Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Fans of Will Ferrell can rejoice - Talledega Nights:  The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is exactly what they want to see.  With each additional film, Ferrell (Curious George, The Producers) is slowly honing his post-Sandler, goofy man-child act.  Ferrell wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborator Adam McKay (Anchorman:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy), also directed.  This ensures that the comedy is consistent with prior Ferrell efforts, which means the same type of characters and jokes.  There isn't really anything new or different in Talledega Nights; it's just more of the same.  Ferrell's humor is a bit inconsistent; sometimes it's funny and oftentimes it's not, but his enthusiasm and willingness to go all out (and usually clothing-free) to get a laugh from the viewer is what redeems the movie.

Ferrell is the titular character, a NASCAR sensation that came out of nowhere.  All his life, Ricky Bobby wanted to "go fast."  He got his chance when a losing driver for the Dennit team leaves his car, Bobby jumps in.  He surprises everybody, and begins advancing on the NASCAR circuit.  A French driver, Jean Girard (Sasha Baron Cohen, Madagascar) comes to America to challenge Bobby.  Bobby gets into a horrific accident and becomes afraid of going fast.  The "plot," or what can be called a plot is extremely general.  Like many of these types of movies, it serves more as a link to various skits.  The overarching theme is Bobby regaining the will to drive and beating Girard, but Ferrell and McKay take the film on all sorts of random tangents.

Again, the jokes are typical Ferrell.  Bobby is likable, but a bit on the dumb side.  But remember, dumb in a charming way.  The character is not consistent; he can be camera shy, smart, dumb, dense, or whatever, depending on what the situation calls for.  Many of the jokes are quick one-liners (his sons are named Walker and Texas Ranger), and many gently mock NASCAR fans and Southerners.  The one distasteful element of Talledega Nights is the constant barrage of advertisements.  Anybody who watches NASCAR knows that each driver tries to cover his jumpsuit with as many ads as possible, and the same is true here.  What is a bit annoying is that at one point, there is a short commercial for a restaurant that appears on screen.  It's part of a running gag, but is annoying nonetheless.  Aside from this, Talledega Nights is likable but not memorable.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references, and brief comic violence.

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