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"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"

Directed by Adam McKay.
Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
Starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sasha Baron Cohen and Gary Cole.
Release Year:  2006

Review Date:  8/7/06


The title for Will Ferrell's new comedy, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby", is badass.  So is the casting--great actors like Gary Cole, Sasha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G), former Oscar nominees John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan and Amy Adams (from last year's "Junebug") all are great in support of the main story that follows Ferrell as he plays Ricky Bobby, a former pit crew member who tries to become NASCAR's #1 driver while trying to maintain fame and fortune in his home state of North Carolina.

While I found myself laughing hard on occasion, there are no gutbusters, certainly none like there were in the last Ferrell/Adam McKay collaboration, "Anchorman."  And then I got caught up in what WASN'T good about "Talladega Nights"--the NASCAR sequences are surprisingly bad, the character of Ricky's wife, played by Leslie Bibb, didn't do anything for me, the soundtrack was not up my alley (naturally), the scenes featuring the race team management (including Molly Shannon as the owner's boozy wife) all suck, and while Cohen can be funny on occasion, his take on the French rival Jean Girard was only mildly amusing.  Even the outtakes really suck in this movie; stranger still was the lack of NASCAR cameos in this movie--besides Little E, why don't we get more of the real drivers?  We got a shitload of product placement, but in the most marketing-savvy sport in the world (bar none), why don't we get more of the drivers???

What are you left with?  A movie that will entertain you while you sit there, even provide for some above-average laughs, and will re-establish your faith in Ferrell as a run producer.  (Sorry, it's baseball season.)  But, you won't need to see it twice; there are a couple of good quotables, but not nearly the volume you got from "Anchorman"; is there a week that goes by when I don't say "Stay classy, San Diego" or "Scotch, scotch, scotch, down down down, down in my belly"???  The run-on jokes here don't work as well--Ricky Bobby running around thinking he's on fire dies compared to the anchorman alley brawl from that neo-cult classic of just two years ago.  Ferrell is funny is this film, but he's upstaged constantly by either the two Bobby kids (their profanity-laden comebacks might be the MVP of the film) or Reilly, who soaked this part up and hams it up at every turn.  Even Gary Cole, who always seems to knock it out of the park in comedies, is great in very limited scene supply.

I saw this with Ross and his friend Dan; although I think those two liked it a lot more than I did, all of us agreed that "Talladega Nights" probably wouldn't be as good the second time through; with "Anchorman", age is only going to treat it better (honestly, don't you laugh harder every time you think about the jazz flute sequence?).  As pure comedy goes, "Little Miss Sunshine" blows "Talladega Nights" off the page, but in terms of lowbrow silly slapstick, "Talladega Nights" fills a void that some people will be missing for a while if they don't run out and catch this film.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09