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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (PG-13)

Release Date: August 4th, 2006 by Columbia Pictures.
The Cast: Will Ferrell, Amy Adams, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Leslie Bibb, Michael Clarke Duncan, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Molly Shannon, Pat Hingle, Jane Lynch, Greg Germann.
Directed by Adam McKay.

BASIC PREMISE: Ricky Bobby (Ferrell), a NASCAR champion, tries to get back his winning streak after Jean Girard (Cohen) takes it from him when he joins the races.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: As a comic satire of NASCAR, Talladega Night only succeeds to be sporadically funny thanks to Will Ferrell’s impeccable comic timing as Ricky Bobby. Life couldn’t be better for Ricky, at first. He has a beautiful wife (Bibb), two children, fame and money—thanks to sponsors. Soon enough, Jean Girard (Cohen) arrives to compete with him which quickly causes Ricky’s life to spiral downward in more ways than he could imagine. At that point, he moves in with his mother (Lynch). His friends, Cal (Reilly) and Lucius (Duncan), support him both on and off the racetrack. In a dramatic subplot, Ricky’s long-lost, drunken father (Cole) shows up out of the blue and, predictably, sobers up and trains him to rise back to the top. In yet another subplot, Susan (Adams), an old flame, shows up to support him in more ways than one. Too much of the humor feels forced, redundant and demented—since when is stabbing yourself in the thigh supposed to be even remotely funny? How many times can you laugh at Jean’s French accent while he tries to make sexual advances toward Ricky? There’s only so much dumb, silly humor that one could take. At least in Old School and Anchorman, Ferrell had enough original material and a good director to provide laugh-out-loud moments. In one derivative scene that reminds you of his classic “streaking” scene in Old School, he runs around the racetrack in underwear thinking he’s on fire. Co-writer/director Adam McKay does a poor job of blending drama, romance and satirical comedy. He should have stuck with just satirical comedy. Not surprisingly, the outtakes are funnier than the movie itself. Be sure to stay through the end credits for an additional, amusing scene.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally demented, forced, redundant and derivative humor.


IN A NUTSHELL: Sporadically funny thanks to Will Ferrell, but not nearly as biting and hilarious as it could have been with a wittier, less redundant screenplay.


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