Film Reviews

TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY

By • Aug 4th, 2006 •

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Sony Pictures Entertainment / Columbia Pictures presents in association with Relativity Media
an Apatow Co. / Mosaic Media Group production
MPAA rating PG-13 / Running time — 107 minutes

QUOTE: Product Prostitution. Disgraceful product placement everywhere with an Applebee’s commercial smack in the middle. Ferrell has product names written on his forehead. And, it’s a bore.

The NASCAR phenomenon is known for having zealot fans and product placement all over the cars and driver’s suits. The cost of the sport demands heavy sponsorship. Okay, but did this production really need to place Coca-Cola prominently in every scene? The dialogue was written solely to name products. I give up. This is product prostitution.

Will Ferrell is invincible. As long as he stays out-of-shape and runs around in his underwear, he will have a career. But Ferrell desperately wants to be a serious actor – he’ll be doing Shakespeare in the Park soon. I know he wants an on-screen love scene with a twenty-year old.

RICKY BOBBY is a TV commercial masquerading as a movie. Ricky “Applebee’s Spokesman” Bobby (Ferrell) is a selfish race-car driver with a too-loyal gay friend, Cal (John C. Reilly), who constantly expresses his love for his childhood friend. Cal has no life outside of being a loyal mascot. These two have a very unfunny motto – “Shake and Bake.” Even though Cal is a member of Ricky’s team, he is never allowed to win a race. He is only there to support blowhard Ricky.

Ricky does have a well-written family. His kids (Houston Tumlin and Grayson Russell) are terrific demons with filthy mouths. They were the funniest part of the movie. The rest of the movie is a dud. I never laughed. Ricky’s wife Carley (Leslie Bibb) and his father-in-law are perfectly cast. His mother is played by Jane Lynch, who made her character in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN so memorable.

Someone should write a movie for Jane Lynch.

When Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) turns up to challenge him, Ricky feels the Euro-pressure and cracks up on the field. The only clever moment is the “invisible” fire of Ricky’s defeat. He wakes up to find himself paralyzed. It’s a fake paralysis and Rickey’s crew chief, Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan), along with Cal, try to help him get back into any car. Refusing to get behind a wheel and settled into delivering pizzas, Cal goes off with his sensible trophy-wife Carley. It takes Ricky’s good-for-nothing, long-lost father Reese (Gary Cole) to bring homespun Southern kick-ass training he certainly never used to redeem the man and heal the family at Applebee’s.

Gary Cole takes his small part and kicks the movie into high gear, but it is Cohen who really showcases a reckless comedic appeal. Yes, I’m waiting for Cohen’s “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation Kazakhstan” and this is an ideal introduction to what he can do.

The success of RICKY BOBBY only means that overt product placement will become standard and Will Ferrell will continue to reign as America’s middle-aged fool. The biggest question I have is this: how much rehearsing was done for that long, deep kiss? Will, tell me that was supposed to be comedy, not a statement of fact.


Credits:
Director: Adam McKay
Screenwriters: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Producers: Jimmy Miller, Judd Apatow
Executive producers: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, David Householter, Ryan Kavanaugh, Richard Glover, Sarah Nettinga
Director of photography: Oliver Wood
Production designer: Clayton R. Hartley
Music: Alex Wurman
Costume designer: Susan Matheson
Editor: Brent White

Cast:
Ricky Bobby: Will Ferrell
Cal Naughton Jr.: John C. Reilly
Jean Girard: Sacha Baron Cohen
Reese Bobby: Gary Cole
Lucius Washington: Michael Clarke Duncan
Carley: Leslie Bibb
Lucy Bobby: Jane Lynch
Susan: Amy Adams
Gregory: Andy Richter
Mrs. Dennit: Molly Shannon
Larry Dennit Jr.: Greg Germann
Dennit Senior: Pat Hingle
Walker: Houston Tumlin
Texas Ranger: Grayson Russell

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