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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 Matt Seaver

"More fun than wrestling a cougar. And seriously, that's saying something."
4 stars

This, paired with “Anchorman,” can be held up as the reason DVDs were invented. Sure, the initial release of the film was pretty decent, but I can only imagine that the quality will jump a little more when Will Ferrell, Judd Apatow and Co. release a DVD with every take of every joke. Someday, there ought to be a format that just gives a string of one-liners that the viewer can piece together. That’s basically what Ferrell did.

It’s a funny movie, to be sure, but humor is such a subjective thing that I can imagine the sections that didn’t work for me in execution probably had something much funnier (in my opinion) left on the cutting room floor.

The premise is fertile enough for comedy. Ferrell plays Ricky Bobby, a man who has wanted to “go fast” for his entire life. He finally gets his opportunity when working on the pit crew for a dead last NASCAR racing team; the normal driver basically gave up, and Ricky jumped in the car and finished the race, placing surprisingly high. From there on out, he’s a NASCAR sensation, even getting a driving gig for his best friend, Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly). Together as “Shake n’ Bake,” they are the best driving duo in the business. All that changes when Ricky comes up against Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), a top French Formula 1 racer who has come to challenge Ricky. After a fairly horrific crash that leaves Ricky completely unscathed physically (despite what he might think), Ricky has to rebuild the life that got stolen from him – Cal’s with his wife, his sponsors dumped him, and his issues with his never-there father (Gary Cole) begin to emerge when his father does. To reclaim his title as king of NASCAR, he has to get back in the driver’s seat, beat Cal and Girard, and prove to his father he really is a driver.

Yep. All kinds of silliness, and all kinds of potential fun, too. In my mind, when you start with a premise like this, it’s better to keep it completely over-the-top for the entire runtime. Keep people consistently giggling, and they won’t notice the giant lack of a reasonable plot or cheaper-than-cardboard characters. And Talladega Nights does pretty well with that, though not quite as spot-on as its predecessor Anchorman did. The biggest downfall is that there are moments when everyone, even Ferrell, felt subdued, something that’s entirely against the grain for this group of talent. I have to wonder if they were nervous about the obvious stereotypes they were playing off of – popular to mock, but when you’re making a movie with so many NASCAR sponsors and promoters signing off on it, that’s not a crowd you want to alienate by being overly abrasive.

And so it falls that Ricky Bobby’s personality is somewhat weak, though I’ve half a mind to attribute that to Ferrell not quite realizing that he couldn’t just be Ron Burgundy again. Because he is more or less the embodiment of these stereotypes, filmmakers don’t want to take any shots that might hit home too personally for fans. Luckily, as is the norm in his films, Ferrell surrounds himself with great people who can pull focus away from how mediocre his particular delivery is. Standouts this time around are John C. Reilly and Gary Cole. Reilly has proven at this point that he can do just about everything, so add another notch on the belt for him. His Cal is really the guy that I was rooting for through most of the film, because he was as good a racer as Ricky Bobby, and also not a raging asshole – endlessly loyal to his buddy, and just ridiculously likable and funny. Watching some of his cut takes during the credits is worth staying a little longer. Cole gets a part that shows he’s finally cashing in the chips he earned from Office Space and his priceless pairing with Jason Bateman in Dodgeball. He goes a little nuts in this one, gets some of the best lines and scenarios in the film, and looks like he having a blast.

Beyond those two, there’s still a sea of good people clearly just looking to have a good time. Michael Clarke Duncan returns to comedy, Leslie Bibb does an oddly funny turn as Ricky’s wife Carley, Andy Richter turns up mostly in sight only as Gerard’s gay lover Gregory, and Amy Adams is much better than a Will Ferrell movie deserves as Ricky’s assistant Susan. There’s also the typical line of cameos, though the ones playing themselves are clearly superior. (Ricky - “Is that Mos Def and Elvis Costello?” Gerard - “No.”) It’s an indication that the sets of these films must be a blast, and that makes them fun for the audience to watch as well. Judging from the end of film outtakes, the eventual DVD should have an awfully fun B-roll.

It’s a remarkably fun waste of time, despite cutting my favorite line from the trailer (“I can’t control my heart rate, there’s a cougar on me!”). Ferrell’s star power continues to mystify me, since he himself is not really that funny. But so long as he keeps packing his films with some of the funniest people around, I’ve got no real beef.

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originally posted: 08/04/06 22:27:27
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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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