Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Well, the winner for best kiss at the MTV Movie awards this year is a slam dunk. Talladega Nights is basically just a series of gags that is definitely funny to start with, but gets old quickly and I just started to yawn my way through the last 45 minutes or so.
Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) was born with speed on his mind, so it's no surprise that he becomes a NASCAR driver. With fame comes money, beauty and friends. All that goes up, must come down and with one quick freak-out, all is lost; friends, family, money and fame. The only ones there for him, are his mother and loser father, who persuade him to get back on the saddle again. Yeah, it's a pretty intricate and detailed story, so watch out.
An admirable try at satire, Talladega Nights is pretty much like every other Will Ferrell movie, but without the crisp one-liners and a truly funny supporting cast. He performs his usual set of gags: running around in his underwear or stabbing himself in the leg. Worthy of a chuckle at first, then begins to wear thin quickly.
Halfway through the movie, the plot takes an abrupt turn for the worst, and tries to become a drama (very reminiscent of Anchorman). Enter Gary Cole (Brady Bunch Movie, Office Sapce). He does his best to shoulder these less comedic scenes, but again, I felt shoved into an interlude that was neither funny nor fun. Yes, there are chuckles, but nothing gut-grabbing.
Segue into the cast. I'm not sure what the producers were thinking with this particular cast. John C. Reilly is good and does his best; though I think he played this same role in Days of Thunder. Michael Clarke Duncan as the pit chief, no one particularly interesting or funny in "the crew" and Amy "I should've won the Oscar last year for Junebug" Adams in a role that does not suit her. This was my biggest complaint of the movie. Her face and extraordinary talent appear briefly twice in the first 45 minutes of the movie, when I was thinking to myself, "Why is she in this? She's not even being used to her potential!" Then finally she is introduced to us out of nowhere, like we're supposed to know who this character is, and delivers one of the best "pep-talk" speeches of all time. Then she basically disappears for the rest of the film; although not as blatantly as before. Sad.
One other cast member that was horribly used, was Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays Ali G on the hit HBO series, "The Ali G Show." Sacha has his own movie being released this summer entitled "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." And no, I did not mistype the title. His role as the "villain" in Talladega had such potential, then pettered out extrememly quickly. Which is my main complaint about pretty much every aspect of this film.
A big part of NASCAR is the sponsorship. Talladega Nights is full of sponsors. Sure, they've attempted to disguise them as a running joke, but it's also evident that you're actually watching a commercial as the Bobby's pray. Plus, there's literally a commercial during the middle of the race that they make us watch. Is it funny? Very slightly, but I think everyone in the theater knew what was going on: corporate sponsorship. Again, sad.
There really isn't much more to say. Ferrell fans will have their thirst quenched, but I think the fuel is starting to run dry. It felt like the creators were trying not to offend NASCAR fans and southerners; which is exactly what I was expecting to see. They pushed the limit, then backed off. They needed to go over the edge to get my attention and laughs.
Since it is a chuckler and I do enjoy the actors that play each particular role (especially Cole and Adams), I can't give a negative perspective of the movie. I will say that I was almost bored through much of the last hour or so though. Will Ferrell is his classic self, I love Gary Cole and John C. Reilly. Amy Adams gracing the screen at just the right time helped out a lot. I chuckled often, but laughed hard almost never. And by the end, I was chuckled out. Although it was just enough to keep my tires spinning. Otherwise, Talladega Nights comes up well short of the finishing line.