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