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Awesome: 24.79%
Worth A Look38.02%
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9 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A Few Funny Bits But Eventually Runs Out Of Gas"
3 stars

“Talladega Nights,” the latest comedy from Will Ferrell, is essentially “Anchorman” with its doofus hero seated behind the wheel of a car going 140 mph instead of a newsdesk. Everything is pretty much the same–the premise, the approach and even some of the jokes–except that the giddy ingenuity of that earlier film has been replaced for the most part with a lot of expensively produced scenes that are never quite as funny as those involved seem to think they are. This results in a few genuinely hilarious moments surrounded by a lot of aimless noodling in a film that, on the grand scale of Classic Comedy, falls somewhere between “Bewitched” and “Days of Thunder.”

As in “Anchorman,” Ferrell once again plays a self-absorbed dope who starts off the film at the top of his unique profession, loses everything because of the appearance of a challenger to his throne and gains it all back in the end, along with the hand of a woman who is unquestionably too smart for him, without having really learned anything in the process. This time around, he is Ricky Bobby, a man who, as a child, took the lone bit of advice imparted on him by his wayward father (Gary Cole)–“If you aren’t first–you’re last”–and ridden it to glory as the top driver on the NASCAR circuit. He has it all–a fabulous trophy wife (Leslie Bibb), a loyal best pal/teammate (John C. Reilly) and so many endorsement deals that the only place on his car to fit the Fig Newton decal is his windshield. With the arrival of hotshot French driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), Ricky finds his world turned upside-down as he quickly loses everything in the wake of a massive car crash that prevents him from being able to get back behind the wheel. Thanks to the questionable training methods of his recently-returned father (including driving with a live cougar in the car) and the love of true-blue assistant Susan (Amy Adams), Bobby is able to overcome his fears and get back into form before facing Jean in the big final race.

A lot of this sounds promising, I guess, but “Talladega Nights,” like many of its characters, winds up going around in endless circles without really getting anywhere in the process. Part of the problem with the film is that, much like the subculture that it observes, is that it is a wildly overscaled behemoth that winds up squandering its natural resources without getting much out of them. There is a huge cast of players on display here–besides those already mentioned, there are also appearances from Michael Clarke Duncan, Jane Lynch, David Koechner and Andy Richter–but few of them get much of a chance to properly show their stuff. Take the character played by Amy Adams, whom you’ll remember from her utterly endearing performance as the pregnant sister-in-law in “Junebug.” For the most of the running time, her presence is so superfluous to the proceedings that you wonder a.) why her character is there in the first place and b.) why they bothered to hire her for such a nothing role. Finally, she gets a funny scene to perform–the inspirational speech that goads Ricky back into the racing game–and she hits the goofy tone of the speech so perfectly and hilariously that you then begin to wonder why they didn’t give her more to do in the rest of the film. (At least she gets one good scene–normally funny people like Koechner and Richter are trotted out without being given anything of note to do.)

Another problem with the film is that Ferrell and co-writer/director Adam McKay (whose previous collaboration was “Anchorman”) never get around to figuring out what tone they want to approach the material with. At times, they seem to be satirizing the redneck culture that tends to be the cliched view of NASCAR fans–Ricky names his two bratty kids Walker and Texas Ranger and considers an evening at Applebee’s to be dining out “someplace special.” At other times, perhaps mindful that millions of NASCAR fans/potential ticket buyers might not be thrilled with being mocked, the two seem equally willing to pander to them as well, mostly with the walking, talking gay joke/French joke that is the Girard character, a man so bottomlessly evil that he walks into a roadhouse and plays Charlie Parker on the jukebox. Eventually, the film just gives up on trying to maintain a consistent tone and settle on a lot of elaborate car crashes that are, for the most part, not inherently funny in the least bit. (I will admit that the joke in the middle of the big final crash is worth a chuckle or two.)

At the same time, when “Talladega Nights” is funny, it is really funny. There are some big laughs to be had throughout the film that cause me to laugh out loud. The quotes attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt and Colonel Sanders. Ricky’s Big Red commercial. The look on Ricky’s face when he finally realizes that his paralysis is psychological and not physical. The training techniques of the senior Bobby (though they would have been funnier if they had been left out of the trailers). The guests at Girard’s garden party. The moment when Ricky compares his battle of wills with Girard’s to a certain Sean Connery film of some repute These are all funny bits–I’m smiling at the memory of them even as I type these very words–and they are almost enough to make me want to recommend the film. However, “Talladega Nights” just doesn’t have enough of them and, like other unsuccessful NASCAR drivers, it uses up all its energy and winds up running on fumes long before it gets to the finish line.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14906&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/04/06 00:13:35
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User Comments

3/18/16 Charles Tatum Plotless but quotable 4 stars
10/21/12 Sean Harrison Proof Will Ferrel can actually be funny if he chooses. 4 stars
3/08/08 jbubbles The only reason to see this movie is for Sasha Baron Cohen and he's not even in it alot. i 1 stars
1/22/08 Chase Overall it was a good movie, but it had its bad parts. Shake and Bake!! 4 stars
8/06/07 mr.mike so bad it made me long for "Stroker Ace" 2 stars
4/27/07 Dark Enchantress it was okay, not the best but okay 3 stars
4/15/07 Ricky awesome !! 5 stars
4/10/07 Dan Very funny, though the gay French driver subplot falls a little flat. Anchorman is better. 4 stars
3/26/07 Angela Movie is hilarious. Those who dispute should remove stick from anus 5 stars
2/12/07 Indrid Cold Not bad. Somewhat quirkier and funnier than a typical mainstream comedy. 4 stars
1/26/07 Tamara Leonard I found it disgusting, degrading and insulting as a Southern lady. 1 stars
1/21/07 del shake and bake=some parts good, some bad 3 stars
1/07/07 Jack & Dianne Moronic unfunny boring slapstick; unappealing characters; hit "stop" after 30 min. 1 stars
12/28/06 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
12/21/06 Kara I love this movie, it is halarious and Will Ferrell is amazing! 5 stars
12/12/06 sean u people who didnt like it or laugh are completely retarded, justt like voting for bush 5 stars
12/12/06 Gerrit ONE OF THE BEST WILL FERREL MOVIES 5 stars
11/17/06 Elza Hudson Terribly boring 1 stars
11/12/06 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
10/30/06 Jacko wacko Made me think of Dodgeball and was to slow and unintersting 2 stars
10/29/06 john frei 5 stars best movie ever throughout whole movie your crying cuz your laughing so hard 5 stars
10/28/06 Tony Man If you didn't like it, you're too serious about NASCAR, or you should be in Church. LOL 5 stars
10/24/06 Drew G Pretty funny, though not as good as Anchorman 4 stars
9/27/06 heelyes06 this movie was simply amazing and for all of you that don't like it.... then fuck you 5 stars
9/21/06 Anthony Feor Terrible, pure garbage 1 stars
9/16/06 Miterban Isdurty Iit seemed like a one long commercial (product placements) 3 stars
9/12/06 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
9/02/06 Dragon The Artist Ferrell's director needs to get a new click;same basic premisis as stupid Anchorman. 1 stars
8/27/06 Dan Not as good as Anchorman. Needed a better supporting cast (Cole and the kids were great) 3 stars
8/23/06 Chad Thomas Some really hilarious bits but uneven. 3 stars
8/19/06 Mase Minless fun, though the white trash caricutures become grating after awhile 4 stars
8/18/06 Stephanie Terrell Not for kids. PG13 is under rated. For adults. 2 families left. 3 stars
8/17/06 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
8/16/06 Jessie WONDERFUL... HILARIOUS... GRAND 5 stars
8/16/06 allysha awesome movie 5 stars
8/14/06 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
8/13/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty damn funny. Gary Cole is awesome as Reese Bobby, the dad. Cohen and Reilly goodtoo 4 stars
8/13/06 Zac Its a great movie. Keeps you laughing. 5 stars
8/13/06 pete and les terrible 1 stars
8/12/06 jcjs i know 'Awesome' is perhaps too generous but few moives make laugh.fine fun stuff light 5 stars
8/12/06 trashfishermen15 movie pretty lame; no need for excessive amounts of profanity. 1 stars
8/11/06 Braden Funnier than Anchorman Its definitely goin into my top 5 5 stars
8/11/06 Mitchapalooza 1 movie with a million catch frazes..i love it! 5 stars
8/10/06 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
8/09/06 sheila Terrific fun and great even for non-Ferrell fans 5 stars
8/09/06 Elisa Giro Ebullient! 4 stars
8/09/06 allie This movie was great, but you have to walk in ready to laugh, there is nothing else to it. 5 stars
8/08/06 Dragon The Artist Ferrell's director needs to get a new click;same basic premisis as stupid Anchorman. 1 stars
8/08/06 Braelyn AMAZING!!! 5 stars
8/08/06 Maggie funny movie, not as funny as anchorman though. 4 stars
8/07/06 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
8/06/06 Trisha I agree the movie had the same premise as anchorman with a few different twists & laughs. 5 stars
8/06/06 Dan Hope team Ferrell gets a big pay check cuz the movie blows... 2 stars
8/06/06 Vincent Costa Very Good 4 stars
8/05/06 Unknown It was a funny movie but my favorite sceens were the ones with Jamie McMurray in them! 4 stars
8/04/06 Ole Man Bourbon It's cute, but it's crap. Too many shitty one-liners. Daddy steals the show. :D 4 stars
8/04/06 Brad Worst movie of the year. I wasnt expecting an academy award, however, it sucked out loud 1 stars
8/01/06 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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