The consensus on Will Ferrell seems to be that there is no consensus. Every conversation I had with people leading up to seeing Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby went either “Aw, man, I can’t wait to see that,” or alternatively “I don’t like Will Ferrell, he’s a dummy-head.” Okay, granted, I need to start hanging out with more eloquent friends but the point remains valid; the universe is firmly split on Will Ferrell. This dual world of Ferrell is even more apparent when you consider that some of the people who like some of the movies he’s been in single him out as the negative in them; his performance in Wedding Crashers is a prime example of that.
To clarify which camp I occupy, I’m strongly pro-Ferrell. I love him. Loved him on Saturday Night Live, loved him in any movie he’s been in including Winter Passing which only me and four other people saw. His humor gibes with mine in a big way. Throw in John C. Reilly who’s been in a wide array of film I admire including Magnolia and Chicago (which he got an Oscar nom for) and I was very optimistic on greatness here. It’s no stretch to say I was extremely predisposed to be vocal supporter from the first time I saw a trailer.
That may be the problem. Man, do I hate trailers. Brad “B-Love” Brevet (Editor-In-Chief, R.O.S) makes me watch all of them and they do nothing but ruin my movie experience. This is certainly the case here as about 15 funny moments from the trailer comprise a good 60 percent of the actual funny output of Talladega Nights. I understand the need to get people in the seats but it all feels like the Christmas tree has burned down once you realize there isn’t much more there than you’ve already seen. You laugh because the moments are still funny but it is more the laugh you give your boss at the water cooler than a true side splitting moment of surprise.
I’ve done nothing but bash it up until this point so I should point out that Talladega Nights is still funny. It’s the type of funny that every summer needs, if you spend your eight bucks and take a date you won’t come away pissed off you went. You’ll laugh, maybe not the whole time, but more than most comedies. It’s a worthy film, just nowhere near as good as it could have been.
In the final verdict it’s not as good as Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, Old School, or The 40 Year-Old Virgin. I guess that’s not really a ringing indictment because most movies aren’t as funny as those. The good news is it is funnier than any of the Austin Powers series, anything by Sandler in the past eight years, and anything involving a Wayans of any kind. So yeah, go see it. The only thing I’d tell you is it’s not going to solve the mystery of Will Ferrell for you, you’ll still feel the exact same way about him as you did when you entered the theater.