Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
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.
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
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.
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