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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.79%
Worth A Look38.02%
Average: 22.31%
Pretty Bad: 3.31%
Total Crap: 11.57%

9 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
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by Erik Childress

"Not Quite The Legend Of Anchorman, But Close Enough"
4 stars

NASCAR is one of the fastest growing sporting events in America. Possibly due to inordinate breeding rates down South. But I kid the rednecks. Everyone needs an uncomplicated sport to waste their Sunday on, so God bless. Enter Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the comic madmen behind one of this decade’s most quotable films, Anchorman. About as perfect a duo as you can find to ratchet out the absurdity of sponsorship and the good ol’ boys club that is about as exclusionary as the fine wine country clubs – only with beer and accents. Relax NASCAR fans. You take your share of hits here, but if you’re able to laugh at yourself even just a little you will find yourself accepting one of the year’s funniest pictures.

In a nicely extended prologue, we get to meet the boy from birth to pit crew assistant whose desire to go fast was both encouraged and hindered by his deadbeat father (Gary Cole). Ricky Bobby (Ferrell), once sidelined as part of the worst team on the circuit, gets to show his stuff when their driver takes a snack break in the middle of a race. He becomes an overnight sensation leading to many winner circles, endorsements, a smokin’ hot wife (Leslie Bibb) and even a second team car for his lifelong best friend, Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly).

A new challenge presents Ricky Bobby in the form of Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), who is not just a Frenchman invading this All-American of sports, but a homosexual one to boot up their country asses. Girard’s antics sideline Ricky not once, but twice, until he has a complete falling out, right down to a hilariously abrupt shunning from his home that has the same kind of is-it-real-or-fantasized mentality as the newsmen-brawl in Anchorman. It’s then up to his downhome mom (Jane Lynch) to smack the hick out of her grandchildren, Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (T.R. for short) (Grayson Russell) and the reappearance of dad to rediscover the adrenaline of hitting triple digits behind the wheel.

Talladega Nights inevitably plays more with the arc of the nearly universally maligned Days of Thunder than it does as an overt satire on motorhead culture. Like Pixar’s Cars this summer, the film doesn’t even pretend to know anything about or care about what makes the sport’s true stars tick. It would rather find the ticks behind the people and a gleeful naivete in everything they commit to. McKay and Ferrell filmed so much material for Anchorman that they were able to release a pseudo-sequel as a companion piece on DVD, comprised of the deleted footage that, while obviously a lesser film, was still funnier than most comedies. The same may even hold true for Talladega when you realize that most of the trailer footage is nowhere to be found in the final print, save for Ferrell’s tighty-whitey tirade along the track and then the knife in the leg and the “live cougar” payoff which are even funnier after their buildup and extension.

But where even the most eager of viewers may have grown tired of Ferrell shouting “help me Tom Cruise”, it’s a reprise of this moment which gets the bigger laugh and neither come close to being a top twenty highlight. Ferrell is at his dimbulb best, but still allows enough breathing room for a cast of comedic artists to get at least one major laugh for themselves. Many of them come courtesy of John C. Reilly, once the earnest help of Cole Trickle, now a full-blown comic force whose puppy dog sincerity becomes an asset as the yin to Ricky’s yang. The great Gary Cole, whom filmmakers are realizing is comic gold even as a silent walk-on, nearly steals the film as the relationship-challenged father. Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Ali G and soon to be seen as TV counterpart, Borat, in turn gets to take over the film with each of his scenes. Molly Shannon, whom I haven’t laughed with since the early days of her SNL appearances, is great as the drunken wife of management. Michael Clarke Duncan breaks loose from being the film’s straight man in a hysterically spontaneous outburst about Ricky’s “handicap.” And even Amy Adams, in maybe the one true bit of wasted casting considering how brilliantly she portrayed Southern exuberance in her Oscar-nominated (and robbed) role in last year’s Junebug, unleashes a fiery sexiness in her inspirational speech that couldn’t be more perfect.

Talladega Nights surely could have played up an ignorance of its culture, possibly somewhat fearing neglecting a core audience and the organization that supported its production, but that’s just the difference between it being a classic satire and just a damn funny movie. It flirts with the former and settles comfortably for the latter. Will it be as cherished as Anchorman in repeat viewings? Maybe not as a direct quotable piece or for appreciating the other-worldly insanity that film displayed at times, but it’s certainly going to make people laugh hard and frequently. It may never make that hard right into more riskier territory, but it maintains its pace and the Ferrell/McKay partnership will keep their audience applauding for more.

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originally posted: 08/04/06 14:21:54
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User Comments

3/18/16 Charles Tatum Plotless but quotable 4 stars
10/22/12 Sean Harrison Proof Will Ferrel can actually be funny if he chooses. 4 stars
3/09/08 jbubbles The only reason to see this movie is for Sasha Baron Cohen and he's not even in it alot. i 1 stars
1/23/08 Chase Overall it was a good movie, but it had its bad parts. Shake and Bake!! 4 stars
8/07/07 mr.mike so bad it made me long for "Stroker Ace" 2 stars
4/28/07 Dark Enchantress it was okay, not the best but okay 3 stars
4/16/07 Ricky awesome !! 5 stars
4/11/07 Dan Very funny, though the gay French driver subplot falls a little flat. Anchorman is better. 4 stars
3/27/07 Angela Movie is hilarious. Those who dispute should remove stick from anus 5 stars
2/13/07 Indrid Cold Not bad. Somewhat quirkier and funnier than a typical mainstream comedy. 4 stars
1/27/07 Tamara Leonard I found it disgusting, degrading and insulting as a Southern lady. 1 stars
1/22/07 del shake and bake=some parts good, some bad 3 stars
1/08/07 Jack & Dianne Moronic unfunny boring slapstick; unappealing characters; hit "stop" after 30 min. 1 stars
12/29/06 Phil M. Aficionado I guess I just don't have much of an appetite for Ferrell anymore. Snoozer 2 stars
12/23/06 chris that movie wasted the last two hours of my life. id rather beat off with a sos pad 1 stars
12/22/06 Kara I love this movie, it is halarious and Will Ferrell is amazing! 5 stars
12/13/06 sean u people who didnt like it or laugh are completely retarded, justt like voting for bush 5 stars
12/13/06 Gerrit ONE OF THE BEST WILL FERREL MOVIES 5 stars
11/18/06 Elza Hudson Terribly boring 1 stars
11/13/06 Caiphn Definately has some really funny moments, it's no Anchorman though. 3 stars
11/07/06 Jenna Furr MUCH MUCH better than ANCHORMAN, but still barely average. 3 stars
10/31/06 Jacko wacko Made me think of Dodgeball and was to slow and unintersting 2 stars
10/30/06 john frei 5 stars best movie ever throughout whole movie your crying cuz your laughing so hard 5 stars
10/29/06 Tony Man If you didn't like it, you're too serious about NASCAR, or you should be in Church. LOL 5 stars
10/25/06 Drew G Pretty funny, though not as good as Anchorman 4 stars
9/28/06 heelyes06 this movie was simply amazing and for all of you that don't like it.... then fuck you 5 stars
9/22/06 Anthony Feor Terrible, pure garbage 1 stars
9/17/06 Miterban Isdurty Iit seemed like a one long commercial (product placements) 3 stars
9/13/06 Ryan Michael loved anchorman\ this was a bad idea for an adult comedy 1 stars
9/04/06 bobby b pure junk-stupid 1 stars
9/03/06 Dragon The Artist Ferrell's director needs to get a new click;same basic premisis as stupid Anchorman. 1 stars
8/28/06 Dan Not as good as Anchorman. Needed a better supporting cast (Cole and the kids were great) 3 stars
8/24/06 Chad Thomas Some really hilarious bits but uneven. 3 stars
8/20/06 Mase Minless fun, though the white trash caricutures become grating after awhile 4 stars
8/19/06 Stephanie Terrell Not for kids. PG13 is under rated. For adults. 2 families left. 3 stars
8/18/06 sarah wooten very funny 5 stars
8/17/06 Pn. Special props to Cole. Drive-in double bill with CARS (if you've got the right kids). 4 stars
8/17/06 Jessie WONDERFUL... HILARIOUS... GRAND 5 stars
8/17/06 allysha awesome movie 5 stars
8/15/06 Ashley Hinz Forgettable Ferrell, not his best. 4 stars
8/14/06 EZ hilirious but the gayness ruined the perfectness of the comedy 4 stars
8/14/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty damn funny. Gary Cole is awesome as Reese Bobby, the dad. Cohen and Reilly goodtoo 4 stars
8/14/06 Zac Its a great movie. Keeps you laughing. 5 stars
8/13/06 pete and les terrible 1 stars
8/13/06 jcjs i know 'Awesome' is perhaps too generous but few moives make laugh.fine fun stuff light 5 stars
8/13/06 trashfishermen15 movie pretty lame; no need for excessive amounts of profanity. 1 stars
8/12/06 Braden Funnier than Anchorman Its definitely goin into my top 5 5 stars
8/12/06 Mitchapalooza 1 movie with a million catch frazes..i love it! 5 stars
8/11/06 michael Not as good as I had hoped but better than some others 3 stars
8/10/06 ken baldwin dumbest movie I've seen in a long time...funny to the lowest common denominator 1 stars
8/10/06 A its up there alright 5 stars
8/10/06 sheila Terrific fun and great even for non-Ferrell fans 5 stars
8/10/06 Elisa Giro Ebullient! 4 stars
8/10/06 allie This movie was great, but you have to walk in ready to laugh, there is nothing else to it. 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Ferrell's director needs to get a new click;same basic premisis as stupid Anchorman. 1 stars
8/09/06 Braelyn AMAZING!!! 5 stars
8/09/06 Maggie funny movie, not as funny as anchorman though. 4 stars
8/08/06 Jordan funniest movie everr..i would definitelyy see it again! 5 stars
8/07/06 Jennifer Funniest movie I have ever seen! Best quotes ever. Loved it. 5 stars
8/07/06 Bobby Can't top Anchorman..i'd see it again 5 stars
8/07/06 Trisha I agree the movie had the same premise as anchorman with a few different twists & laughs. 5 stars
8/07/06 Dan Hope team Ferrell gets a big pay check cuz the movie blows... 2 stars
8/07/06 Vincent Costa Very Good 4 stars
8/06/06 Unknown It was a funny movie but my favorite sceens were the ones with Jamie McMurray in them! 4 stars
8/05/06 Ole Man Bourbon It's cute, but it's crap. Too many shitty one-liners. Daddy steals the show. :D 4 stars
8/05/06 Brad Worst movie of the year. I wasnt expecting an academy award, however, it sucked out loud 1 stars
8/02/06 julie we laughed our heads off at a preview last night and are still giggling today 5 stars
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  04-Aug-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-Dec-2006



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