Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell, The Producers) has always wanted to go fast. When he finally gets the chance, he speeds his way from being a lowly crew guy to the number one driver on the circuit. But a race against the deadly French import Jean Girrard (Sacha Baron Cohen, Ali G in Da House) sends Ricky crashing straight to rock bottom, where he has to figure out how to get back behind the wheel.
It’s official—Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby affirms Ferrell as the successor to Adam Sandler as the king of goofy comedies. Unfortunately, unlike Sandler’s earlier successes, Talladega Nights isn’t nearly as punchy. While it starts off well, moving along as quickly as Ricky’s attention span, the pace slows a little in the middle. This would’ve actually been fine, except that the jokes get a little stale here too.
Nevertheless, the rest of the film had us in stitches. Ferrell relishes in the cocky dumbass role that he perfected in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. But while there’s no denying that he’s a funny guy, he can’t carry an entire movie himself, so thankfully the rest of the cast is more than up to task.
Cohen turns every ridiculous stereotype about the French into comedic gold, practically stealing any scene he’s in. Like his other popular on-screen personas Ali G and Borat, Jean Girrard is bound to become a favorite. One of the other bright spots of the cast is Ricky’s youngest son T.R., played by newcomer Grayson Russell (the reveal of what his initial’s stand for is one of the funniest bits of the movie). Whether it’s watching him sprout out tough talk or sage psychological evaluations, the kid’s comedic timing is impeccable. And, like any good goofy comedy, Talladega Nights also provides enough quotable one-liners that are bound to be repeated ad nauseam, like Ricky and his best friend Cal’s (John C. Reilly, Dark Water) catchphrase “Shake and Bake!”
Talladega Nights is good fun, in the vein of other classics from the genre like Happy Gilmore, if nothing else. This one works best with a big group of friends when you want lots of guffaws.