Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
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Other than his magnificently evil now-that-would-have-been-a-film cameo in the feeble ‘Wedding Crashers’, Will Ferrell had a poor 2005. But, praise be, you can’t keep a big clown down for long, and here, reunited with the team behind the mighty ‘Anchorman’, he delivers a dose of smart-stupid cartoon character comedy at its most glorious.

Ferrell plays the titular redneck racing driver whose Southern-fried rise, fall and redemption provides a baggy backbone for improvised laffs both elementary and inspired. To accommodate Ferrell’s fondness for taking humour off-track, the central narrative has to remain fairly A-B, but director McKay still tries to cram in lots of secondary plots (an errant father, an under-appreciated secretary, some impertinent children), much of which you have to take on trust. Prudent editing might have made a more coherent whole (wasn’t DVD invented for Will Ferrell out-takes?), but McKay likes to give his actors a free hand – no bad thing in a comedy. That decision is vindicated by superb support from an outrageously-accented Sacha Baron Cohen as gay French Formula One jazz nutjob Jean Girard, and John C Reilly as wingman Cal Naughton Jr, with whom Bobby shares a cliché-soaked Southern upbringing, inane catchphrase and, later and less willingly, wife and home.

For all his multiplex appeal, Ferrell is teetering on the brink of arthouse acceptance (see the upcoming Gondry-esque ‘Stranger Than Fiction’), but the sort of comedic wing-clipping that would involve would be questionable progress for the current king of mainstream comedy – broad but not crude, dumb but not witless, clever but still snot-spittingly funny. Stupidly brilliant, in other words.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday September 15 2006
Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Adam McKay
Screenwriter: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell
Cast: Will Ferrell
Amy Adams
Sacha Baron Cohen
John C Reilly
Gary Cole
Jane Lynch
Michael Clarke Duncan
Adam McKay
David Koechner
Greg Germann
Leslie Bibb
Molly Shannon
Bob Jenkins
Rob Riggle
Jim Wise
Rebecca Koon
Elvis Costello
Mos Def
Bill Weber
Benny Parsons
Wally Dallenbach