Elderly multi-millionaire businessman Milton Parker (Vincent Price) is sitting up in bed playing an elaborate electronic board game with his nurse one night when he passes away. As he had a lot of money to go around, his relatives arrive soon after for the reading of the will to see if they can grab a portion of his estate, but once they are all assembled, what they hear is not what they expect at all. Parker was a fan of games and has devised a scavenger hunt to see who runs away with hundreds of millions of dollars: the prize will go to whoever collects the most items on the list.
Yes, it's time for another retread of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and as with that film a lot of the stars appearing here were of the type you would see regularly on television should you have been an avid follower of the medium back in the seventies. Despite being neglected when it was first released, and even today for that matter, Scavenger Hunt has wormed its way into the hearts of those who may have caught it over the years, and one must not underestimate the power of nostalgia to making even the least promising entertainment palatable.
I mean, where else would you see a cast like that? You have Roddy McDowall as Parker's butler, who with the rest of the staff is also part of the chase, Cloris Leachman as Parker's sister whose double dealing family, including sneaky lawyer Richard Benjamin, are essentially the film's villains, Richard Mulligan striking out on his own as a cab driver who happens to be in the right place at the right time, Tony Randall as a harrassed father dragging his brood around with him, and Dirk Benedict and his team representing the normal people in their orange van.
I've barely scratched the surface of the star wattage we're dealing with here, and if you're underwhelmed by the names I've mentioned, then this film is not for you. It's also not for you if you have in any way a sophisticated sense of humour, because the jokes go for the broadest possible targets throughout, from the inclusion of funny animals (ostriches are on the list, cueing a wailling zookeeper played by Avery Schrieber), that old standby the overabundance of foam, and that other comedy favourite, the fat person gag, and not just one but a few - fat people are on the list, too.
At least you cannot accuse this of being uneventful, as if you're growing tired of one situation there will be another one along in a minute, even if the premise will be wearyingly similar: characters find an object, then humiliate themselves to secure it. The complication is that they're not allowed to pay for these things, so they must all be "borrowed" instead, leading predictably to yet another cliché in these kinds of action-packed comedies, the frantic pursuit by the police that rounds off the storyline. Not only that but Scatman Crothers shows up in a suit of armour, Arnold Schwarzenegger knocks Tony Randall out of a window, and Meat Loaf gets his biker gang to beat up Richard Benjamin. No, it's not subtle, and yes, it is exhausting, but it is oddly compelling. Music by Billy Goldenberg.