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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby - Review

Talladega Nights

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 25 Years Later – Commentary with Director Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, John C Reilly And More!; Deleted And Extended Scenes; Bonus Race Footage; Interviews With Ricky, Cal & Carley; Will Ferrell Returns To Talladega; Line-O-Rama; Gag Reel.

IT’S been a while since Will Ferrell really made us laugh but after a few false starts he’s back on track with the glorious Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Reuniting with Anchorman co-writer Andy McKay, Ferrell has created another sly comic character in the form of Ricky Bobby, a speed-obsessed NASCAR driver who is one of the most popular and successful drivers in history.

Born in the back of a speeding car and prone to stealing his mum’s vehicle as a boy, Bobby lives for racing but he’s about to suffer a crisis of confidence when his superiority is placed under threat by the arrival of an openly gay French Formula One driver (Sasha Baron Cohen), who determines to expose him as an idiot.

When the two collide on the track, Bobby loses his nerve and has to be coaxed back to the racing world by his long-lost father (Gary Cole).

In doing so, Bobby comes to realise the value of true friendship having made a career out of leaving his former best buddy (John C Reilly) in the shadows, as well as the love of a good woman (Amy Adams).

Tales of sporting heroes who rise, fall and then rise again are hardly a new concept but seldom have they been done as hilariously as this. Talladega Nights seeks nothing more than to entertain and the jokes fly as fast as the cars themsevles, with an impossibly high success rate.

Several of the set pieces will have you doubled up with laughter, including an encounter with a cougar, while just about every character is allowed to shine in some way.

Ferrell delivers another variation on his manic formula for success but is never less than engaging and he’s clever enough to ensure that he never hogs the limelight (much as he did with his ensemble cast in Anchorman).

Hence, the likes of Cohen and Reilly also get to shine. The latter, in particular, is a revelation and almost walks off with all of the movie’s best lines.

But Cohen is brilliant, too, as the oh-so camp French racer whose accent is almost beyond parody. His random exchanges with Ferrell’s all-American racing legend are outrageously funny.

McKay also ensures that the racing sequences are genuinely thrilling, mixing some crunching action with yet more gags. It’s a delicate balancing act but one that both Ferell and McKay master expertly.

Talladega Nights is therefore nothing short of comedy gold – one that successfully mines the depths of Ferrell’s comic talent to take the chequered flag in spectacular style. Buckle up and enjoy the wild ride.

Read our interview with Will Ferrell

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 50mins