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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Action,Comedy,Sport
USA / English
"The story of a man who could only count to #1 "
#1 NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) stays atop the heap thanks to a pact with his best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton, Jr. (Reilly). But when a French Formula One driver (Cohen), makes his way up the ladder, Ricky Bobby's talent and devotion are put to the test.
Gary Cole Reese Bobby
Jane Lynch Lucy Bobby
Jason Davis Waffle House Manager
Jake Johnson 5-year-old Ricky
Lorrie Bess Crumley Schoolteacher
Luke Bigham 10-Year-Old Ricky
Austin Crim 10-Year-Old Cal (as Austin Crimm)
Michael Clarke Duncan Lucius Washington
Will Ferrell Ricky Bobby
John C. Reilly Cal Naughton, Jr.
Adam McKay Terry Cheveaux
David Koechner Herschell
Ian Roberts Kyle
Jack McBrayer Glenn
John D. King ESPN Reporter
Director: Adam McKay
Producer: Judd Apatow,Jimmy Miller
Writer: Will Ferrell,Adam McKay
Downright hysterical for the most part, but not as good as Anchorman
After a fairly terrible year in 2005, it should come as no surprise that it took another teaming with Writer/Director Adam McKay to score Will Ferrell another hit. Sure, Wedding Crashers did so much better than anyone would have ever expected, but all he had was a cameo very late in the film. His most successful film before that was Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Bergundy. The comedy and chemistry was excellent in that film, and even with the really lame material, made the film work in so many ways. Now we have Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. While not necessarily being a better film than Anchorman, it still ranks as a very positive improvement from the rest of the films Ferrell has been doing as of late.

Ever since he was a child, Ricky Bobby (Ferrell), wanted to go fast. After one of the fastest "growing-up" sequences I have ever witnessed in a film, we zip right into the action as Ricky is part of the pit crew for a NASCAR driver. After the lazy driver leaves halfway through a race, Ricky takes his place and manages to do so well, that he replaces him. Soon after, he is winning tournaments left and right, and even gets his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly) in as his partner on the track, helping him to win the races (and in turn, win second place after Ricky during the races). Ricky is leading the high-life, but after a few issues on the track, the team he works for decides to hire a gay Formula 1 racer from France, Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), to help shake things up.

The film is much in the same formula as Anchorman, only set more in the satirical world of NASCAR. There are the obvious stereotypes thrown around about the stupid, hick Americans who are into the sport, and of course, all of the sponsorships and such that go into it. These stereotypes are obvious from the get-go, and after awhile, are not too jarringly distracting. They work well coupled in with the rest of the story, and unlike Anchorman, the film actually feels like it has heart and has some fairly dramatic moments (as best as can be used in an obnoxious comedy). Of course, that's not to say that there are not a whole whack of outrageously offensive jokes and crude humour (the majority of which are absolutely hilarious). It is instead, a great mix of all sorts of elements that work on-screen for the actors and for the film itself.

A lot of the scenes are funny in themselves, but I find most of the humour to come from the minor quips the characters throw at each other. It is obviously not totally improvised, but the outtakes during the credits show just a few of the extra lines that are spouted by the characters. It worked in Anchorman, and it works just as good here. Unfortunately, there are a few too many jokes that just fall flat (a lot of Cohen's stuff just did not do it for me), and not nearly enough laugh-out-loud moments. There are plenty of moments of hilarity anyway, but there is room for improvement here and there.

Of noteworthy achievement are the ways the scenes involving the race cars were filmed. They look absolutely awestriking during the races, and look even better during the brutal car crashes. If there was anything that could take away from the comedy in the film, it would be the amazing shots McKay and Company create in the NASCAR races.

There is a little too much seriousness in some scenes however. It was great to see the film becoming more than just a stupid comedy, but there was a bit too much of it in some scenes. It drags the film out a bit, and makes it longer than it probably should have been. In some instances, it felt intensely long, but in others, it felt brisk and fast-paced. It all depended scene-to-scene, so it definitely could have been so much worse. Another thing I disliked, much like Anchorman again, was the fact that many of the scenes in the trailer were not even in the movie. Many of the money-shot, hilarious scenes, were in both, but some of the little ones did not make the jump to the final product. Is it negative to almost assume there are going to be tons of deleted scenes on the DVD (and potentially enough to make a whole other film out of them?). We'll just have to see.

The acting out of everyone is solid, and almost everyone feels perfect in their roles. Ferrell is always great as screwball characters like Ricky Bobby, and he proves himself once again in the role. He has just enough edge and charisma to pull the character off without making him too much of a joke. Reilly nearly steals the show away from him as Cal, the even more dim-witted and bizarrely spoken best friends. Almost everything he says hits dead-on, and the chemistry between the two is just great. Cohen is alright in his role, although he feels a little too over-the-top for his own good. Supporting turns from Michael Clarke Duncan, Jane Lynch, Amy Adams, Greg Germann, Ted Manson and Leslie Bibb are all great in their roles, but Gary Cole stands out as Ricky's dead-beat and drunk/stoned father. His performance is electric, and undoubtedly causes the most laughs of anyone in the cast.

While not as good as Anchorman was, this film still is a hell of a funny movie with some great performances. It may be a little silly, and some jokes may fall a bit flat, but if you are a fan of Will Ferrell, then he is back. And in top form to boot.

8/10.

Personal
Seen it:Nej
Nr of disks/tapes:1
Storage device:Divx 5
Loan
Movie
Imdb rating: 6.5
Musician: Alex Wurman
Running time: 121 min / 122 min (unrated version)
Technical
Subtitles: Svenska
Audio tracks: Stereo [English]
Everything else:
Last modified: 2007-07-18 22:31:3