on December 13, 2006
Talladega Nights is a very, very funny movie that spoofs Nascar without actually making fun of it and its fans. In fact, this movie can actually appeal to people who don't even care for Nascar.
Will Ferrel teamed back up with Adam McKay (the duo who produced/made the great Anchorman) to make this story that plays a lot like if Days of Thunder had been approached as a comedy instead of a dead serious (and unintentionally funny) film.
While other people are focusing on the film itself, I would like to focus on the this whole mess of the PG-13 theatrical cut being released in wide and full screen along with (what is unfortunately a common practice) a "UNRATED/UNCUT" versions that boasts "13 additional minutes of footage".
Now, for one thing, the theatrical cut was 108 minutes and actually could have used some more tightening. This is a 100 minute movie at most. I don't have a problem with people putting footage back into a DVD version of a movie if it's stuff that belongs and actually makes the movie better.
This is a case, in which it doesn't. The additional 13 minutes cause some scenes that were funny in the theatrical cut to drag on until they're at an interminable length in some cases. The added footage actually dilutes the humor in places.
But the alarming thing about this so called "UNCUT" version is that the movie actually ELIMINATES A FEW MEMORABLE SCENES THAT WERE PRESENT IN THE THEATRICAL CUT. The scene in which a young Ricky steals his mom's car while she's in a convenience store is gone, which totally destroys the whole part in which Ricky volunteers to drive his team's car by saying "I wanna to go fast".
Also, the scene in which Ricky calls Lucious at Lucios' car wash to tell him he's racing again at Talladega is gone as well. This scene showed just what Lucious and his pit crew had been up to during Ricky's hiatus from racing.
If they had left everything in the theatrical cut and just added footage, I maybe could have lived with it. But the fact that they cut footage out is a travesty and false advertising to people who loved the movie in theaters.
Most of the added footage just grinds the movie to a halt and like I mentioned before, as funny as the movie is, it was still about 8 minutes too long even in the theatrical cut.
There are very few cases in which I feel that an extended version of a movie was superior (lord of the rings trilogy, 40 year old virgin) and in most cases it's just a case of DVD producers putting out an early cut or something of a movie that was tweaked after the fact during test screenings. This is how the unrated cut of Talladega Nights comes across.
So, if you loved the movie in theaters, just stick with the PG-13 theatrical widescreen cut. If you haven't seen the movie before, I would see this cut first before testing out the unrated cut. Many will share the same opinion that I have about this.
I'm really sick of pointless "unrated" cuts coming out that just shoe horn back in footage that was taken out for a good reason to begin with.
on December 15, 2006
Before you buy this DVD you must know this is not the movie you saw in the theatre. The cover art says uncut, that is a boldface lie. One of the funniest scenes in the movie, when young Ricky drives his mother's car has been deleted. It is not in the deleted scenes, it has been removed as if it never existed.
Other scenes have been altered to add material that was rightfully let out of the theatrical release. The new material is not funny, and ruins the pace of the original. I was very disappointed that Sony would offer this mishappen DVD as the original movie. A great cry of protest should ring out to the studios letting them know that alteration of a product for DVD release is not acceptable.
on August 4, 2006
Everybody in my theater was cracking up throughout the entire movie. This is my favorite Will Ferrell movie by far. He really nails the part and doesn't abuse his comic gifts. John C. Reilly as his best bud, Gary Cole as his wacky father, and the french rival, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, are great as well. I really haven't had this much fun watching a comedy at the theater in a long time, there are just so many lines that are destined to become classic. I will be adding this one to my DVD collection for sure.
I can see why this film did not do particularly well in America's megaplexes. While it's no "Team America: World Police" in its slams on America's society and sense of itself (or the profanity), there's more than enough pointed observation and mockery of our American lives in here to turn off all the American moviegoers who loved "Anchorman" so much. Me, I thought it was hilarious.
What better guy to be a racing bad guy than a Frenchman? These days the French are almost a default enemy, a generic sort of oppositional bad guy, not nearly as bad as, you know, The Terrorists, but still someone Fox News and Rush and O'Reilly and all of us can easily get behind and hate together, as Americans. Yeah, in their first meeting and his very first scene Sacha Baron Cohen's brilliant Jean Gerard breaks Ricky's arm, but it comes down to a matter of manly pride and promise, and not out of malice; and Ricky started the fight (America, get it?). Gerard comes off as fey and ridiculous (Cohen is so damn good), but he's also portrayed as worldly, sophisticated, learned, introspective, even noble. His ultimate secret is that he's been looking for a champion for years, for someone to beat him so he can be free of racing and move on to his true life's pursuits. Does anyone else see the legendary Lancelot in this portrayal? Hell, we've even got one of the film's characters talking of King Arthur and his betrayal by Guinevere, right around the time of Ricky's fall.
And those wonderfully funny shots at Middle America, right from the start. I mean, the wonderful Bobby family mealtime is Domino's, KFC and Taco Bell and 2-liter bottles of Coke on the table. And that's what they eat every night, with a ridiculous grace involving alternate visual incarnations of Jesus and thanks for the wife's wonderful hoo-hahs, and culminates with a nice family fight. And the two boys are foul-mouthed, attitude-barking little hellions who need a slap in the face (thankfully they get it, but they're still mighty funny). The big family celebrations take place at Applebee's. Ricky and Cal bond over the phone watching inane cable television. Yeah, that's America today, buddy. it's all over this film.
The product placement, of course, is mind-blowing, absolutely numbing. But what do you expect, given the subject?
Loved Andy Richter as Gerard's husband, Gregory. He should've had more screen time, but I can see where the homosexual marriage bit didn't test too well for Amercian release. Also loved the cameos of Elvis Costello and Mos Def, really very strange and funny.
This "unrated" edition doesn't really give you that much extra. There is only one instance of R-rated language in the entire film, and there's no nudity. The only violence is Gerard's breaking of Bobby's arm, which could be considered to be relatively graphic, but at the same time it's pretty hokey. Even the special features and extras don't deliver on what most will want out of "unrated" content--it's all PG-13 clean.
The special features aren't really that great. As in the greatest of Southern-fried Burt Reynolds car films, the end titles roll over some pretty good gags. But, hey, there's a gag reel, too, but it's over in about six minutes, pitifully short given the huge amount of improvisation that obviously went into a number of scenes. The extended and deleted scenes were plentiful enough, and I could see why they were deleted; most of them weren't that funny.
Bottom line: This film is the simple, trite tale of the rapid rise and rapid fall, with the expected redemption and happily ever after resolution, set in Modern NASCAR. There's plenty comedy to keep most folks laughin'. This film is no indictment of NASCAR; if anything, it's an extended commercial. But if you're smarter than the average bear and look beyond the mere slapstick, then you'll see some relatively well-developed satire about Our America, what makes us tick, how we think, and how we view The Other.
on February 25, 2016
This was the movie that launched a lot of careers in film. Before this, Will Ferrell was seen as a funny guy who had real movie potential. And John C. Reilly was a guy mostly known for serious dramatic acting. This is what put both guys into the film comedy spotlight, and the world is ultimately a better place for it.
This is a real spoof movie. It came out right before the time when the Apatow style of grounded and believable comedy started to take over cinema. The jokes are sufficiently jokey, and a lot of the characters are real goofballs.
The movie centers around Ricky Bobby, as NASCAR's hottest driver. The basic crux of the story is about his blooming rivalry with a Formula One driver played rather brilliantly by Sasha Baron Cohen. And it's also about Ricky Bobby losing his unwrapping self confidence, and his lack of a relationship with his father.
But everything is told is an extremely goofy manner, and even the supposed dramatic parts are dumb goofy fun. So don't go into this film expecting a character study.
Performances are great all around. Most everyone cast in this film have either a comedy background, or are just plain good at it. And even though the running time is a bit long for this type of film, it does generally keep its pace up without dragging.
Though I will say that the movie does feel longer now than when I originally saw it. And some scenes do feel their length. This was a movie that does feel like there was plenty of improv, which also means that s one scenes do go on a little too long while jokes are being conjured up from the actors.
Even in spite of that, this is a fun watch, and one that I recommend. I especially recommend putting it on if you have a group to entertain, as it's a real crowd pleaser.
This is a very funny movie. At points, its crudity goes beyond my taste, but I can live through them to enjoy the rest of the jokes. Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby is certainly the point of the film, but his performance is only one of the thrill rides in this amusement park. Let's start with Gary Cole and Jane Lynch as Ricky's parents, Reese and Lucy Bobby. They set the perfect tone for the film in the opening scene racing towards (and past) the hospital when she is just about to give birth to our hero. Reese has some wonderful moments in the film, such as the career day appearance when Ricky is in grade school, or the family dinner at Applebee's that is going so well that it makes him uncomfortable. Or what about the time that he finally goes to pick up the pair of tickets that Ricky has been leaving for him at every race for years (that the ticket sellers resell and pocket the cash)?
When Ricky is down so low that he has to go live with his mom, Lucy is masterful with his ratbag kids and provides some of the great fun in the film. She is a terrific character. John C. Reilly is perfect as Ricky's best friend, Cal Naughton, Jr. and is the anchor that provides a foundation that allows Ferrell to soar as Ricky. Cal is the one that came up with their "Shake and Bake" slogan and is willing to always come in second to Ricky's first. Until he can't anymore. His finding out that being on top isn't exactly what he was looking for in life is even a bit touching.
Leslie Bibb provides the right amount of babeness and avaricious romance to the film as she claims Ricky and then Cal when Ricky can't get her what she wants anymore (and in neither case is it the man). Carley is a tough role to get just right because we have to like her, maybe even attracted to her, and yet she has to be a bit creepy.
Greg German and Molly Shannon as the team owners (the Denits) also get their roles just right. Larry Denit is a hateful, and we gather impotent, owner who got the racing team from Daddy and resents everyone on the team who is able to do things he can't do except for the money he got from his pa. Mrs. Dennit is fully aware of the ridiculous situation and takes her comfort from booze, from flirting with Denit's big ticket customers, and the vibrations of the track as the cars zoom by.
Sacha Baron Cohen as Jean Girard is most everyone's delight in the film. And while it is a whacky character that helps Ricky Bobby to get even weirder, I thought the accent was so awkward and the emphasis on his being gay so over done that I found the role to be a net negative. However, that is just me and I recognize that others think this guy is a comedy genius. And I know that taking risks means at times doing things that don't work. I am not saying the Girard role doesn't work, but I didn't find it wonderful. Weird isn't wonderful or brilliant. It is just weird.
While Will Ferrell gets a lot of attention for running around in his underwear or less, for me the perfect moments in the film were his first interview with the ESPN guy, the scene at the bar with Susan (Amy Adams), and learning to drive again with his dad. That and the knife in the leg scene at the hospital with Lucius (Michael Clark Duncan) and Cal.
A pretty funny movie that people will laugh with for a long time.