Friday, September 15, 2006


TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY is another one of those wacky seventies-feel comedies from the makers of ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY. Once again, it stars the fantastically talented Will Ferrell as a decent but somewhat vain over-achiever who has a bit of a life-crisis but then crawls back up to the top a better man. This time, he plays a NASCAR racer called Ricky Bobby. He comes complete with a Southern accent, a blonde bimbo wife, two hideous children, a loser dad, a cool-ass sidekick and an evil enemy.

The weird thing about TALLADEGA NIGHTS is that while its script is always on target and you can sort of understand why the lines should be funny, somehow you don't laugh that much. Perhaps it's because all of Ferrell's comedy turns seem like weaker echoes of absolutely hysterical scenes in similar movies. It IS funny when he crashes his car and runs around in his underwear and a helmet thinking he's on fire when he's not. But not AS funny as the scene when he leads a nude conga line of one in OLD SCHOOL. Which brings us to the other weird fact which is that the few bits of TALLADEGA NIGHTS that are laugh-out loud funny are almost exclusively related to
John C Reilly's performance as the side-kick, Cal. As far as I am concerned, Reilly is a comic revelation, and any time he is not on screen (most of the middle section of the film) the film becomes boring.

So, there is some stuff that is funny but in a sporadic, weak way. And then there is the stuff that is plain boring - like the whole redemptive section half way into the movie where Ricky Bobby bonds with his errant father and mother and falls for a sweet girl. All are played by fine actors, not least
Amy Adams as the chick, but the parts and script are simply under-cooked.

Finally, we have the stuff that is actually painful to watch. Mostly this is to do with Ricky Bobby's corporate sponsors. The husband is played by Greg Germann who was brilliantly acerbic in the godawful ALLY McBEAL, but again has not been helped by a weak script. The wife is played by Molly Shannon. She hams it up as a sexually frustrated, alcoholic drunk, no doubt on the director's instruction. It's horrible to watch. But not quite as awful as Sasha Baron Cohen's portrayal of the gay, French racer who is Ricky Bobby's nemesis. The accent is disastrously unfunny, and proves that not just any idiot can roll up and do a Peter Sellars.

Overall, though, TALLADEGA NIGHTS is not actively bad. It's just not all that good either. In the move from wigged-out cameo appearances to leading man, Will Ferrell's broad comedy has lost some of its freshness and the wackiness has been blanded out for mass market consumption. Sad to say, but I laughed more at Al Gore's jokes in
AN INCOVENIENT TRUTH. A frightening thought indeed. My suggestion is that you just rent TALLADEGA on DVD and watch the gag reel that comes with end credits. In those three minutes you get more laughs that in the rest of the movie combined.

TALLADEGA NIGHTS is on release in the US, UK, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Kuwait and Hungary. It opens in Australia, Portugal, New Zealand, Iceland and Sweden in September. It opens in Argentina, Germany, Slovenia and France in October. It opens in Brazil, Israel, Slovakia, Ecuador, Colombia, Turkey and Belgium. Finally, it rolls into Egypt and the Netherlands on December 7th.


  1. I’ve seen this film in the Emirates!!! There was a cinema in the Dubai hotel we stayed in!!! My impressions about the film are indelible!!! I advice you to see it and the most important is to do it in a good company!!!

  2. At first glance, this movie review offers a lucid perspective on the movie, talledaga nights, but teh superficial nature of its insight becomes apparent when the reviewer reveals his utter lack of an ability to engage in cogent analysis and appreciate the hilarity of the cheeky monkey fun that is taledagga nights. I give this review two thumbs donw

  3. This is by far one of my favorite comedies. I've seen it numerous times and every time I'm laughing so hard and I always pick up on something new. The scene with Molly Shannon is priceless and "Sasha Baron Cohen's portrayal of the gay, French racer who is Ricky Bobby's nemesis" is hilarious. It's not supposed to be right on, otherwise they would've hired a Frenchman. I do agree with John Reilly, who plays Cal, is a "comic revelation". Shake n' Bake!