Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

A Fun Racing Comedy

Main Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Jane Lynch, Sacha Baron Cohen

Director: Adam McKay

Plot Summary: A pit crew member turns famous NASCAR driver, pulling his best friend along for the ride. But a challenge by the world’s top driver presents him with an offer he can’t refuse.

I’d like to admit right here that I am not a NASCAR fan. Don’t know the first thing about the intricacies of the sport. But I thought that watching a self-admitted humorous send-up would give me at least a small idea of what they are making fun of.

Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) is a member of the pit crew of a losing team. When the driver gives up Bobby volunteers to drive. As it turns out — he is the son of a famous driver — it’s in the genes and he is a sensation. He quickly climbs to the top, pulling along his lifelong friend Cal (Reilly) for the ride. They are known as “Shake” and “Bake”, amusingly used as their catchphrase. Does it make sense? No. But how many do?

So far, so good. The life of a driver, during the track and off, is told through a series of humorous skits. I would hate to judge the average NASCAR viewer, but of course I am not… the movie is doing it. All-American, loud, a little goofy, not smart but mostly decent… that’s what I see up on the screen.

And enter the villain: the gay French driver Jean Girard (Cohen). He is the best in the world, and he wants to take Bobby down. I don’t know if being gay or being French is suppose to be worse in this world: I wouldn’t bet either way. Is Bobby up to the challenge? Can he work through his problems?

Well, I won’t give things away, of course. I will say that, overall, this was funny and engaging. Ferrell works here: I think his sort of big dumb comedy is perfect for the role of a corporate driver. And again, while I’m sure I missed a number of things that a fan would pick out, I got the gist of the movie. And it was pretty good indeed.

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