The Red Right Hand
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TALLADEGA NIGHTS
The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

Director
Adam McKay
Starring
Will Ferrell
John C. Reilly
Michael Clarke Duncan
Sacha Baron Cohen

Talladega: Talladega is a city in Talladega County, Alabama. At the 2000 census the population was 15,143. The city is the county seat of Talladega County. Talladega is approximately 50 miles east of Birmingham, Alabama. The city is home to the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, Talladega Superspeedway and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. There you go, that's the encyclopaedia definition of what a 'Talladega' is - it's a place. The only reason I included that at the start was simply because I had never heard of Talladega - as I imagine most of Europe and non-Nascar fans haven't either. For those of you that are unaware of what Nascar* is, there is another handy description at the base of the page. Acting as a satire for one of America's prime sporting targets - due to the moronic nature of the drivers, the redneck supporters and the amount of arse-kissing to the sponsors - Talladega Nights reunites McKay and Ferrell; the men responsible for Anchorman. Unfortunately, the script doesn't bash the sport, so much as gently prod it into submission (almost as if they're desperate not to upset or offend) leaving the whole feeling like an obscurely humorous sport-doc. Ricky Bobby [Ferrell] is at the top of his game, the most reckless driver on the track but also one of the most successful. Brandishing a hot trophy-wife, Carley [Leslie Bibb], two foul-mouthed kids, a loyal pit-crew headed by Lucius [Duncan] and his best friend (and team-mate), Cal Naughton Jr. [Reilly]. Ricky Bobby merchandise is available in every store and his face is plastered all over the television, touting his sponsors' wares. Everything starts to go downhill for our half-witted hero when a gay French driver, Jean Girrard -who I kept thinking was Sacha Baron Cohen (who plays the Ali G and Borat characters on British TV) all the way through the film.... which was pretty accurate because it is him- is hired to race on his team. Ricky challenges the racer and ends up in a nasty car wreck, from which he survives injury free but suffers a mass amount of trauma. Fearful of speed and thus another crash, Ricky is no longer able to drive and finds himself without a wife, home and delivering pizza.... on a child's bicycle. On one particular delivery run Ricky happens upon his father, Reese Bobby [Gary Cole], who offers to help him reclaim his need for speed.

As with most of Ferrell's comedies the audience will be split in two; those that get it and those that don't - luckily for both of them there is John C. Reilly. Where Ferrell fails, Reilly seems to swoop in and deliver some spectacular moments; as good a racer as Ricky but not the complete and utter self-servicing arsehole that Ricky has grown to be - shown through Cal's enthusiasm for the Shake'n'Bake motto of team Bobby/Naughton.

Recently I was informed (via e-mail, or the coward's hotline as I like to call it) that I only award high scores to 'arty' films, crippling "comedy gold" titles; I won't insult you by naming them, just trust me, they were bad. To those of you that have complaints similar to Johnny-no-taste or those that give no leeway to simplistic, crude comedies, I have prepared this statement: Naturally, the humour is immature, childish and (sometimes) outright stupid but it works well because that's the kind of comedy you paid for and/or enjoy, so shut up and laugh! Of course, there are faults & flaws, with most of Ferrell's comedies there are long, laugh-less runs and Talladega Nights is no exception. One of the key factors that attribute to the success of this film isn't Ferrell himself, it's the mass ensemble cast that he manages to bring to his work that not only boost his own performance but raise the level of the entire picture.

Release Date:
15th September 2006

The Scene To Look Out For:
Not really a scene, but a nice thing to go out on - over the start of the end credits the audience is treated to a selection of outtakes providing a lot of laughs, namely Michael Clarke Duncan singing.

Notable Characters:
Cal Naughton Jr. and instead of explaining myself, I'll simply list a selection of quotes:
-I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo T-Shirt because it says I want to be formal, but I'm here to party.
-I did a full spread for Playgirl Magazine. I mean spread man, I pulled my butt apart and stuff
-I like to think of Jesus as an Ice Dancer, dressed in an all-white jumpsuit, and doing an interpretive dance of my life
-Remember that time in tenth grade when we got kicked out of class for playing with Matchbox cars? Who's the retard now?
-I like to think of Jesus as a mischievous badger

Highlighted Quote:
"The room's startin' to spin.... 'cause of the gayness..."

In A Few Words:
"All product placement aside this is another classic Ferrell flick nearly on-par with Anchorman but too many laugh-less and tame moments will cripple what, at heart, is an entertaining comedy"

Total Score:
6/10


Matthew Stogdon

*(National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is the largest racing syndicate in the US. Over 1,500 sanctioned races, 100 tracks, 38 states; using over 216,000 gallons of fuel per season - not to mention mack truck transport and attendee fuel consumption. Having said that, as a Formula 1 fan, I lean towards the school of thought that NASCAR is just driving in circles 300 times and that there is little skill involved)