DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: TALLADEGA NIGHTS

Tuesday 13 March 2007


Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) dir. Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen


Will Ferrell films are an oddity for me. It usually takes a second or third viewing of a Will Ferrell film to appreciate the humour. Films like “Anchorman” and “Old School” were so childish I had to unleash my inner idiot to laugh. Having trained myself with these classics I think I was primed for “Talledega Nights.” And it scored with me.

Will Ferrell plays Ricky Bobby, a prototypical god-fearing Bush-loving flag waving, win-or-you’re-nothin’ Nascar driver. Ricky Bobby (the name inspired by the inordinately high number of dual-first-name drivers on the circuit - Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin etc). He’s part of the pit crew of another driver who decides to quit driving in the middle of the race. Ricky seizes the opportunity, takes the wheel and actually wins the race. Soon Ricky is the number one driver on the circuit. His best friend is Cal Naughton Jr. (played by John C. Reilly sending up his character in “Days of Thunder”) and his teammate who helps him win by allowing Ricky to draft behind and ‘slingshot’ him past other drivers. Cal is too dumb to realize he’s always coming in second place and giving victory to his friend.

Ricky’s dominance of Nascar is challenged by a gay French driver, Jean Girard, who wears “Perrier” as his sponsor. He’s played by Sacha Baron Cohen. After a near-fatal crash and a resulting fear of driving Ricky leaves the track. Ricky’s deadbeat father returns to coach Ricky back into racing. Ricky’s comeback is successful and he beats his French rival to regain his pride.

Ok, now that we got the “plot” out of the way, and for fear of over-analyzing the film let me just highlight some of the moments which make the film ridiculous and morbidly enjoyable (if I’m cryptic, you’ll just have to see it):

- Gary Cole as Ricky’s father practically steals the film. His gift of a cougar named ‘Karen’ to help Ricky get over his fear of driving is priceless – not to mention the airbrushed photo on the hood of his car.
- Part of Ricky’s psychosis is sometimes thinking he’s a on fire. Watch for a hilarious moment when the track crew members pretend they are spinning fire hoses trying to douse the fake fire.
- The mockery of the perplexing advertising sponsors on their cars – Ricky’s sponsor is ‘Wonder Bread,’ Carl’s is ‘Old Spice.’ Sorry, that just makes me smile. I can’t help it.
- The dinner conversation on the ‘preferred’ Jesus – Ricky prefers Baby Jesus.
- Did I mention the cougar?
- Gary Cole at job shadow day is introduced as a “semi-professional race car driver” and “amateur tattoo artist”.
- Andy Richter as Jean Girard’s German lover
- Will Ferrell and Amy Adams making out at the bar
- Ricky’s kids, Walker and Texas Ranger’s, contempt for their grandfather
- Carl asking Ricky for instructions on how to turn the TV stereo on after he’s just stolen Ricky’s wife.
- The running chase at the end set to Pat Benetar’s “We Belong”

There’s many more, which you’ll have to discover for yourself. So unleash your inner idiot and shake and bake!

Unfortunately, most youtube clips have been removed, so I’ll settle for a few hilarious Sprint ads featuring Will Ferrell in character. Enjoy.

Buy it here: Talladega Nights - The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

1 comment :

Patrick said...

My favourite was the jukebox used 'for profiling purposes' and yes, of course, Walker and Texas Ranger. This movie is much smarter than it appears to be. I recently found it on sale and look forward to many late night viewings.