najimy's encounter with the Barbie Museum are among the funniest movie moments in years. And the final resolution beats It's a Mad...World by a thousandfold.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.