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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: B
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG-13 (for profanity and sexual content)

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

I've always hated racing. I mean, really, what's the point? You watch a bunch of cars go around the track for hours at a time. Where's the fun in that? Well, apparently, somebody's been enjoying it as NASCAR has permanently worked its way into modern culture. Every day, I see ads for it in magazines, newspapers and even on vehicles! This madness must come to an end! But that'll never happen. At least we have comedies like "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" to make fun of this ridiculous fad.

For all his life, Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) wanted nothing more than to "go fast." His drunkard father (Gary Cole) was a semi-professional racecar driver and since he was the only male influence in Ricky's life...well, you know the rest. Years later, we find Ricky Bobby at the height of his career. He and his lifelong best friend Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly) have formed a partnership, which they refer to as "Shake and Bake," based on their ability to always fill the top two spots in each race (with Cal always at #2, of course). Ricky Bobby (his name is just so much fun to say) is living life like he wants to with his wife Carley (Leslie Bibb) and sons Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell) always by his side. But everything begins to fall apart when colorful French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) makes his way onto the track, ready to take the #1 spot away from our hero.

Talladega Nights is a really fun satire, but I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting non-stop laughter (ala Anchorman), but sadly it did not deliver. In fact, many of the jokes wind up falling flat. Though that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. There's a lot to like about the film. Ferrell is simply superb as the title character. As usual, he plays the role in a very over-the-top fashion, making for one of the more memorable comedic characters of recent years. The same goes for Gary Cole as the rude and surly Reese Bobby, who attempts to help Ricky after he becomes afraid of racing. Reilly is also quite good as a man forever destined to be number two (I'm shocked that there weren't any "number two" jokes). I think this film might've been funnier if they'd brought in some other members of the "Frat Pack" for quick cameos (I was really hoping for Vince Vaughn and Steve Carell). Overall, Talladega Nights succeeds, but it definitely leaves something to be desired.

Ricky Bobby standing next to his car in Talladega Nights.
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