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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Review Written by: G. McAdams
Film: A-
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG-13 (for profanity)

Directed by: Adam McKay
Written by: Adam McKay and Will Ferrell
Produced by: Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Molly Shannon, Michael Clarke Duncan
Studio: Columbia Pictures

Alright, now going into this one I was a little skeptical. I mean, I am in fact a fan of the Frat Pack and the trailers for this one made it look pretty hysterical. The only thing keeping me away was the fact that it boasted "From the creators of 'Anchorman'". That is one of the only movies made from the Pack, that I actually didn't find funny. The only redeeming factor in that one was Steve Carell and from all the publicity and research, I knew he was absent from this one. All that put aside however, I decided to give this one a shot.

So opening night, me and two of my buddies go and wait in the line to get into the sold out show. May I just say now, it was worth pretty much worth it. The movie was so funny at parts that I actually had tears in my eyes. It was really worth the wait to get seats (and we got good ones at that, no sitting up front). Now movies like this one are harder to analyse because they go against the regular formatting that make other films so appealing. However, because of the slapstick and improvisation, you need to compare a movie like this to others within the genre. So let's do that then.

From the very beginning of the movie, we get a few damn good laughs from Reese Bobby (his dad), Gary Cole (who turns out to be my favourite character in the film). It's always a good sign if a movie of this nature can get you laughing at its stupidity early on. As we progress to the early years and Ricky Bobby's rise to stardom, we see Will Ferrell doing what he does best and that's improvising. There's a scene in which he is the celebrity endorser for a variety of different products. I won't spoil it, but 'Big Red' had me out of breath. Moving on, the entire dumb plot is set into motion and the story's villain is introduced as a French Formula "Un" driver Jean Girard. Cohen, of Ali G fame, makes his first on screen film appearence as a character that was not derived from his TV show. And let me say that he does not disappoint. From the minute we hear him talk, he already has the audience laughing. Another memorable scene comes when he and Ricky have their first battle of wits. Again, I won't ruin it, but it's flippin' hilarious.

There's not too much more I can really say about the plot. It's pretty basic for a movie of this nature. There are problems that arise that the characters must overcome and all of that. The writing for the movie is pretty brilliant...at least the parts that you would think to be written. There are so many improvisation lines in this film, you can't tell what's scripted and not. You would think the script was just written as notes on what takes place in the scene and then the actors just do their thing to fill in the dialogue. What comes of that though is comic gold.

One performance that stood out for me among the rest was actually John C. Reilly, mainly because he doesn't really do movies like this. Now I must say I've never been that impressed with Reilly. I mean he's always been the same guy to me. Boogie Nights, The Perfect Storm, Dark Water. All relatively the same guy. In Ricky Bobby he just goes to town with his improv skills and plays such a completely opposite character from his past that I was really taken aback. I mean, it's not Oscar-worthy by any means, but it just shows how diverse this guy can be. He deserves kudos. The absolute funniest scene in the film comes when Ricky stabs himself in the leg with a steak knife to prove he's paralysed. I know we've all seen that part in the trailers, but trust me, it's MUCH funnier as an overall scene. The funniest line, IMO, is in a scene where Ricky visits Girard at his home the day before the climactic race. He shows up there and as an added bonus, there are two REALLY random cameos that add to the hilarity of the scene. Anyway, Ricky goes on to talk about Highlander, being a great movie. "Yeah it won the Academy Award." "What Academy Award?" "For the best movie ever." That still makes me laugh when I think about it.

Basically, the movie was really funny and overall good considering the actual type that it is. I mean, it's better than The 40 Year Old Virgin and Anchorman and probably on par with the likes of Wedding Crashers, in my personal opinion. Gary Cole is the funniest part of the movie and the supporting cast all help with the way the movie comes out (Molly Shannon has her moments and Michael Clarke Duncan has a few really funny parts too surprisingly.)

Ricky Bobby standing next to his car in Talladega Nights.
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