TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY
***1/2 (out of 5)
August 4, 2006
Will Ferrell as RICKY BOBBY
John C. Reilly as CARL NAUGHTON
Gary Cole as REESE BOBBY
Jane Lynch as LUCY BOBBY
Leslie Bibb as CARLEY BOBBY
Michael Clarke Duncan as LUCIUS WASHINGTON
Greg Germann as LARRY DENNIT, JR.
Sacha Baron Cohen as JEAN GIRARD
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Adam McKay
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” was one of those movies you knew was going to be hilarious from the moment it was announced. Will Ferrell as a NASCAR driver? You just don’t get any funnier than that. (And rumor has it, this was exactly how the film was pitched to studios.)
Of course, the thing you have to worry about is if the film will step over that thin line between having fun with NASCAR and making fun of it. The NASCAR crowd has a great sense of humor, but they also make up a huge portion of this country’s population. And it’s not a good idea to piss them off.
Still, I had a lot of faith in Will Ferrell and his team. After all, after they made “Anchorman,” you didn’t feel like an idiot just because you lived through the 70s.
I’ve never really watched NASCAR. I’m not what you’d call a sports fan. In fact, I had never heard of the term “Talladega” before I saw this movie advertised. So I wasn’t in place to be offended by this movie.
Still, when I saw it screened in front of 400 other people – many of them NASCAR fans – any worries I had about it evaporated. The NASCAR fans sitting around me laughed their butts off, so I’m inclined to think the movie hit its mark with them.
As for me, I just wanted a comedy, and that’s what I got. The trailers for this film are hilarious, and fortunately there’s more in the movie that’s funny too. The real strength comes from the writing (and possible improv from the actors). There are some hilarious zingers and one-liners that reminded me of what I saw in “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”
Will Ferrell was perfect for the role of Ricky Bobby, a rock stupid redneck who jumps in as a substitute driver and becomes a racing sensation. However, he shares the screen with several other actors who pull out all the stops to make this film one of the funniest movies this year.
Stand-out performances come from Gary Cole as Ricky Bobby’s deadbeat dad, Jane Lynch as Ricky Bobby’s white trash mamma and Sacha Baron Cohen as the overtly gay French race-car driver and Ricky Bobby’s nemesis.
However, one of the funniest performances comes from comic genius (and Oscar nominated) John C. Reilly as Ricky Bobby’s wingman. Reilly channels his character Reed Rothchild from “Boogie Nights” and puts him in the seat of a race car. Unfortunately for Reilly, he’s been relegated to supporting roles, which he almost always plays with perfection. It’s too bad he hasn’t gotten a break for something bigger.
For some strange reason, “Talladega Nights” seems to have been more anticipated than other films this summer, including “Superman Returns” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I’ve talked to people around the country, and they are eager for this film. Fortunately, the movie delivers. It’s got a flimsy plot, sure, but there is a nice, surprisingly uplifting message. And you’re not looking for Shakespeare when you go see a Will Ferrell movie, after all.
If you don’t like Ferrell, of course, you won’t like this movie. But if you’re a fan, it’s a must see.