Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Film Review for the Narrative Structure & Hollywood Formula

Rat Race

 Rat Race, in the cinemas in 2001, directed by Jerry Zucker, is a film in which a human rat race is performed for the delight of the wealthy betting audience, to provide unique entertainment. Sinclair (John Cleese, famous for Faulty Towers) is the owner of a hotel in Vegas and has to come up with new challenges to keep his patrons entertained, so he drops 6 gold coins to random people in the casino who he then invites to a meeting in the hotel pent house. At the meeting, he announces that it’s a race for 2 million dollars, gives every team a key (which has a tracker inside) and lets the betting commence as the teams are off. Rat Race is an action comedy and family entertainment which has lots of jokes and comedy sketches in every scene.

Fig 1. Rat Race Poster (2001)

 The 6 teams consist of Enrico, who suffers from narcolepsy; a mother and her long lost daughter; the brothers Cody with one of them not being able to speak properly (probably worsened through his tongue piercing); a Jewish family that was going on the first holiday for years; Nick who was initially not interested at all but then meets an attractive blonde woman and Owen, a football coach who’s just gotten incredibly unpopular by calling a super bowl game incorrectly costing one of the teams the match.

  All teams race to Silver City where the 2 million await them whilst trying to sabotage the other teams, for example when the Cody brothers break the communication at the airport they force everyone else into land vehicles – except for Nick, who catches a ride with the pretty blonde girl who turns out to be a helicopter pilot.

 At the first glance the teams splitting up creates a structure consists of mini plots, but since they all lead together by the end of the film it could be better interpreted as an arc plot where every team has their own arc which simultaneously leads to the same outcome in the end. This explanation also leans towards a 3 act structure with the initiation being the first 20 minutes or so where Sinclair and the teams are being introduced and the race being announced. Act 2 is the race itself, which also takes up the biggest part of the film and has the most action. Act 3 offers the conclusion in which they all discover that the locker is empty, chase after the money which was stolen by a hooker and end up giving it all to charity.

Fig 2. Race Ending (2001)

 This leads to the ending of the film which can be described as a partially closed ending as all the characters have contributed their bit to the story and there seem to be no open ends left. It is not a closed ending as all the characters are still alive and by a very unlikely stroke of fate, they could potentially have future adventures together.

  Rat Race has the typical 3 Act structure that has been used over and over again and proven effective, paired with and arc plot with every team having their own little arc, but altogether remains at arc 2 having many varied elements in different places but still plays together with 3 arcs in total. The ending is partially closed as every character is open to their own future but all the strands that were shown in the film were closed and doesn’t leave the audience with more questions than answers. Altogether, this film is a great easy comedy to watch it once or multiple times and is suitable for children and family viewing, my personal score would be 7/10.

Illustration List:

Picture 1. Jerry Zucker (2001). Rat Race Poster [Rat Race still] available from:  http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TVH6J6YDL.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)
Picture 2. Jerry Zucker (2001). Race Ending [Rat Race still] available from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/aa/88/cd/aa88cd88397723794e4f5069a5e2391a.jpg (accessed on 20/10/15)

1 comment:

  1. Check out a similar film called 'It's a mad mad mad mad world' from 1963. It's another (but better) star studded ensamble cast going on a treasure hunt. That one is over 3 hours long (4 hours in its original cinema release). It's hard to fit that many stories into one structure that lasts a reasonable amount of time.