Movie Reviews

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 7 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby
John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton, Jr.
Sacha Baron Cohen as Jean Girard
Gary Cole as Reese Bobby
Jane Lynch as Lucy Bobby
Michael Clarke Duncan as Lucius Washington
Leslie Bibb as Carley Bobby
Amy Adams as Susan
Adam McKay as Terry Cheveaux
David Koechner as Herschell
Ian Roberts as Kyle
Jack McBrayer as Glenn
Pat Hingle as Mr. Dennit, Sr.
Greg Germann as Larry Dennit, Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. as Himself
Dick Berggren as Himself
Houston Tumlin as Walker
Grayson Russell as Texas Ranger
Ted Manson as Chip
Mike Joy as Himself
Larry McReynolds as Himself
Darrell Waltrip as Himself
Jamie McMurray as Himself
Molly Shannon as Mrs. Dennit
Andy Richter as Gregory

Summary:
If you liked "Anchorman," you're most likely going to enjoy "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." The random, off the wall humor and great supporting cast make it a funny comedy.

Story:
Ricky Bobby was born for speed. His delinquent father once told him, "If you're not first, you're last" and he's lived his life according to that philosophy. Thanks to a chance happening at a racetrack, Ricky Bobby finds himself behind the wheel of a NASCAR racecar and winning a race. He quickly catapults into the spotlight and becomes their top racer (along with a little help from his lifelong friend, Cal.) Ricky Bobby finds fame, fortune, and a red hot smokin' wife.

However, all that is threatened when gay French driver Jean Girard appears on the scene. Ricky Bobby loses his title, endorsements, and pride to the superior driver. He loses his wife, best friend, and racing nerve, too. But Ricky Bobby soon finds unlikely help in climbing back to the top thanks to his loser father, Reese. Can Ricky Bobby reclaim NASCAR from the reign of the French?

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence.

What Worked:
If you liked "Anchorman," then there's a good chance that you're going to like "Talladega Nights." Both films feature classic lines, bizarre situations, random humor, and eccentric characters. The only thing that has changed is that Will Ferrell has gone from playing a stereotypical male chauvinist to a stereotypical NASCAR redneck. The result is lot of laughs while still remaining respectful of NASCAR itself.

Will Ferrell again shows just how funny he is as Ricky Bobby. With a great mix of improvisation and completely random comments, he generates a lot of laughs. Ferrell is great at playing lovable morons and he does so here perfectly. But it's the supporting cast that really helps him out. Every single secondary character has a real moment to shine and get big laughs in the movie. My personal favorites were the boys that play Ricky Bobby's hellion sons, Walker and Texas Ranger. Their evil little comments like, "I'll attack you like a spider monkey!" really cracked me up. Also funny is Amy Adams (who you may have seen in "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Office") who plays Susan, Ricky's assistant. She goes on a surprising inspirational speech late in the movie that was pretty funny. John C. Reilly is also great as Cal Naughton, Jr., Ricky's dimwit best friend. Reilly really holds his own against Ferrell. Sacha Baron Cohen makes a perfect villain as Jean Girard, the gay French NASCAR driver. He stands for the exact opposite of everything that NASCAR does. Also fun were Gary Cole as Reese Bobby, Michael Clarke Duncan as Lucius Washington, Leslie Bibb as Carley Bobby, and Molly Shannon as Mrs. Dennit. It helps a lot that it looks like the entire cast is having fun making the movie.

I think my favorite thing about "Talladega Nights" is the complete random nature of the humor. In one scene, Cal remarks that he thinks Ricky's house is haunted. They go through a whole scene on a completely different subject, and at the very end out of nowhere comes a ghostly voice that says, "Geeetttt ouuutttt!!!!" It was just so out there and off the wall that it really cracked me up. Other examples of this are a cougar that Ricky's dad puts in a car, a commercial for Applebee's in the middle of a spectacular car wreck, and Lucius trying to pry a knife out of Ricky's leg… with another knife. It's these bizarre random touches that make "Talladega Nights" so memorable.

What Didn't Work:
While "Talladega Nights" offers a lot of laughs, there are a number of dead spots in the film. Basically any time there's a race scene or a semi-serious scene, the film loses all momentum. This is also the case for the numerous scenes shown in the trailers and TV commercials. The scene where Ricky thinks he's on fire and runs around in his underwear yelling, "Help me Jesus! Help me Tom Cruise!" is comedy gold, but once you've seen it 100 times, it loses its impact. And oddly enough, those same trailers and commercials seem to have a lot of footage that was cut from the film. It looks to me like the DVD is going to have a lot of deleted scenes.

The Bottom Line:
By now you probably know if you like Will Ferrell comedies or not. Go with your gut on this one. I thought "Anchorman" was just a tad better, but they were both still enjoyable.

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