Thursday, August 17, 2006

Movie Review: Talladega Nights

U.S. Release Date: 8/4/06
Running Time: 1:44
Rated: PG-13 (Profanity, sexual situations)
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Leslie Bibb, Amy Adams, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sacha Baron Cohen, Greg Germann, Gary Cole

Director: Adam McKay
Producers: Judd Apatow, Jimmy Miller
Screenplay: Will Ferrell & Adam McKay
Music: Alex Wurman
Studio: Columbia Pictures


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Stuffed with sponsorships and advertising agendas, Talladega Nights pulls off one of the most ingenious conceptual marketing projects to hit the silver-screen. Too bad the same can’t be said concerning the quality.

Be that as it may, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a great title, and the standalone concept of Will Ferrell playing a NASCAR driver is golden in theory. However, Talladega Nights is not on par with Ferrell’s prior effort, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. While both films possess similar titles in structure, in The Ballad of Ricky Robby, the laughs aren’t quite as frequent. Hands down, Talladega Nights is a comedy with more bark than bite.

The film depicts the rise, fall, and rise of NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell). Between his best pal, Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly), and his trashy gold-digging wife, Carley (Leslie Bibb), Ricky thinks he has it made both in life on the NASCAR circuit. He is the father of two foul-mouthed boys named Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell) and his pit-crew is managed by a fine manager in Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan). In every aspect, Ricky Bobby feels as if he is headed down the track to superstardom.

Conversely, when a French Formula One racecar driver named Jean Girrard (Sacha Baron Cohen) tries his hand at NASCAR, Ricky’s patience and stature are tried. With the help of his returning father (Gary Cole), Ricky Bobby strives to regain #1 and – above all – drive fast.

For the Ferrell faithful, Talladega Nights will definitely account for multiple viewings; this way, fans can receive the most joy in reciting the funniest of quotes again and again. However, considering nothing is too memorable this time around, excluding the “shake and bake” fist pound, Talladega Nights is not as consistently funny as Anchorman. Like always, the fun only arises in the cheesy soundtrack, the overacting, and the inflated ego of its lead. Only this time, the one-liners aren’t as big of zingers as they were in The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Even though the overall NASCAR experience is not non-stop, drop-dead hilarity, it is most certainly precisely what Ferrell and McKay intended it to be. While all of those involved in the production are able to sheepishly laugh their way straight to the bank, Ferrell-humored audiences will feel content in receiving an ample helping of cursing children, Applebee’s commercials, and talk on Baby Jesus. On the other hand, those who have come to dislike the former S.N.L. star will only see Talladega Nights as yet another vehicle for Ferrell’s unfunny antics. (**1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006