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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Movie Review: Ferrell drives laughs with “”Talladega Nights”””

    Will Ferrell stars in the Ballad of Ricky Bobby as, you guessed it, Ricky Bobby
    Will Ferrell stars in the Ballad of Ricky Bobby as, you guessed it, Ricky Bobby

    When movie executives pitch a film by saying “”Will Ferrell does NASCAR,”” some people might be hesitant to think it could be a big hit. Then again, you wouldn’t think “”Will Ferrell and a cowbell”” would be comedic gold, but it was one of his funniest skits on “”Saturday Night Live.””

    From the very beginning of “”Talladega Nights,”” it’s obvious Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is meant to be a driver. Born in a speeding car, his first words are “”I wanna go fast.”” Bobby works his way up from being on a pit team crew for the last place car in NASCAR to taking over the driving and leading his team to the top. He’s fast and fearless, even driving his car backward at one point to win a race. Why? Because “”if you’re not first, you’re last,”” Bobby says.

    Every champion needs an archrival though. Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), a Formula One racer from France, comes to NASCAR with the ambition of taking first place away from Bobby.

    In their big race against one another, Bobby crashes his car and freaks out, running around the track thinking he’s on fire. The fear of getting back in the car and catching on fire again causes Bobby to have a psychological breakdown, and he drops out of the NASCAR world. Only with the help of his long-lost vagrant dad (Gary Cole) can Bobby get the courage up to once again get behind the wheel and give Girard the competition he’s needed.

    If you’ve seen Ferrell and director Adam McKay’s first foray together, “”Anchorman,”” you know the kind of humor you’re in for. The writing in “”Talladega Nights”” is similar; it’s sharp, witty, pretty much everything you could ask for. It’s chock-full of hilarious one-liners that everyone will probably be quoting for at least the next month or so. They rip on pretty much everything from winning to pancakes to baby Jesus; nothing is safe.

    The best part of watching this type of film is experiencing the comedians’ tag-team back-and-forth with the one-liners. However, this time around, there is no Steve Carell or Vince Vaughn to build a rapport.

    None of the co-stars picked here can really keep up with Ferrell. Even John C. Reilly, who’s usually pretty on-point, gets dragged down by the one-dimension of his sidekick character.


    Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
    PG-13, 110 min.
    Sony Pictures


    He is there to do nothing but support Ferrell, even going so far as to offer to hold Ricky Bobby’s wife’s hair so it doesn’t get in the food while she makes out with her husband on the kitchen table.

    Ferrell brings so much over-the-top exuberance to the movie that everyone else around gets relegated to the background. Most of the characters are pretty forgettable or uninteresting, except for a couple bright spots from Walker and Texas Ranger, Ricky Bobby’s sons, who score laughs by shooting out words that are way too colorful for their young years.

    “”Talladega Nights”” might not win any new fans over to NASCAR, but it’ll sure win some more fans over to Ferrell.

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