Movie Review: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
By Anne Brodie Aug 4, 2006, 1:30 GMT
Rebel NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) faces stiff competition in the form of his new teammate, Jean Girard (Baron Cohen). Bobby partners with his buddy Cal (Reilly), to form Thunder and Lightning, the most feared duo in the game. ...more
This movie is almost hilarious!
Ferrell’s signature little boy in adult body shtick is still strong after all these films.
We shouldn’t expect him to star in the next 9/11 or 17th century British period piece. Working off a well-honed and recognizable comic persona works for him and for us, its knife sharp yet accessible, steeped in well-timed personal choreography and a face permanently set to Surprised Dumb Bunny.
Farrell plays Ricky Bobby, a NASCAR racer, whose need to drive fast emerged as an infant. He is worth millions, and boy does he let the world and baby Jesus know it.
He has a hot wife, two trash-talkin’ kids, a bitter grandpa and an adoring best friend since grade school. Cal is also a racer, and just waiting for Ricky to allow him to win – just once. John C. Reilly plays Cal in one of his only comedy outings and he is wonderful and warm.
Further proof that Ferrell knows how to pick his co-stars is his choice of Sacha Baron Cohen as his race rival, an extremely effeminate French Formula One race driver who lands at Talladega Race to knock Bobby off the throne.
When Ricky suffers imaginary burns after a track accident, his career takes a swift downturn. Kids yell ‘You’re on fire, Ricky Bobby!’ to torture him.
Due to a misunderstanding between Ricky and his smokin’ hot wife (Leslie Bibb) pea-brained Cal just shows up at the Bobby house, installing himself as husband and father. He believes he has Ricky’s blessing.
Meanwhile, Ricky’s long estranged father, the vagrant derelict Reese Bobby (Gary Cole) shows up offering redemption for Ricky. He dreams up new ways for Ricky to improve his driving, like racing with a live cougar in the car (drive with the fear!) driving blindfolded and racing away from police who’ve been tipped off that there may be drugs taped to the undercarriage.
That’s about it for plot.
Here’s the character arc – winner to loser to winner.
A million belly laughs and killer visual gags fill out the rest. These days, no one beats Ferrell in his kind of comedy. He is an original, and reminds me of Robin Williams in the early days, racing on pure adrenaline and wit. Ferrell seems to play well with others, while Williams played well at others, that’s the difference.
Each is cinematic gold.
Ferrell’s antics gave us an ongoing case of rolling laughter, choking and streaming tears. But these moments were too few. His prowess is not enough to save this film.
It is light on plot and way too heavy on racing. It’s a race film, I get it, but except for a hilarious never ending roll over (during which the TV network takes a commercial break and returns to the cars, still rolling), the races are played straight, for excitement, threatening to take us to sentimental ‘little engine that could’ country. Isn’t Cars still in the theatres? And Rudy on the video shelves?
Prepare for a totally dumb and hilarious scene in which wheelchair-bound Ricky tries to prove his legs are paralyzed. Pick between hilarity and gore. How often do we get that kind of choice?
Opens wide USA, August 4th. MPAA: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence