Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (DVD, 2006, Unrated Edition; Widescreen) Reviews
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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (DVD, 2006, Unrated Edition; Widescreen)

107 ratings (23 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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Will Ferrell is Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights

Mar 24, 2008 (Updated Mar 25, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The overall gag works, and many of the individual scenes are very funny.

Cons:It's more a collection of sketches than a single, coherent comedy movie.

The Bottom Line: One of Will Ferrell's better movies, and well worth a rental.


Since departing Saturday Live in 2002 after a seven year run that saw him become SNL's highest paid performer ever, Will Ferrell has not gone begging for work. In fact, after seeing his recent mediocre effort in Semi-Pro, one could certainly argue that Ferrell needs to be more selective about his projects. His turn as stock car driver Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, however, is one of his better efforts. Like his other “sports” movies, Blades of Glory and Semi-Pro, Talladega Nights relies on one long gag as the framework of the movie into which individual comedy sketches are placed. Unlike those movies, the gag in Talladega Nights – stock car racing and all of its stereotypes – works pretty well.

Ricky Bobby embodies everything you'd expect in a caricature of a stock car driver, from his two first names to his numerous sponsorships (Wonder Bread and PowerAde) to his lifelong ambition (“I just want to go fast!”) to his motto (“If you're not first, you're last!”). Ferrell is perfect in the role, which isn't surprising, since he wrote the movie along with the director, Adam McKay. Ferrell and McKay have a long working relationship going back to SNL, and it shows. The script and McKay's directing make good use of Ferrell's comedy strengths – a combination of na´vete, enthusiasm and bluster. Although arguably Ferrell and McKay's greatest collaboration can be found at www.funnyordie.com – the short "The Landlord" - with Ferrell as the tenant being abused by his landlord, played by McKay's two year old daughter, swearing and swilling beer. Some call it child abuse; I call it damn funny.

Back to Talladega Nights, the movie also benefits from a strong supporting cast. First, Ricky Bobby's childhood friend and team member Cal Naughton, Jr. is played by John C. Reilly, who stretches his acting ability from his usual drama into a great comedy sidekick. Reilly does a great job as Naughton's wide-eyed willingness to play second fiddle transforms into disbelief that Ricky Bobby doesn't want to remain friends after Cal replaces Ricky as #1. Adding aburdity to the movie is the Formula One driver Jean Girard, played by Sasha Baron Cohen of Borat fame, who invades Ricky Bobby's Nascar world. Cohen's Girard is the mirror opposite of Ferrell's stereotyped Ricky Bobby. While Ricky Bobby is a fast food-eating, arrogant, good old boy, Jean Girard is a Perrier-drinking, existentialist, and, of course, gay. Cohen portrays Girard much as he would one of his characters in Borat, and steals many of the scenes he is in. Other highlights include Gary Cole as Ricky's no-good father Reese, and the two young actors playing Ricky Bobby's foul-mouthed sons, “Walker” and “Texas Ranger.” The dinner table scene in which Ricky Bobby says grace to the “Eight pound, five ounce, baby Jesus” followed by his two sons threatening to come after their grandfather “like a spider monkey!” is without a doubt, the best scene in the movie. (If you pay attention, you'll also see Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock as one of the pit crew members.)

All in all, Talladega Nights is definitely worth a rental if you haven't seen it yet, and it's one of those movies that you'll watch at least a scene or two if you come across it while channel surfing. I've given it three stars here, but that's because Epinions won't let me give it three and a half, and I just can't quite give it four.


Recommend this product? Yes

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