RAT RACE pits six Vegas winners of a special gold coin in a race to be the first to reach Silver City, New Mexico and a bag containing 2 million dollars. The invention of eccentric casino owner Donald Sinclair (John Cleese), the contestants are unaware they are nothing more than human horses running for a finish line so Sinclair's group of money-laden international gamblers can bet on the winner.
Needless to say the trip across the desert is anything but orderly, as contestants steal and swindle their way into cars, trains, helicopters, balloons, buses and every other form of transportation available. The wide range of personalities include a recently reunited mother and daughter who were separated at birth (Whoopi Goldberg and Lanai Chapman), a careful law abiding lawyer (Breckin Meyer), a football referee who is a national disgrace after flubbing a recent coin toss (Cuba Gooding Jr.), an Italian tourist suffering from narcolepsy (Rowan Atkinson), a couple of con-artist brothers (Vince Vieluf and Seth Green), and a family of four led by their gambling addicted father (Jon Lovitz).
Even at its over two hour run time, squeezing this many characters into a script is reminiscent of pranks involving college students and a Volkswagen--and the writing is at the same level of intelligence. Sinclair shows his rich buddies a good time by betting on anything, including how much a prostitute will charge to provide a sexual fantasy for his executive assistant. Meanwhile, the action on the open road features a couple of mad racers hanging from a live cow unfortunate enough to be tangled in a hot air balloon tether, squirting milk from the animal's udder at each other. Or a father so intent with winning the race that he refuses to pull over for a bathroom break and makes his daughter hang her buttocks out the window as he continues driving, and later resorts to putting sleeping pills in his family's milkshakes.
While some may find an occasional laugh, Rat Race is packed with distasteful attempts at humor (like a Barbie museum that turns out to be a shrine honoring Klaus Barbie) and role models who are prepared to do anything for money.