Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines — really. Will Ferrell's NASCAR comedy is worth getting revved up over, though non-Ferrell fans will be unimpressed no matter how many times he strips to his skivvies. But those who appreciate his sense of humor will be utterly entertained by his efforts to kick it into high gear. As a youth, Ricky Bobby tortured...read more

Reviewed by Angel Cohn
Rating:

Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines — really. Will Ferrell's NASCAR comedy is worth getting revved up over, though non-Ferrell fans will be unimpressed no matter how many times he strips to his skivvies. But those who appreciate his sense of humor will be utterly entertained by his efforts to kick it into high gear. As a youth, Ricky Bobby tortured his mother (Jane Lynch) with the constant refrain "I wanna go fast." His behavior doesn't improve after his wayward father, Reese Bobby (Gary Cole), shows up for Career Day after a 10-year absence. A semiprofessional race-car driver and amateur tattoo artist, he doles out such homespun advice as, "It’s the fastest who gets paid, and the fastest who gets laid" and "If you ain't first, you're last." Ricky takes this wisdom to heart, and as an adult, Ricky (Will Ferrell) works alongside his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly) in a NASCAR pit crew headed up by Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan). When the crew's regular driver gives up mid-race for a snack break, team owner Mr. Dennit (Pat Hingle), insists they find a replacement. Ricky steps up and his career as a successful driver is born, much to the dismay of Dennit's spoiled son, Junior (Greg Germann), who despises Ricky Bobby's low-class ways. Ricky soon has it all: endorsement deals, a knockout wife, Carley (Leslie Bibb), an enormous house, a loyal assistant (Amy Adams), and two kids — Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell). His loyal best pal has since started racing as well, and their Shake 'n Bake teamwork helps Ricky win more races until Dennit pulls the rug out from under him by hiring acclaimed French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sasha Baron Cohen). The competition throws Ricky off his game, and after a crash he's hesitant to get back behind the wheel. Director/cowriter Adam McKay, who also helmed Ferrell's 2004 ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY, doesn't showcase Ferrell to the detriment of the rest of the cast: Reilly offers a perfect balance to Ferrell's over-the-top behavior, and Cohen brings his own sense of humor to the mix, while NASCAR and non-NASCAR-related cameos round out the piece. But the old adage about not working with kids or animals comes into play here; potty-mouthed tykes Tumlin and Russell and a cougar steal every scene that they're in.

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