Sweet baby Jesus, we thank you for blessing Will Ferrell and Adam McKay with the talent to create a NASCAR comedy as hilarious as Talladega Nights. The so-called "Ballad of Ricky Bobby" is hardly flawless in fact it's not always firing on all cylinders but with comedy star Ferrell and director McKay still hot from the success of their previous comedy hit Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, most of this 108-minute spoof of oval-track racing is so knee-slappin' funny that you can't help but surrender to the stupidity.
Obviously, Ferrell's the shining star, and his portrayal of lead-footed pit-crew-member-turned-#1 NASCAR champion Ricky "I Wanna Go Fast" Bobby (how can you not love that name?) is spot-on perfect, righteously spoofing the entirety of NASCAR culture without insulting its oft-ridiculed roots in redneck bootlegging of a bygone era. You could even argue that Talladega Nights is truer to NASCAR than Tom Cruise's Days of Thunder, and it's certainly more entertaining, especially when you add John C. Reilly as Ricky's life-long pal, teammate, and eventual rival Cal Naughton, Jr. (together they're nicknamed "Shake 'n Bake"), and Sacha Baron Cohen (from Da Ali G Show and Borat) as gay French "Formula Un" driver-turned NASCAR rival Jean Girrard, to a stellar cast including Molly Shannon, Greg Germann, Amy Adams and Michael Clarke Duncan.
Sure, it's mostly a showcase for Ferrell's loud, over-the-top antics and nonsensical non sequiturs (like cameo appearances by Elvis Costello and Mos Def), but with Ferrell behind the wheel, Talladega Nights rolls into victory lane with fuel to spare, and there's one final bit of comedy (with a tip of the hat to William Faulkner) for those who sit through the credits. --Jeff Shannon
Stills from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby(click for larger image)
More NASCAR and Talladega Nights at Amazon.com
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Other Will Ferrell Films
The fastest man on four wheels, Ricky Bobby (WILL FERRELL) is one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history. A big, hairy American winning machine, Ricky has everything a dimwitted daredevil could want, a luxurious mansion, a smokin' hot wife (LESLIE BIBB) and all the fast food he can eat. But Ricky's turbo-charged lifestyle hits an unexpected speed bump when he's bested by flamboyant Euro-idiot Jean Girard (SACHA BARON COHEN, TV's "Da Ali G Show") and reduced to a fear-ridden wreck. Losing his wife and job to best bud and fellow fool, Cal Naughton, Jr. (JOHN C. REILLY), Ricky must kick some serious asphalt if he's to get his career back on the track, beat Girard and reclaim his fame and fortune. 'Cause as Ricky Bobby always says, IF YOU AIN'T FIRST, YOU'RE LAST!