TALLADEGA NIGHTS THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY
When Ricky Bobby (Will Farrell), a poor country boy for a second rate NASCAR racing team is granted a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to drive the team car, his fearless antics take the last place car to a third place finish, and his life is changed forever. But when Ricky becomes the Diva of the NASCAR circuit, he is ostracized from the sport and forced into early retirement, even losing the friendship of his buddy and team mate Cal (John C. Reilly), for reasons that include sleeping with Ricky's wife Carley (Leslie Bibb). Down and out he must rely on his estranged father (Gary Cole) and his surprisingly sexy new g.f. Susan (Amy Adams) to get him on track.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Not being a Will Farrell fan, this is a relative rave review of a film that at first glance promises so little, but ultimately delivers chuckles and gurgles and even some out and out laughs. And that's just from me; many at my preview screening laughed a lot more, notably some 20 or 30-something ladies, so go figure. But it was a Friday night, which is perhaps the best time to see this film, shrugging off the working week, preparing for a good weekend of carefree entertainment (you wish). Yes, despite its shallow, superficial and sometimes plain silly antics, it does put you in a good mood.
One of the highlights is the performance of Sacha Baron Cohen (another actor who usually leaves me unchuckled), playing French driving supremo Jean Girard. He's gay, and drags his bulky husband around the circuit (figuratively speaking). I can't resist mentioning that Ricky and Jean do actually have a major kissing scene. (Now you're sure to go...) Scripted and improves material join almost seamlessly, there are physical gags as well as satire, fooling about with knives, and sex comedy. And considering that from an early age Ricky's mantra was 'I want to go fast', there is lots of speeding in, on and around racing cars as they hurtle around the Talladega (hard g) track.
The thing that gets my funny bone is the often zany ideas that are allowed to burst through the silly stuff. Some of it is actually subversive, such as the subplot around Ricky's long lost dad, Reese, whose refusal to fit into stereotype (or society) is wonderfully worked up by Gary Cole.
Will Farrell, a unique comic actor in the vein of Steve Martin/Jerry Lewis (or at least some aspects of them) uses flashes of surrealism and surprise to great effect. It's not consistent, but welcome when it works. Like the running gag of the meal time prayer, where the argument is whether to pray to baby Jesus or a grown up Jesus. It has a genuine comic feel, and it can't even be deemed offensive - which some may well see as a criticism of it.
Email this article
TALLADEGA NIGHTS THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (M)
CAST: Will Ferrell, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Clark Duncan
PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Jimmy Miller
DIRECTOR: Adam McKay
SCRIPT: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Wood
EDITOR: Brent White
MUSIC: Alex Wurman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clayton Hartley
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 21, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: January 17, 2007