"It's a horse race with animals who think, and lie... and cheat... and play dirty!"
It's another great day in Las Vegas, and casino tycoon Donald Sinclair (John Cleese
) is getting bored
. So, six 'lucky' contestants are invited to meet with Sinclair for the gambling opportunity of a lifetime: a race to Silver City, New Mexico. The prize? A duffel bag stuffed with two million dollars, stored in a locker at the train station. Each contestant is given a key to this locker, with GPS locators, and turned loose. Along the way, in their panic to get to the finish line first they have capers involving Adolf Hitler's car, helicopters, demolition derbys, rocket cars, human hearts, and an I Love Lucy
convention. And cows. Seriously, the cow becomes quite important.
On the journey, they drag other people into the race, and the chaos increases.
Of course, it's never as simple as it sounds, since not only do the competitors have each other to play against, they have no idea that they are being gambled with by other multi-millionaires, betting on who will get there first. In repeated cuts back to the casino it is shown that these millionaires have no qualms about betting with other people's dignity.
Yes, it's an explicit ripoff/remake of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
, but it's easily as funny as the original.
The contestants, most of whom have or end up with allies:
- Owen Templeton (Cuba Gooding Jr): A football referee who announced the wrong winner after a coin toss and is now universally unpopular (except with Vera, who's not happy at her hair-stylist, who lost $800 on the game).
- Duane (Seth Green) and Blaine Cody (Vince Vieluf): Two brothers who are trying various get-rich-quick schemes. Blaine speaks incoherently due to a recent tongue piercing. Those Two Guys are a clear parody of Dingy Bell and Benjy Benjamin from the original film.
- Vera (Whoopi Goldberg) and Merrill (Lanei Chapman): Merrill is the long-lost daughter of Vera and the two have just met for the first time, when Merril is an adult and trying to launch her own business.
- The Pear family: Randy (Jon Lovitz) and Bev (Kathy Najimy), who are on vacation at the casino with their kids Jason (Brody Smith) and Kimberly (Jillian Marie Hubert). Possibly the stand in for the crazy dentist from the original movie.
- Nick Schaffer (Breckin Meyer) and Tracy Faucet (Amy Smart): Nick is a lawyer, the calmest and most intelligent of the contestants. At first he doesn't even care about the race, suspecting it to be some kind of scam, until the Cody Brothers sabotage the airport. Eventually he recruits Tracy, a hot-headed helicopter pilot, as transportation and Love Interest. The latter might be a parody on the semi-amateur pilot from the original movie.
- Enrico Pollini (Rowan Atkinson): An Italian tourist with narcolepsy. Perhaps the Funny Foreigner stand-in for Terry-Thomas' character from the original film.
Methods of travel used by the contestants include many types of cars, vans and trailers - including Adolf Hitler
's Mercedes Benz and a courier van transporting a human heart - a taxi, a helicopter, a train, a tour bus bound for an I Love Lucy
convention, a tour bus bound for a mental institution, a Monster Truck, a Hot Air Balloon, a rocket car, a horse, and when all else fails, your own two feet.
This film is an example of:
- Affably Evil: Donald Sinclair is really quite charming when he's not treating other people like toys.
- Ambiguous Gender: The bartender
Owen: Excuse me, miss? [Bartender turns around.] Oh, sorry! I thought you were a woman!
Bartender: I am a woman.
- Ambulance Chaser: Gloria Allred As Herself. She first runs over to help a hapless bystander injured by the Cody brothers' attempted con, and then sees Enrico getting hit by an ambulance, thus scaring Zach into driving off with him.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Owen and the bus driver.
Owen: And your hat.
Bus Driver: Why do you need my hat?
Owen: For her...her...vagina.
- The Big Race: Six contestants who are selected by a group of compulsive-gambler multi-millionaires to compete in a race from Las Vegas to Silver City, New Mexico for a two million dollar prize... hilarious hijinx ensue.
- Biker Babe: Not attractive. But really aggressive.
- Though not without reason - after all, both Mr. and Mrs. Pear had just flipped her off (Mr. Pear by accident and Mrs. Pear to badly demonstrate what he did), and Mr. Pear complimented her: "I really like your dyke... er, bike!"
- Bittersweet Ending: None of the main characters get to keep any of the money they spent the whole movie chasing after, but then again the money went to charity, none of the main characters get in severe trouble, legal or otherwise, and the Jerkass billionaires who were betting on the sick little game are going to end up giving a huge sum of their own money to charity.
- Bolt of Divine Retribution / Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Subversion/variation, with Tracy saying to the mechanic that rips them off that it was "unchristian", the mechanic replying asking for God to smite him... and then a rocket car drives by, and makes a sonic boom that knocks down his ramshackle garage.
- Brick Joke: Pollini's narcolepsy. Also cows.
- Mr. Pear: "The Volkswagen Beetle was used by the Nazis. I would not be comfortable driving around in one." Some hours later, the Pears are driving Hitler's car.
- The Cameo:
- Oscar winner Kathy Bates as the Crazy Squirrel Lady.
- And who knew Superman would cheat on his girlfriend?
- Plus Smash Mouth's concert at the end.
- Gloria Allred, probably the most noted (and ruthless) attorney in the country, as herself. Understandably, the characters have an Oh, Crap moment when they inadvertantly injure someone and she's around.
- Catch Phrase: Enrico keeps repeating, "Issa race!"
- Chekhov's Gun: A pickup truck carrying spare car parts. One of them falls off, Zach's ambulance runs over it, and it causes the heart to fall out of its container. Later, during the motorcycle gang attack on the Pears, they run it over, causing the cigarette lighter to fly into Randy's mouth.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Vicky the hooker.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Vera. She's actually excited by the prospect of getting scammed.
- Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Randy with a Hitler-moustache-looking lipstick smudge. Driving a Mercedes decked out in swastikas. Doing what appears to be Nazi salutes. As a burnt tongue makes his speech sound ambiguously German. To an audience of World War II veterans. And giving them the finger.
- Comeback Tomorrow: A non-insulting comeback: while Nick is flirting with Tracy. They're both reading the same biography of Charles Lindbergh, and she tells him that she's up to the part where "he's just had a sex change". A moment later he learns that she's a pilot.
Nick: Are there many female pilots?
Tracy: There's at least one.
Nick: When I walk away, I'm gonna think of something great to say to that.
Tracy: Good. Mail it to me.
- A few scenes later he comes back having realized the obvious comeback: "Two if you count Lindbergh."
- Cosmopolitan Council: The international consortium of Eccentric Millionaires
- Crazy Cat Lady: Crazy Squirrel Lady. She really loves those squirrels.
- And she is played by Kathy Bates. Which really doesn't help.
- Crowd Surfing: How the movie ends. Variety II.
- Dance Party Ending: The movie ends with all the characters dancing (and then stage-diving) at a Smash Mouth concert as the band played "All Star."
- Department of Redundancy Department:
Duane: What do you mean "that's it"? I'm not giving up! And neither are you! And neither am I!
- Diabolus Ex Machina: All of the money being accidentally donated to charity at the end. That's not to say charity isn't a good thing, but after all everyone went through, none of them got to keep a cent.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Done by the Cody brothers several times - to stop air traffic out of the airport, sabotage the Pear family's Ford Aerostar van, and to make a copy of the key so they can split up. The first time it works but they are delayed by buying a new car, the second time it makes no difference (Randy just steals another car) and the third time totally backfires when the clerk hears what the key is for and runs off with it.
- Disaster Dominoes: The whole film is full of them, and much of the humor is based around how things just get worse and worse.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Tracy upon seeing her boyfriend making out with his Ex.
- The Crazy Squirrel Lady and her 'shortcut' to those that don't buy a squirrel from her. Considering her very accurate directions, the number of cars there, and the skeleton that slides out of one, it looks like she's been doing it for a long time...
- The taxi driver who lost a bet because of Owen's bad call leaves Owen in the middle of the desert.
- Drives Like Crazy: Cranked Up to Eleven with a helicopter.
- Drop the Cow: One tied to an hot air balloon, nevertheless.
- Eccentric Millionaire: Sinclair. He even lampshades it.
"I can do whatever I like! I'm eccentric! Raowr!"
- Epic Race
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Duane eventually gives his share away because it's what his mother would have wanted.
- Everything's Better with Cows: First the Cody Brothers run into a herd of cows. Duane Cody collides with quite a few while holding onto a hot air balloon. Then one of those gets snagged by the balloon, becoming a Running Gag.
- Everything's Nuttier With Squirrels: The Squirrel Lady ends up giving Vera and Merill quite a lot of trouble...
- Fan Convention: Owen hijacks a bus heading to an I Love Lucy con, which is thus full of women (mostly women, anyway...) dressed as Lucy. A Deleted Scene showed that after the bus broke down, leaving them stranded, a second bus pulls over to help... full of men on their way to the same convention, dressed as Ricky.
- Finding A Bra In Your Car: A truck, actually.
- Freudian Slip / Verbal Backspace: "I really like your dyke ... BIKE!"
- Funny Foreigner: Enrico Pollini.
- Funny Background Event: After the Pears get pulled over (for having Kim poop out the window among other things), one of the officers is cleaning the windshield.
- Good Feels Good: As reluctant as Duane is to hand over his share of the money, when he does, he immediately leaps and cheers with everyone else.
- Got Volunteered: Done as a comeuppance to Sinclair and his associates at the end.
- Has a Type: Blaine is into girls who are as pierced as he is. It does him no good when he's driving and the brothers meet a pair of punk girls on the road. The one closest to Blaine starts to compare piercings and Blaine plays along, until she opens her shirt and shows nipple rings, with two chains attached that go down below... While Duane is briefly impressed but recovers, Blaine is so Distracted by the Sexy that he runs right off the road and into a monster truck rally.
- Heavy Sleeper: The narcoleptic Enrico.
- Involuntary Charity Donation: Sinclair & Co. are duped into helping the charity event.
- Karma Houdini: Two people commit pretty severe crimes, but are never seen again. Being a comedy this was probably intentional, since their acts are Played for Laughs and portrayed as Laser-Guided Karma themselves.
- The cab driver who maroons Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character in the desert, probably to die, just because he made a highly unpopular call in a football game that cost him money.
- The crazy squirrel lady has been implied to willingly cause the deaths of several people by tricking them into driving right off a cliff all because they didn't buy one of her squirrels.
- Last Minute Hookup: Implied with Owen and Merril; played straight with Blaine and the piercing-girl (who ALSO has a speech impediment).
- Lovely Assistant: Vera and Merrill steal the rocket car by pretending to be this for the team of scientists.
- A MacGuffin Full of Money: The prize awaiting the racers in Silver City.
- MacGuffin Melee: ...and what happens when they get there.
- Magical Defibrillator: When the courier Zack touches an electric fence while holding a heart. But it's Rule of Funny so it's okay.
- Mistaken for Pedophile: Pollini.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: For the most part of the race, Enrico is in dead last place, sleeping in the lobby. Then the Cody brothers stop all air traffic out of the airport, thus preventing a heart from being flown to El Paso for transplant. That heart gets put into a van to be driven there, and on the way it stops to pick up Enrico. After escaping the driver and catching a bullet train, Enrico gets to the locker before everyone else.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: First of all the Heart Courier is a little too eager to take a little peek at the human heart he's transporting. Then it takes him next to no time to consider killing a 'drifter' and cutting out his heart to replace it when it's lost. And about as much time to consider Enrico as that drifter. He looks pretty disappointed when Enrico gets away too...
- No Arc in Archery: A bullet running a straight line beside a supersonic car.
- No Respect Guy: Nick Schaffer.
- Nobody Poops: Subverted with Kimberley Pear. Poor girl.
Randy: What the hell does that mean?
: Oh... Oh!
I do not
want to picture that!
- Not So Above It All: Nick Schaffer starts out as the only one not convinced by Sinclair's too-good-to-be-true offer. But when he meets a helicopter pilot just as all the planes have been grounded, including all the other contestants…
- Oh, Crap
- Wayne Knight's character upon striking Enrico with his van... and the accident is seen by Gloria Allred.
(calling down from casino balcony) DON'T WORRY! I saw the whole thing, I'll be right down!
- Sean, Tracy's then-boyfriend, when he sees her helicopter approaching while having a Two-Person Pool Party with his "ex" Charlene. Hilariously, his first instinct is to dunk Charlene under the water, as if drowning the poor woman would hide her from Tracy.
- Only Sane Man: Nick Schaffer could be classed as this, as he has the sanest approach to finding a way to win, and the best idea when they get to meet Smash Mouth. Too bad he teams up with Tracy Faucet...
- Rich Boredom: the original reason for it.
- Running Gag:
- The high rollers keep making increasingly ridiculous bets on everything in sight.
- Owen keeps stealing clothes and the Cody brothers keep accidently ending up pursuing each other in cars.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Nick and Tracy.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Blaine.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays:
- Vera and Merrill. They should have bought a squirrel...
- The Cody brothers' great idea to split up so they can take different routes lands them in a lot of bother with a hardware store guy, a hot air balloon, and cows.
- A Simple Plan: Heading to Silver City doesn't sound so hard, right?
- Standard Snippet: "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" while Duane and Blaine sabotage the radar tower, "Ride Of The Valkyries" as Tracy does her helicopter attack.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Notably averted. Sinclair tells them that their key rings have tracking devices in them so he can track their progress, but this just makes them show up on a map graphic — everyone watching is confused when a traffic jam grinds all of them to a near-halt.
- Survival Mantra: As everything is going wrong around him, Owen just keeps driving the bus, repeating to himself, "Two million dollars. Two million dollars."
- Take Our Word for It: Silver City is said to be a small town; but the nearby monster truck rally and Smash Mouth Concert/Fundraiser seem to beg to differ.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Run a Barbie Museum... dedicated to Nazi official Klaus Barbie, not the doll. Then the Pears steal Adolf Hitler's car, (Or Nazimobile, as Randy calls it) which was on display.
They're always pissed, honey. They're Nazis. It's like it's their job.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Enrico Pollini, who is so absent-minded that he got hit by a speeding car for running onto the road trying to hail a taxi, and also crazy enough to jump onto a speeding train. Later he does show enough savviness to realize exactly what the Heart Courier wants when he starts asking him if he has any relatives that would miss him.
- The Cody brothers are good at this as well, mostly for failing to think their plans through all that well. The scene at the airport tower is a perfect example of this.
- Train Escape: Pollini jumps on a running high-velocity train - and embarks into it!
- The Unintelligible: Blaine Cody and the Piercing Girl due to their tongue piercings.
- Unstoppable Rage: Tracy's reaction to finding out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.
- We Meet Again: Owen gets into a taxi with a guy who lost forty thousand dollars on the game he called wrong. He gives him the slip at the airport, but then runs into him again on his way out. The taxi driver drops him off in the middle of the desert.
- Woman Scorned: Tracy goes instantly psycho when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her with his ex.
- Women's Mysteries: Invoked. In a subversion of Mugged for Disguise, Owen convinces the bus driver to give him his uniform by exploiting their mutual complete ignorance (and Squick) about childbirth.
- World of Ham: Only Breckin Meyer isn't a Large Ham.