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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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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a Judd Apatow comedy about a fictional singer named Dewey Cox. John C. Reilly plays Dewey Cox, a gifted but dimwitted musician trying to create his masterpiece, a song that sums up everything he’s learned about life. It’s pretty much a direct parody of Walk the Line, but it also spoofs biopics in general.

Walk Hard begins with little Dewey Cox accidently cutting his brother in half, and his father spends the next few years reminding him that “the wrong kid died.” This childhood trauma propels Dewey’s desire to prove that he’s worth something and win his father’s approval. He’s a natural at the guitar and soon begins his rise to the top. The film follows Dewey’s life as a rockstar: meeting women, having kids, doing drugs, going to rehab, changing his sound to reflect the current decade, all that fun stuff.

The humor is not for everyone. I know people who can’t make it five minutes into the film without turning it off. Personally, I think it’s one of the funniest movies of the last ten years. There are a lot of absurd moments and intentionally horrible casting, but John C. Reilly is able to make Dewey seem like a real person. His lyrics might be stupid, but to him they’re sincere and more importantly they are consistent to his character. He’s a poet who uses terrible metaphors and believes in what he thinks he knows. And John C. Reilly actually sang all his songs.

There’s a great supporting cast and tons of cameos: Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, David Schwartzman, Frankie Muniz, Jack White, Eddie Vedder, the Temptations… the list goes on and on. I like this movie a lot. I still quote this movie more than I should. And I also bought the soundtrack. The iTunes exclusive extended edition in fact. I don’t regret it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Step Brothers (film)

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly made millions of dollars and made millions of people laugh with Talladega Nights. So it was only natural that they would reunite again, and the result is Step Brothers. Will Ferrell plays Brennan Huff, a 39-year-old man-child still living with his mom. John C. Reilly plays Dale Doback, a 40-year-old man-child still living with his dad. Their parents meet and fall in love and get married. And Brennan and Dale are now step brothers.

Director Adam McKay has a knack for comedy films. Will Ferrell is funnier when he has strong comedians backing him up. John C. Reilly is a great comedic actor, but he’s also versatile and has several more dramatic roles that showcase his acting ability. Adam Scott, Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins round out the supporting cast.

It’s a pretty stupid premise: two middle-aged guys who refused to grow up suddenly become step brothers. At first they fight and feud with each other, but then they realize that they have a lot in common and become best friends. Their childish antics are too much for Dale’s dad to take and the family breaks up and Brennan and Dale are forced to grow up. Sort of. But Apatow movies always find a way to inject heart into the film and you grow to care about the characters.

When it comes to the Apatow comedies, you either love them or hate them. If you don’t like Will Ferrell’s sense of humor, you won’t like this movie. If you think he’s funny, you will like this movie. It’s 98 minutes of Will Ferrell being Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly doing a Will Ferrell impression. They adlib a lot and the dialog gets pretty out there. You can’t help but quote this movie.  It’s better than the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Boogie Nights

Paul Thomas Anderson directs Mark Wahlberg and a great supporting cast in Boogie Nights. This tells the tale of Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) who enters the adult film industry and becomes the legendary and fictional Dirk Diggler. A great supporting cast and a great soundtrack help to carry this film from being a cult classic to a cinematic necessity

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Mark Wahlberg is a legitimate actor. This role cements his legacy. Dirk Diggler could have been portrayed by a dozen or more actors. Mark Wahlberg takes control of the flick and makes Dirk Diggler a real person. Stupid as fuck, but real. His only goal in life is to make use of what he was given. He was given a large cock. And he embraces it.

Every character in this movie views sex in different ways. Sex is the theme, but it destroys people. Heather Graham plays Roller Girl, and she is always down to fuck. She doesn’t consider herself a whore or a slut thought. She has pride and respects herself even if others don’t. Julianne Moore plays Amber Waves, an aging porn star that is protective of Mark Wahlberg and desperately wants to regain custody of her kid. She’s a bad mom, knows it, and hates herself for it. Burt Reynolds plays Jack Horner, a director with delusions of grandeur. He considers himself an actual director, involved with story and plot but he’s a porn director and not much more.

Don Cheadle and John C. Reilly join the cast as washed up porn stars. Don Cheadle wants to be a cowboy and wants to start his own electronics business. John C. Reilly is constantly trying to prove himself and acts tougher than he is. He wants to be a magician, but he’s a straight up mimbo. William H. Macy plays the assistant Little Bill. He’s married to a porn star/swinger who is constantly cheating on him. It becomes a running gag. Sex isn’t casual for everyone, and he reaches the breaking point. There are a lot of other great supporting cast members. Philip Seymour Hoffman has a bizarre man crush on Dirk Diggler. Luis Guzman plays a sleazy nightclub owner who is always trying to break into the industry.

If you’re a dude you probably feel inadequate after watching this movie. You aren’t the only one. I’m sure there are support groups available. Just remind yourself that Mark Wahlberg had to use a prosthetic.

Boogie Nights is less about the porn industry and more about the amazing time that was the 1970s and ‘80s. Porn just happened to be a hot topic at that point. All the people involved in the porn industry are trying to make themselves appear legitimate. They want to be presentable to society. They are all trying to be something else. Only Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams wants to fully embrace the lifestyle. He wants the glory and infamy that comes with the territory; sex is the only thing that sets him apart from the crowd. He wants to be the best at the only thing he is good at… it just happens to be a taboo subject.

The industry seems exciting and glamorous at first, but it gets darker and darker as the film goes on. It destroys careers and lives, and only a few people are able to escape it. Sex is awesome, but sometimes it is a curse. This movie shows both sides of the coin.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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For Love of the Game

Kevin Costner did a lot of baseball movies. Over fifty-seven by some estimates. In this one he plays an aging pitcher throwing the last game of his career. Sam Rami directs it, and it is really down to earth, especially considering some of the crazy stuff he’s done in the past. The film flashes back and forth between fictional Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel facing the New York Yankees and key moments in Chapel’s relationship with his on again/off again girlfriend, Jane.

John C. Reilly plays Gus, Billy’s reliable catcher and friend. J.K. Simmons plays the Tigers manager. Brian Cox plays the owner. Jena Malone plays Heather, Jane’s daughter. And the always sexy Kelly Preston plays Jane Aubrey, the sexy love interest.

The baseball playing is really just a trick to lure guys into watching this film. It’s really a chick flick. It’s bearable because of the baseball to an extent, but this is a love story. There is way more about love and relationships than there is cool stuff about baseball. And there’s no nude scenes, so the love story part isn’t that cool.

Vin Scully plays himself. For some reason he is announcing a game between the Yankees and the Tigers. It doesn’t matter that he’s the announcer for the LA Dodgers. Whatever. It’s dumb to get permission to use real teams from the MLB and then have the wrong announcer from the wrong side of the country calling a game for the wrong league.

I’ve seen a lot of Kevin Costner baseball movies. This one probably isn’t even in his top twenty. If you see it while channel surfing, it’s ok to watch it. Just don’t go out of your way to see this movie. You aren’t missing much.

There are worse chick flicks than this. But just remember that it is a chick flick pretending to be a baseball movie. That’s manipulative Hollywood marketing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh by the way, he pitches a perfect game and gets the girl. Life is great sometimes.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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