August 07, 2006

Amateur Movie Review: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Less a movie than a connected set of gags, Talladega Nights is still the funniest movie I've seen this year. Not quite as brilliant as Anchorman, Ballad is a touch too long, a touch too overstuffed, and a tad short on actual character development.

And none of that matters.

This is -in the best moments- a screamingly funny movie. Will Ferrell stars, produced and co-wrote, much like Anchorman. A script credit could go to the entire cast, as the best bits of this movie are largely improvised. Ferrell plays the titular Ricky Bobby, a simpleminded speedfreak who goes from pit crew to star NASCAR driver in the span of one race. His boyhood best friend Cal Naughten Jr, played by John C. Reilly, follows him. Ricky Bobby has a distinct style, either winning the race outright, or crashing while trying to win. He lives by his motto: You ain't first, you're last. Eventually he meets his match in Jean Girard, a gay French Formula One drive imported to NASCAR. .

Seriously, if the idea of a gay French NASCAR driver doesn't strike you as amusing, this isn't your movie.

Talladega Nights features an excellent cast led by the always reliable Ferrell, who has become the hardest working man in comedy. Ferrell is always in the moment, always ready to sacrifice his body, his dignity, anything to keep the laughs coming. Reilly, a consummate professional even in all this lunacy, plays the sidekick, teammate and best friend who eventually steals Ricky's "smokin hot wife" and much of his life. Sasha Baron Cohen is almost unrecognizable as Girard, playing the gay Frenchman completely deadpan despite the bizarro accent he effects. Jane Lynch and Gary Cole are priceless as Ricky's parents, and his young sons Walker and Texas Ranger steal every scene they appear in. If anything, there might be too many gifted performers here, as talents like Molly Shannon and David Koechner barely register more than cameos, as does the sparkling Amy Adams. The recent Oscar nominee is Ricky's new love interest, but doesn't get much screen time past her insanely brilliant "Ricky Bobby is not a thinker" pep talk.

Talladega Nights like Anchorman or 40-Year Old Virgin, pretty much destined to be -well, not a classic, but very well remembered and endlessly quoted by geeks and hipsters alike. It should also end up the basis for a least one Sports Guy column. I'm thinking NFL wrap-up.

Posted by Frinklin at August 7, 2006 07:30 PM | TrackBack
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