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 GPS-tracker key to this locker and turned loose. Along the way, in their panic to get to the finish line first, the contestants have capers involving Adolf Hitler's car, a helicopter, a demolition derby, a rocket car, a human heart, and an I Love Lucy fan convention. And a cow. 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 a loose ripoff/remake of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
The contestants and their 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.
- 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 Merrill 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).
- 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.
- Enrico Pollini (Rowan Atkinson): An Italian tourist with narcolepsy.
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, their own two feet.
This film is an example of:
- Actor Allusion: John Cleese's character is named Donald Sinclair, who was also the eccentric hotelier that provided the inspiration for Basil Fawlty in Cleese's show Fawlty Towers.
- Adolf Hitlarious: See Coincidental Accidental Disguise below.
- Affably Evil: Donald Sinclair is really quite charming when he's not treating other people like toys.
- Alliterative Title: Rat Race''.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: The "Barbie Museum" is dedicated to Klaus Barbie. Klaus Barbie was a real-life SS officer who actually was nicknamed "The Butcher of Lyon".
- 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.
- Arab Oil Sheikh: One of the high rollers is a clearly affluent Arab who expresses dismay that his contestant, Enrico, fell asleep in the lobby.
- Artistic License Physics: The bullet fired from the greedy mechanic's revolver flies alongside Vera and Merrill's rocket car as a gag to demonstrate how fast they're going even though the vehicle is said to have exceeded Mach 1 (the speed of sound in air)note . In reality, most bullets go roughly 2.5 times faster than Mach 1 on average.
- Bat Deduction: Blaine sees the Pears' minivan and deduces that it must be Randy without actually seeing 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 Damn Kiss: Tracy gives one on Nick after her helicopter hijinks lead to a forced landing. It's enough to convince him to come along.
- 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!" Also, driving around a car decorated with swastikas tends to inspire anger.
- 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 "un-Christian", 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. Next to another Volkswagen Beetle.
- 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.
- A deleted scene shows that Owen ended up so close to Silver City because after being chased by the stranded Lucys, he snuck into a house that was being moved by truck. Said house was owned by Diamond Dallas Page, who delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Owen, and throws him off the house.
- Captain Oblivious: While the contestants are making a dash for the airport, the Cody brothers are looking at a map trying to find it. Behind them, a plane is coming in for a landing.
- Catchphrase: 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 (though she might have just been too dumb to know what it meant.)
- Enrico, but what did you expect from someone played by Rowan Atkinson?
- 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.
- Colony Drop: Referenced. When everyone arrives in the suite, Donald Sinclair tells them that an asteroid is going to destroy Earth and he's picked them to help repopulate the planet. After giving them a moment to be horrified, he then bursts into laughter, saying he couldn't resist.
- 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." He then has to recap because Tracy had forgotten the joke.
- Contrived Coincidence: The movie has so many of them it's difficult to know where to start - but that's part of the fun.
- Cosmopolitan Council: The international consortium of Eccentric Millionaires
- Crazy Cat Lady: Crazy Squirrel Lady, played by Kathy Bates. She really loves those squirrels.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Played for laughs. After Tracy discovers him cheating with his ex-girlfriend and takes off in his truck with Nick, Sean has the nerve to tell Nick to stay away from his girlfriend if he knows what's good for him. Tracy responds by closing his head in the car window while it's still running, stuffing his ex's bra in his mouth, and then dropping him like a sack of potatoes on the freeway.
- Credits Gag: The end credits disclaimer reads: "American Humane Association monitored the animal action. No animal was harmed in the making of the film. Only actors were harmed in the making of this film."
- Cute and Psycho: Tracy, if the attack on her boyfriend is any indicative. The Squirrel Lady too.
- 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."
- Dark Horse Victory: Subverted. Grisham and Vicki seem like they're about to get away with the prize money, leaving the actual contestants in the dust... and then a cow falls on them.
- Deadpan Snarker:Donald Sinclair: Theoretically, you have been racing for about 40 seconds now, and so far, Mr. Schaefer is winning, because he's nearest to the door!
- 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!
- Deranged Taxi Driver: Incompetent NFL ref Owen Templeton catches a ride with a seemingly friendly cab driver while racing to get to a cash prize; unfortunately, he doesn't realize the driver lost a bet on a football game because of Owen's botched call. The driver ends up stranding him in the middle of the desert in his boxers.
- 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 their car is destroyed in the process, so they have to rent a new one (from a trainee no less), the second time 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.
- Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Lampshaded when Randy Pear steals Hitler's touring car after the family ends up at a Klaus Barbie museum (which has no connection to the doll whatsoever):Jason: I can't believe it, Dad. You stole Adolf Hitler's Mercedes-Benz.
Randy: Well, Hitler had it comin'. What goes around comes around.
Kimberly: Dad, they're gonna be pissed.
Randy: Eh, they're always pissed, Honey. They're Nazis. It's like it's their job.
- Disaster Dominoes: The whole film is full of them, and much of the humor is based around how things just get worse and worse.
- Disposable Vagrant: Zack agonizes over the poor condition of the heart he was transporting before deciding to find one of these to "get" a replacement. He then asks Enrico about his background.
- 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.
- Distracted by the Sexy: What happens to the Cody Brothers while driving when they look at a women's interesting nipple piercings. Which leads them to be ambushed by a monster truck rally
- Drives Like Crazy: Cranked Up to Eleven with a helicopter.
- Drop the Cow: One tied to an hot air balloon, nevertheless.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite that nobody keeps the money, all 6 teams still get something for all their troubles in the end. Owen is no longer unpopular for picking the wrong winner, Merrill may start a relationship with him, Vera gets to spend time with her daughter, the Pears get the family quality time of their lives, Blair has a new girlfriend, his brother Duane has turned over a new leaf, Nick and Tracy start a relationship with each other, and Enrico... well, he was happy to begin with.
- Eating the Eye Candy: When Owen has a breakdown and strips off his (stolen) bus driver uniform in front of the Lucys, the one that's a Drag Queen is clearly enjoying the show.
- Eccentric Millionaire: Sinclair. He even lampshades it.Sinclair: I can do whatever I like! I'm eccentric! Raowr!
- Epic Race
- "Eureka!" Moment: Nick at first decides not to participate in what he believes to be a scam anyway, but when he finds out that Tracy's ability to fly a helicopter to Roswell, New Mexico is unaffected by the Cody brothers' sabotaging the radar system for fixed wing, he realizes he could use that to his advantage. When she asks him if he needs a ride, he frantically runs back to the trash can in which he threw away his key to re-retrieve it.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Duane eventually gives his share away because it's what his mother would have wanted.
- 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.
- Fetish: Blaine clearly has a thing for piercings; sporting several himself and becoming very interested in a girl covered in them.
- Finding a Bra in Your Car: A truck, actually.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: One of the cows Blaine hits has spots in the shape of the world map.◊
- Foreshadowing: Randy and Beverly Pear tell Cody he can forget about buying the Volkswagen Beetle when he's old enough to drive, as it was used by the Nazis, thereby implying they are Jewish. This is further affirmed when they stop by what they think to be a Barbie Doll Museum, only to find out it's actually the KLAUS Barbie Museum, employed by a group of Neo-Nazis who idolize Klaus Barbie as if he were a hero.
- Freudian Slip/Verbal Backspace: "I really like your dyke ... BIKE!" Bev immediately Facepalms when Randy does this.
- From Bad to Worse: After being told to go to Silver City, New Mexico, the contestants come up with the idea to take a charter flight to the airport nearest there and make their way over, except for Enrrico, who suffered a bout of narcolepsy, and Nick who thought the whole thing was a scam. Duane and Blaine couldn't secure plane tickets, so they decide to destroy the airport's radar antenna. Hilarity Ensues.
- 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.
- Funny Foreigner: Enrico Pollini.
- The Gambling Addict: Along with betting on the contestants, Sinclair and his associates bet on some other things to pass time - namely, the first chocolate the butler will find, how much money will a hooker bill for a ridiculous sex act, and who will puke first as they fly to New Mexico (the pilot is deliberately shaking the plane).
- Genki Girl: Tracy.
- Go Look at the Distraction: After Enrico catches on to Zack's plan to use his heart as a replacement, he implements this to flee.Enrico: Oh, look, a dreefter! Let's kill him!
- 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.
- Heads or Tails?: Owen fumbled the coin toss at a crucial football game and, as a result, is mocked by everyone who recognizes him for making such a basic error. He defends himself by pointing out that he was given a commemorative coin with a design that made it hard to tell which side of the coin was which.
- Heavy Sleeper: The narcoleptic Enrico.
- Hellish Copter: Tracy uses her helicopter to exact revenge on her cheating boyfriend. It subsequently overheats, leading to a forced landing.
- Honest John's Dealership: The mechanic who overcharges Tracy $500 for fixing their truck with $20 worth of lubricants and sealant. When she objects to his "un-Christian" lack of ethics, he jokes that the Lord should give him a sign; Cue the Flying Pigs when the rocket car sonic booms past his garage and it implodes.
- Humans Are Bastards: Played for laughs in this instance. The immoral and desperate crap people would pull on each other and even their own loved ones for $2 million though the ending is kind of a subversion.
- Even from those who weren't racing like the organ delivery guy who was willing to kill a drifter when he lost it or the Vegas cabbie who left Owen in the desert since he lost money from Owen's bad call.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- After the Pear family steals the Nazi mobile, Jason is seen in the back playing Hitler's harmonica, much to the dismay of his father, Randy, who orders him to stop. At the end of the movie, after donating the money to charity and everyone starts dancing to Smash Mouth's "All Star" song, out of nowhere Randy pulls out said harmonica and starts playing it jubilantly to the beat of the music. Notwithstanding all of the events we witness between the Nazi mobile theft and the charity concert, it would have made one heck of a Gilligan Cut.
- While Duane and Blaine are getting a duplicate key made:Duane: You remember where we're going?
Blaine: [mumbles] Silver City, New Mexico.
Duane: Right, train station, locker zero-zero-one. [Lloyd quietly eavesdrops on the conversation while making the duplicate key]
Blaine: [mumbles] 'Ero ero one.
Duane: Rule number one: discretion. Don't talk to anybody.
Blaine: [mumbles] I won't, I promise.
Duane: I'm serious, we're talking about $2 million dollars, in cash. People would just kill us to get their hands on that key.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: The Pears make up the following excuse to leave the Klaus Barbie museum:Neo-Nazi Tour Guide: You're leaving?
Randy: What? [laughs nervously] No— Yes, well, we have a 4:30 book burning... and then we have a—
Beverly: Another christening.
Randy: Yes, a christening... for another one of our many, white, Christian, non-Jewish, uh... friends—
Randy: Family, relatives—
Beverly: Blood relatives.
Randy: The Himmler... Himmler-Hesse... von... Sturichenbergs.
- Also, when Tracy asks Nick what happened to his friend who is being treated in Silver City, he comes up with the implausible lie that they were bitten by a shark and was rushed to Silver City because "they have a good shark attack unit there."
- Involuntary Charity Donation: What the $2 million end up becoming. Sinclair & Co. are also duped into helping the charity event.
- Just Train Wrong: The train that Enrico hops into resembles a German ICE, but aside from the Acela trainsets running between Washington and Boston, is nothing like an American passenger train.
- Karma Houdini: Notwithstanding all the hell each set of contestants has to go through along the way to Silver City, only to arrive and end up being strongly persuaded to give up the money that represented the reason behind their journey in the first place, none of the characters are ever punished for the crimes they commit along the way. This includes, but is not limited to, speeding and reckless driving in general; the Cody brothers' sabotaging the airport radar system, vandalizing the Pears' van in the Barbie Museum parking lot, and later stealing a monster truck from a monster truck rally; the Pears' subsequently stealing Adolf Hitler's Mercedes Benz upon discovering the damage done to their vehicle; Merrill and Vera Baker stealing a rocket car on public display; Tracy's pursuit of Shawn in the helicopter chase scene, followed by her and Nick siphoning gas from a police car; Owen impersonating a bus driver and forcing the real bus driver to give him his clothes as if to leave him stranded, and Enrico Pollini stowing away on a train. Unlike the contestants in its predecessor, the contestants in this film are ultimately praised for their apparent generosity at the benefits concert.
- Kinky Role-Playing: Harold, the casino owner's personal secretary, invites a prostitute and presents her with a rather creative proposal. After she names a price for this particular "date", it turns out that Donald Sinclair and his clients were all placing bets on it.Vicki: So Harry, what can I do for you?Harold Grisham: Okay... here's what I want. First we both get naked.Vicki: So far so good.Harold Grisham: Except... we're both wearing sailor hats. Then we get into a jacuzzi filled with Pepto-Bismol, I clip your toenails, and you shave my buttocks.Vicki: Pardon me?Harold Grisham: Naked, Jacuzzi, Pepto-Bismol, toenails, shave my buttocks. How much would that cost?Vicki: Harry, you have quite an imagination.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: The bartenderOwen: Excuse me, miss? [Bartender turns around] Oh, sorry! I thought you were a woman!
Bartender: I am a woman.
- Laser-Guided Karma: On the other hand, Sinclair and the millionaires who caused the whole thing get their just desserts, being forced to donate whatever ends being gathered by the benefits concert, which rises by the minute. Sinclair understandably screams.
- Last-Minute Hookup: Implied with Owen and Merril; played straight with Blaine and the piercing-girl (who ALSO has a speech impediment).
- Line-of-Sight Name: When the Pear family (who hasn't revealed their real family name) is about to leave the Klaus Barbie museum full of Neo-Nazi skinheads, they say they're the "Himmler... Himmler-Hesse... von... Sturichenbergs."
- 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.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: As pictured above, none of the eight actors are directly above their names. For starters, Whoopi Goldberg is standing on Cuba Gooding's name.
- In the case of Vince Vieluf, his agent tried to pressure the studio to give him top billing, and not only did the studio not do so, he was omitted from any promotional material. Vince fired his agent soon after.
- Mistaken for Pedophile: Pollini after his key is taken by a baby.
- Menacing Museum: The Pear family decide to take a break from their journey to visit a Barbie museum at the daughter's insistence. It turns out to be a museum dedicated to infamous Nazi Klaus Barbie and run by Neo-Nazis. The Pears are implied to be Jewish, making this especially troubling for them.
- Nice Guy: The scientists conducting the rocket car experiment. When Vera and Merrill stumble into the area, one of the scientists immediately gives them water to slake their thirst, and after they steal the rocket car, none of the scientists are angry (not even the designated driver). Instead, they celebrate when the experiment proves successful.
- 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.
- When Nick and Tracy siphon gas from a police car. Duane and Blaine speed past, and the cop decides to stop them, but since most of the gas in his tank has been siphoned, he rolls to a stop about a mile down the road, allowing them to get away.
- 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.Kimberley: Dad, I'm prairie-dogging it!
Randy: What the hell does that mean?
Jason: You know, how prairie-dogs stick their heads in and out of the ground.
Randy: Oh... Oh! I do not want to picture that!
- Noodle Implement: When Harold Grisham invites Vicky into his room, he makes a strange proposal:Vicky: So, Harold, what can I do for you?
Harold: Okay, here's what I want: First we both get naked.
Vicky: So far, so good.
Harold: Only we're wearing sailor hats.
Harold: And then we get into a jacuzzi filled with Pepto-Bismol... and I clip your toenails... and you shave my buttocks.
- When she mentions that it would cost $3,000, it turns out that some odds makers were hiding behind the curtain.
- 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
- Randy eventually admits that the "Hitlermobile" really is a beautiful car, pointing out the lovely mahogany. And at the end of the film, he's playing Hitler's harmonica at the concert."ARE YOU INSANE?! THIS IS HITLER'S CAR!!"
- Oh, Crap!
- Wayne Knight's character upon striking Enrico with his van... and the accident is seen by Gloria Allred.
- 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.
- The Cody brothers realizing a monster truck is on the way.
- 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...
- OOC Is Serious Business: Vera, who has been invariably cheerful and affable throughout entire movie despite all hardships that befallen her — a complete opposite of her short-fused daughter Merrill — finally loses her temper near the end of the movie, when she grabs the doctor by her throat and furiously demands to open the bus' door. Even Merrill seems nonplussed by her mother's sudden angry outburst.
- The Pollyanna: Enrico. His innocuous comments are treated with sarcasm or dismissal by the other characters, and as revealed later in the film, he's got no blood relatives left alive. And he's narcoleptic. In spite of these things, he's easily the happiest and most optimistic character in the film.
- Precision F-Strike: Blaine delivers one when he notices the locksmith stole their key... if the audience can understand it.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: As Vera and Merrill are rolling down a hill after being given directions by the squirrel lady, there are signs which give the following message: YOU. SHOULD. HAVE. BOUGHT. A. SQUIRREL.
- Refusal of the Call: Nick initially throws his key in the trash. Then the control tower is down, Tracy offers him a helicopter ride, and he turns the bin upside down to get the key back.
- Rich Boredom: The original reason for the race is a bored billionaire wanting to gamble on random people's humiliation.
- Running Gag:
- The high rollers keep making increasingly ridiculous bets on everything in sight.
- Owen keeps stealing clothes and the Cody brothers keep accidentally ending up pursuing each other in cars.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Nick and Tracy.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Blaine, when he sees the jeep being dragged up the radar tower.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: None of the characters get a dime of the prize money; some of them are still in dire need of some money as they went broke during the events, ruined their careers or are on the run. For example, Tracy's earlier attack against her former boyfriend means she will have her pilot's license revoked, leaving her without a job, and will probably end up serving serious jail time (she outright admits this after crashing the helicopter). Not to mention, she has officially lost her boyfriend forever (though the guy was cheating on her, and she and Nick seem to be getting along).
- Schmuck Bait: The two million dollars in Silver City. After being told about the race, the contestants take a moment to talk about how there's obviously something shifty going on with the whole deal, and Nick mentions that Sinclair makes his fortune playing people for chumps, and everyone decides that it's not worth upending their plans to play his game. Cut to just about everyone except Nick racing down the stairs.
- Shell-Shock Silence: The sequence where the Cody brothers struggle to leave their about-to-be-crushed car (even though it's a convertible...) plays in slow motion with only the engine of the incoming monster truck as noise.
- 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?
- Simpleton Voice: Blaine Cody, due to his swollen and badly infected tongue the result of a self-piercing gone wrong.
- 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, "Brindisi" when the Codys are chasing the keymaker.
- 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."
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When the Pears are leaving the Barbie Museum and the Neo-Nazis ask them why, they explain they have a variety of non-Jewish activities on their agenda, which is almost another way of saying upfront that they aren't Jewish, despite the fact that none of the neo-Nazis even asked them about their race or religion in the first place. The confused look on each tour guide's face confirms that there's something not quite right about the Pears' explanation for their sudden departure.
- 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.
- It's possible that the track where the monster truck rally is held is frequented by people living in different towns miles away from Silver City, and the county fairgrounds, where the charity concert takes place, may be the cheapest venue that allowed them to play, and people were bussed in from Silver City, or other nearby towns. Dubious, but possible.
- Tempting Fate: When Billy Ray the mechanic charges Nick and Tracy a jacked-up price for fixing their car:Nick: About how much we owe you?
Billy Ray: 500 bucks.
Tracy: For what? For 2 quarts and sealant? No, that's 20 bucks, tops. Here's 40 dollars, that's double what it's worth.
Billy Ray: [pulls out a gun] Hold it! Another little tool no mechanic should be without!
Nick: [reluctantly] Fine, here's your money... But let me tell you something, Billy Ray. What goes around comes around.
Tracy: This is so un-Christian!
Billy Ray: Un-Christian? Ha! Well, if the good Lord doesn't like the way I conduct business, let him say something! Let him gimme a sign. Oh Lord, I'm here, and I'm listening! Helloooooo!
[Veera and her daughter zoom by in their rocket car, and Billy Ray's garage and gas station collapse from the sonic boom]
- Those Wacky Nazis: Some Neo-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!
- Travelling at the Speed of Plot: Nick explicitly states that he and Tracy have roughly a three hour lead on the others. Their very next scene, not long after, has them obliviously cross paths with the Cody brothers.
- The Unintelligible: Blaine Cody and the Piercing Girl due to their tongue piercings.
- Universal Driver's Licence: Averted a little with Owen trying to start the bus, and Vera and Merrill having to ask how to start the jet-car after sneaking into it during the press conference.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: How Owen finds out not all Lucys are the same.
- Unstoppable Rage: Tracy's reaction to finding out her boyfriend has been cheating on her.
- Viva Las Vegas!: Although the first part of the movie takes place there, the characters are in town on vacation or business, and make their way out of town when the billionaire club tells them to go get the money in Silver City, New Mexico.
- We Meet Again: Owen gets into a taxi with a guy who lost twenty 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.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Zack is never seen or heard from again after his running into an electric fence jump-starts the heart transplant, so we can only wonder if the heart ever made its way to the transplantee...
- Grisham, Vicky, the key store employee, and that cow, are never seen or mentioned again after the car they're in crashes. Did they die?
- In a deleted scene, they're in the process of being arrested by the police.
- Woman Scorned/Yandere: 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.
- You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: A number of Sinclair's high rollers are shocked when Enrico falls asleep before he even leaves the casino lobby.
- Zerg Rush: The Lucys, when they learn that Owen is not a real bus driver but a phony who ruined their bus and thus their vacation.