March 6th: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby


Release Date: 2006
Director: Adam McKay
Why I picked this: It’s the spiritual successor to “Anchorman”

I wasn’t expecting too much from this film other than some laughs, but even so, it could have done better in that respect. Of course there are laughs, but not all of the jokes worked, the plot was not very well structured, and it was a little too long (though it is most likely because I viewed an unrated and uncut version). Will Ferrell plays Ricky Bobby, a former pit crew worker who becomes a famous NASCAR driver. He is slightly dimwitted, but very ambitious, living by a quote from his missing father, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Ricky Bobby is married to Carly, played by Leslie Bibb, and has two children in the undisciplined, foul-mouthed, and hilariously named “Walker” and “Texas Ranger.” He arranges for his childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr., played by John C. Reilly, to race on his team, and although the two enjoy success, Ricky selfishly never lets Cal take first place. Ricky’s fame is threatened by French Formula One racer Jean Girard; he is eccentric, gay, and overly dramatic, and usually doesn’t fail to generate laughs with his behavior, even just from his pronunciation of Ricky Bobby (“Ricky Buby”); in fact, one of my problems with the movie is that the second act did not have nearly enough of him. Ricky eventually falls and reaches his lowest point, after which he must regain is confidence and ability with the help of his long missing father Reese Bobby, played by Gary Cole. Meanwhile, Ricky’s mother Lucy Bobby, played by Jane Lynch, begins to discipline his children. There is certainly much to laugh during this movie, but like many comedies, the weakest parts of the movie involve the protagonist at his lowest point; it seems like the script is trying too hard to generate jokes during thus point of the plot, and some of the gags during this time seem overextended or out of place; one example in this movie involve Ricky’s stay at a hospital and a stabbing. Not only this, but there are various points in the middle in which Ricky “falls” and overcomes this, but as mentioned, this happens more than once. And like Jean Girard, some characters are underutilized, such as Michael Clarke Duncan as Ricky’s pit crew chief and Amy Adams as Ricky’s assistant. The character of Cal was slightly annoying; it seemed meandering and inconsistently written by the end.

It is certainly funny, and anyone who enjoys Will Ferrell comedies will enjoy this, but the second act is weak and some characters are underused.


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