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Desperate for a laugh? "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" - CinemaDave

Aug. 8th, 2006 07:44 pm Desperate for a laugh? "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"

When Jim Carrey hosted Saturday Night Live ten years
ago, the only actor who could support him in
practically every sketch was Will Ferrell. The
sketches were outrageously funny and that episode
still stands as one of the best episodes of Saturday
Night Live since Belushi and Aykroyd departed the
show. While funny at times, Will Ferrell's new movie,
“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” made me
think of the belly laughs from this ten year episode
of “Saturday Night Live.”

Ricky Bobby is born in the back seat of his parent's
car. His white trash father (Cary Cole) is an
absentee father who teaches his son that “Be Number
One or you are nothing.” Little Ricky grows up to
look like Will Ferrell and becomes a NASCAR Race Car
Driver. Creating Shake & Bake teamwork with a
childhood friend, Cal (John C. Reilly), Ricky Bobby
becomes the greatest racer in the history of the
universe, marries a fabulous looking babe, Carley
(Leslie Bibb), raises two sons and lives the American
Dream.

Then the sports cliches' kick into the plot. Ricky
Bobby is involved in a car accident, his family
leaves him, the best friend disappoints our hero and
NASCAR finds himself unemployed. Being a family
movie, Mommy Bobby (Jane Lynch) comes to the rescue
and teaches the importance of family values. Without
giving away the secret surprise ending, Ricky Bobby
races again before little Nelle is tied on the
railroad tracks by Simon Bar Sinister. Oops Sorry, I
got bored and mixed up my comedy universes.

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” mixes
cliche plot structure and blatant commercialism.
Filmed in North Carolina near a Wonder bread factory,
“Talladega Nights” is a hodge podge of storyline that
serves the commercial interests of the producers. It
is actually a relatively inexpensive movie to produce
given the product placement, sponsorship and
endorsement.

Like his previous success with “Elf,” Will Ferrell has
hit upon a successful formula for a screen persona as
a naive bumpkin who performs outrageous actions.
Ferrell manages to keep Ricky Bobby a likable goon,
especially during his fall from NASCAR nirvana. As
Cal, John C. Reilly matches Ferrell with goofy
intensity. The Reilly and Ferrell partnership is as
seamless as Reilly's partnership with Woody Harrelson
in “A Prairie Home Companion.”

As Gary Cole plays a white trash father, Michael
Clarke Duncan portrays a surrogate father figure as
the Ricky Bobby crew chief. During a hospital
sequence, Duncan, Reilly and Ferrell participate in
the funniest scene in “Talladega Nights.” Jane
Lynch's Mommy Bobby is pure wish fulfillment. At
first Mommy Bobby comes across as a sweet, nurturing
figure; but when she has to raise her grandchildren –
Grandma is not afraid to slap some sense upside the
boy's heads.

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is not a
bad movie, neither is it worth a full matinee price.
Given the commercial endorsement and strong opening
box office gross of "Talladega Nights," movie money
may be best spent on either “Superman Returns” or "The
Ant Bully" on the big screen.

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