Published Aug 01, 2006Will Ferrell gets to revisit some of his George W. impressions for his portrayal of Ricky Bobby, a redneck who was born to race ever since he popped out of his mother and onto the back seat of a muscle car during a high-speed race to the hospital. Ricky Bobby was also born to win his drunken, deadbeat father Reese (Gary Cole) shows up for career day and tells Ricky's class that if you're not number one, you're a loser, peeling out of the parking lot as the kids cheer. These words are forever etched into Ricky's tiny brain and help propel him into NASCAR superstardom, in the process gaining a lucrative corporate sponsorship and a hot trophy wife.
Of course not everything is paradise for Ricky, as he grows distraught over his father's neglect during all this success, and then it all comes to a grinding halt when Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), a homosexual Formula One driver from France, enters the world of stock car racing. Girard manages to break Ricky's arm in a bar brawl and then proceeds to dominate the circuit while the former champion heals, during which time Ricky begins losing his winning focus and starts to crumble, losing his wife, best friend (John C. Reilly) and mind.
Ferrell and director Adam McKay last worked together on Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which is a superior film to Talladega Nights, even though both movies have the same comedic ingredients, such as improvisation and general absurdity. As ridiculous as this sounds, Anchorman had a stronger script with more engaging characters, whereas Talladega Nights has a lot of potential subplots and characters thrown into the mix that don't evolve as much as they could, including the somewhat bland part for Cohen.
Still, there are loads of incredibly funny moments thanks to the comedic skills of all those involved, with John C. Reilly making a run at Ferrell for most laugh-inducing one liners. The string of jokes these two come up with about their visions of Jesus while saying grace over buckets of KFC and Pepsi are incredible.
Talladega Nights is easily going to be one of the best comedies to come out this year due to the actors involved, who all turn in great performances. And the balance of stupidity and cleverness is once again just perfect when it comes to Ferrell and McKay. (Sony)