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August 2006

Talladega Nights

By Wilson Morales

Talladega Nights

Distributor: Columbia Pictures
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
Composer: Alex Wurman
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch, Amy Adams, Andy Richter, Molly Shannon, Greg Germann



When Will Ferrell and Adam McKay wrote “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, they set to explore details of the “American” man and his weakness, mainly woman and competition. It was a funny film that has become a comedy classic to some. With their latest venture, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, they have taken the comedy notch to greater results. Not only do they take the NASCAR industry by the horn and commercialized it, but amidst the laugh-out-loud scenes, there’s a story with substance that folks will find hard to resist. "Talladega Nights is the BEST comedy of this summer! You will laugh your hearts out and then some".

Born in the back seat of a race car to Lucy and Reece Bobby (Lynch and Cole), Ricky Bobby has always want to race fast. From the time he used a bat to control the brakes of his mother’s car to when his father, after a 10 year absence, came to his school and said to him, “If you ain’t first, you’re last”, Ricky worked his way to be part of a NASCAR car crew until fate came along and he got his chance to show he belongs on top of the game. With his “Shake & Bake” best pal, Cal, and his gorgeous wife Carley (Bibb), at his side, Ricky’s fame grows and grows as he wins constantly, much to the chagrin of his boss Larry Dennit Jr. (Germann). With his ego on high alert status, Ricky’s status as the best driver is tested when Larry brings in gay French driver Jean Girard (Cohen) to battle Ricky for supremacy. Not only does Girard breaks Ricky’s arm in a battle of wits, but he loses to him in a race and ultimately his mind. Running around the track in his draws is enough to send Ricky to the looney bin. His wife then leaves him and their two sons, Walker and Texas Ranger to hook up with Cal. With the help of friends and family, Ricky must overcome his demons and get back in the game that brought his happiness and comfort.

Without trying to spoil it for you, let’s just say that this is truly an ensemble film that works really well together. Everything clicks from the relationship between Cal and Ricky, Ricky and his dad, Ricky and Jean Girard, and especially the dinner table scene where Ricky, Cal, and his two boys talk about Jesus as they say grace. It’s one of the many memorable moments of the films. Ferrell is just a natural when he writes his own material, and with this film, he and Mckay gave everyone a chance to shine, including Duncan, who does his singing to a Donna Summer song. Cohen as French driver Jean Girard poke fun at the gay community as it pertains to NASCAR, but he does it with a deadpan humor that either distracting or hilarious. Amy Adams, who was nominated for her role in “Junebug” doesn’t have much in the first half of the film, but by the end of the film, she would had her scene that sparks romance and laughter. There are plenty of great shots of NASCAR and its races and cameos by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elvis Costello, and Mos Def only add to the film. Adding another memorable character to his list of roles, Gary Cole continues to bring in a certain flavor to his roles that defines comic relief. He’s a not a comedian by trade, but he a great actor who knows when to make a scene funny his lines and expressions. There are plenty of product placements that add to the humor from Applebee’s to Tide to many others that you will find fitting for this film. As with many of his films, the soundtrack contains songs of the past ranging from Pat Benetar’s We Belong to Journey’s “Faithfully”. With “Talladega Nights”, you will have a good time laughing your butt off.