Buy This Film
2006
Rated: PG-13 for violence, adult language, sexual themes, and adult language.
Genre: Comedy Sports Action Adventure Romance
Directed By: Adam McKay
Running Time: 1:50
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 8/25/06
DVD Features:
Not Announced

TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY

 

“Talladega Nights” is an occasionally up and down comedy from the same team behind “Anchorman”. But when it gets up, it really manages to be a rather entertaining comedy that pinpoints the idiocy of the sport of racing. The spoof of NASCAR was a long time coming; I mean a “sport” involving cars driving in circles needs to be spoofed, and director McKay manages to pinpoint much of the idiotic foibles involved within this world, and Ferrell as Ricky Bobby becomes a memorable comedy character. Bobby is a boy who dreams of becoming a racer, and when he finally gets the chance, he becomes one of the most popular racers in the industry. That is until he has a break down after a crash and now must rebuild what was taken away from him. Ferrell who has been in a major slump starring in some of the worst films in years, manages to really catch what made him so appealing in the beginning of his career, and as Ricky Bobby, he’s one you can root for. Sasha Baron Cohen is utterly hilarious as Jean Girard a gay French driver challenging Bobby, and Gary Cole is put to good use as Ricky’s father who helps him re-gain his racing abilities.

Ferrell’s foray into adult comedy once again is sadly a weak and mediocre one, and for every one hilarious joke that “Talladega Nights” hits with audiences, there are about four or five that really fail to be as funny as it could be. McKay’s film is too aware of itself, and instead of playing it deadpan while delivering the gags and jokes, it desperately tries to gauge laughs from the audience including every such nuance and quirk it can just to assure itself that we'll laugh. The script by Ferrell and McKay is too aware of its own gags thus the jokes go on way too long. There are times that one joke is stretched into five minutes, and they turn what could have been a memorable gag into one you’re anxious to see finish.

There’s the announcement his friend is marrying his wife which lasts for seven minutes with Reilly inviting Bobby to the wedding which he declines and so on, there's his wheelchair phase which is wacky but then falls flat, the prayer scene at the dinner table which is too long to even sit through where Ferrell insistently pounds through our head "Ricky is so dumb! But he doesn't know it!", and particularly there's the invisible fire sequence which is funny the first time and really pushes it the second time around. The writers just never know when to quit, thus “Talladega Nights” is often tough to sit through. There’s really nothing but hit or miss jokes, most of which never make too much sense, and by the second half, you can feel the film running out of steam and reaching for laughs.

And when the film attempts to focus on characters and situations, it’s brought down by very weak and utterly cheesy dialogue that will leave audiences restless and waiting for the actual jokes to continue. Since the plot is weak on its own legs, the focus on the characters will feel like filler in-between one-liners and visual puns. And then there’s the grossly underused talents of Amy Adams who is relegated to a mere supporting character who, even after playing a considerable importance in the climax, is still not as interesting as she should be. “Talladega Nights” is often a one-note joke that goes on way too long, and many will find themselves losing patience as I was.

Ferrell, you gave it your best shot, and it may be too little too late. "Talladega Nights" occasionally has some very funny gags, but they're very few and far between in a film that is so self-aware, and mediocre, and bland, that it's never as entertaining as it can be.

 

 

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