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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 comedy from Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Judd Apatow, three of the biggest names in comedy right now. Judd Apatow produced it, Adam McKay co-wrote it and directed it, and Will Ferrell co-wrote it and stars as Ricky Bobby, a NASCAR driver who just wants to go fast. It’s your typical Will Ferrell flick, he plays a loud, ignorant manchild with delusions of grandeur. The problem begins with his absentee father (played by Gary Cole) telling a young Ricky that “if you’re not first, you’re last.” That gets stuck in his head and becomes his whole philosophy about life.

Ricky’s life seems to be going great. He’s the fastest driver in NASCAR, he has a loyal best friend (played by John C. Reilly) who is willing to take second place so that Ricky can always win, and he has a sexy wife and two kids. His is rocked by the arrival of a new racer, a flamboyant Frenchman (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) who has dominated Formula One racing. Suddenly Ricky is not number one anymore and he loses his competitive edge. His wife leaves him for his best friend. His whole life starts to fall apart.

Ricky must learn how to become Ricky Bobby again. He gets some advice and help from his estranged father and his former assistant. Gradually he regains his confidence and it culminates in a climactic showdown on the racetrack. I don’t want to give the ending away, but it’s pretty satisfying. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby isn’t the best Will Ferrell movie, but it’s probably in the top ten. It’s funny and quotable, but it’s already more dated than Anchorman and Step Brothers. I could watch Anchorman once a week and not get sick of it. I have to wait a few years before I can watch Talladega Nights again. There is also a lot of product placement in this movie. They try to make it obvious to make you think that they are making fun of it, but product placement is still product placement. At some point it stops being a Will Ferrell movie and becomes an extended commercial for Applebee’s and Mountain Dew.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express is a stoner action film staring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride. David Gordon Green directs and Judd Apatow produces. It’s about a stoner who witnesses a murder and gets wrapped up in the middle of a drug war. I hate when that happens.

Seth Rogen is Dale Denton, a 25-year-old process server who dreams of being on the radio someday. He smokes weed and buys from a smalltime dealer named Saul (James Franco). Saul sells Dale some rare weed called Pineapple Express, and Dale goes back to work. He’s waiting to serve a guy named Ted Jones (Gary Cole) ,and he witnesses Ted and a cop (Rosie Perez) kill an Asian guy. Dale freaks out, tosses his roach and goes to Saul for help.

Saul buys his weed from a guy named Red (Danny McBride), and Red buys from Ted. Pineapple Express is really rare and Ted is the supplier, so he is able to trace it back to Saul and Dale.

They go on the run. They spend the night in the woods and have a little bonding time. The next day they go to visit Red and find out if he’s told Ted anything. And he did, because he was threatened by two henchmen (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson). Dale and Saul get in a clumsy stoner fight with Red, and they escape before Ted’s henchmen come back.

They go to warn Dale’s high school girlfriend (Amber Heard) and her family that they might be in danger. And even though her dad tries to kill Dale and Saul, he’s able to convince them to hide out a hotel.

Dale and Saul have a fight, and Dale says that they were never friends. Saul gets caught by Ted’s men and Dale decides he has to save him. He gets Red to help, but Red bails at the last minute and Dale confronts Ted’s gang alone. He gets captured pretty quickly and is reunited with Saul in a cell.

They chose a pretty good night to get captured, because Ted’s rivals, the Asians, stage a raid of Ted’s base. Saul and Dale manage to escape and they are killing their way out, while the Asians are killing their way in, and Ted’s guys are killing everyone. Even Red comes back to kill some people.

Dale, Saul, and Red all manage to survive. And they celebrate by getting breakfast and deciding to be best friends.

If you are a fan of quality entertainment, you might recall a show called Freaks and Geeks. Judd Apatow developed that show and Seth Rogen and James Franco starred in it. It’s good to see them working together again. Even Kevin Corrigan guest starred in an episode.

This movie has a few cool action scenes, but it never forgets that it’s a comedy. So the fights have gags in them. Saul and Dale don’t know how to fight and it shows. The car chase scene was completely absurd and it was really fun to watch,

As with a lot of Apatow movies, the dialog seems to flow. Everything seems improvised. James Franco and Seth Rogen are perfect for this movie, but Danny McBride steals the movie as Red. He has so many great lines. And he can’t die.

Pineapple Express is a solid comedy. People will still be quoting it in twenty years. It doesn’t take itself too seriously… that whole subplot with the Asians feels pretty tacked on and I’m sure that it’s intentional. All things considered, it’s a fun film and comedies should be fun.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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