Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Directed by : Adam McKay
Written by: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Gary Cole, Jane Lynch, Michael Clarke Duncan, Amy Adams, and many more…
Even with “Anchorman” director Adam McKay on board, producer Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell on board, I had this in mind as a ‘fingers crossed’ comedy I didn’t anticipate way too much in advance. Would it truly play up how ridiculous NASCAR is? I don’t know why I questioned, but I did, and I was wrong – “Talladega Nights” is the funniest comedy of the year thus far – memorable, quotable, and rewatchable.
What makes the McKay/Ferrell team work yet again is not so much the story or the subject matter, it is mainly how it is told and the little things, diversions and one-liners. A strong supporting cast means surprising revelations of character, silly responses to events, and twists along the way that keep the interactions between them unpredictable. The story is the generic sports comeback, however you never know how any character is going to react to any situation – everything from using a knife to remove another knife from a leg to kissing each other. The joke hit to miss ratio is drastically favored towards ‘hit’, with very little not at least generating a smile at how smartly written a stupid comedy can be.
As for the supposed NASCAR parody, it seems to celebrate the sport and make good use of the car scenes while at the same time poking fun at the admittedly easy target that it is. NASCAR culture truly is ridiculous, everything from the over-the-top product placement and its reflection of American culture as a whole (“Wonderbread” as a top sponsor is particularly great) .
I love Will Ferrell in this time of comedy as he has both free reign to spontaneously riff on the scene, and it showcases a type of character he is best at – one with undue cockiness and willful ignorance. The supporting cast in this film is even stronger than “Anchorman” and more is done with them – such as the underrated John C. Reilly as his number two/best friend, Gary “Lumbergh” Cole as his father, his bratty children, even Molly Shannon is tolerable in short segments. A non-surprise but major contributor to this film is Sacha Baron Cohen (better known as Ali G and Borat) as the films villain, Jean Girard, a Formula 1 racer who bests Ricky Bobby and throws his life into chaos. There are no filler scenes – even expository moments have jokes.
Overall, to anyone who enjoyed “Anchorman” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, I can’t recommend “Talladega Nights” highly enough. It will probably be the first film of the year I see twice in the theater. Now if you excuse me, I have to text message a friend a line from the movie regarding Playgirl Magazine. – Goon
Recommended If You Like: Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Zoolander