Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
is just the goofy, popcorn movie the summer of 2006 needs in order to end on a high note. Its also exactly the movie Will Ferrell fans want make that deserve
- it to be. Talladega Nights
but set in the world of NASCAR racing. Ferrell, whos been hit and miss recently (Kicking and Screaming
didnt win him any new fans), captures the checkered flag with his starring turn as a man who cant count past one.
A check-your-brain-at-the-door comedy, Talladega Nights
is the story of champion NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby. Ricky grew up adhering to the motto if youre not first, youre last, something taught to him by his beer-guzzling dad. In his wasted state, Reese Bobby (Cole) could have just as easily come up with any other pearls of wisdom before deserting his wife and young son, and Ricky Bobby would have taken it as gospel. Left with nothing much to remember his dad by except the advice to finish first, Ricky takes his pops words to heart and devotes his entire life to coming out on top.
After a stint in the pit crew of lackadaisical driver Terry Cheveaux (played by co-writer/director Adam McKay), Ricky Bobby quickly becomes one of the sports top drivers. With Cal Naughton Jr (John C Reilly) helping to ensure his spot at the front of the pack, Rickys got the racing world on a string. Unfortunately for Ricky Bobby, his string snaps when a gay French Formula One racer named Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) enters the scene and challenges Rickys place on the track.
Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen in Talladega Nights.© Sony Pictures
While the premise of a gay French guy taking on a red-blooded, All-American NASCAR racer in and of itself is funny, thats not all Talladega Nights
has going for it. This movies packed with bits - some not entirely connected to the story, but worthy of a chuckle nonetheless. From a dinner table discussion about praying to Baby Jesus, to Ferrell running around like a madman in just his underwear (what is it with this guy and tidy whities?), Talladega Nights
speeds through gags at a pace Ricky Bobby would be envious of.
The film really hits the gas when Cohen and Ferrell square off. Cohen so easily could have taken the French accent over the edge yet he never goes too far. When the two stand nose-to-nose (literally), its absolutely hysterical. Cohen and Ferrell shout insults at each other, drowning out what the others saying. An intricate comedic dance, the nose-to-nose scene is one of the film's high points.
That face-off between the snotty Formula One racer and the down-and-dirty NASCAR champion works on multiple levels. The use of a gay Frenchman who loves Albert Camus novels, jazz, and sipping macchiato while zooming around the race course embodies characteristics youd never associate with NASCAR and its fans. The Talladega Nights
creators arent afraid to poke fun at the lifestyle, but Will Ferrell and Adam McKay know which side their bread is buttered on and make sure the film also pays tribute to NASCAR.
Another huge plus for the Ferrell-fueled film are strong performances by every single member of the cast. John C Reillys never been better and as Ferrells dopey sidekick, he easily keeps comedic pace with the veteran funnyman. Ferrell and Reillys buddy chemistry works extremely well; its easy to believe these guys have been friends for decades.
is great escapist entertainment and one of the years best comedies. Ferrell is hitting on all cylinders and, with the support of a first-rate cast, this NASCAR-based comedy is actually a spirited take on the popular sport. Racing fans and those with no interest in watching cars circle a track should get a kick out of Talladega Nights
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was directed by Adam McKay and is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence.
***Be sure to stay for the credits***