SHORT TAKE: “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (***)

Posted by · 4:44 pm · July 25th, 2006

Columbia Pictures\' Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky BobbyI’m no fan of Will Ferrell’s comedic sensibilities in the slightest, but “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is probably the best film of his typical mold to hit screens yet.  I know “Anchorman” has its devoted, and “Old School” was apparently good enough in the eyes of Bravo to make it to an obscenely high position on their recent (awful) list of the best comedies of all time.

But “Talladega Nights” has the right mixture of peripheral comedic brilliance that Ferrell has needed for some time, to off-set that “me, me, me” schtick that hasn’t worked since Jim Carrey started talking out of his ass.

Nothing in the way of a full review here, but a few thoughts can’t hurt.  Not only does John C. Reilly prove himself something of a hilarious comedic sideman once again (playing a similar character to his “Days of Thunder” role, only this guy ate paint chips as a kid), but he at times beats Ferrell at his own game.  Gary Cole, meanwhile, is becoming the master of the extended cameo yuk-yuk.

Sacha Baron Cohen (along with on-screen hubby Andy Richter) gives enough reasons to slap your knee – and expect him to blow up even more once “Borat” hits cinemas, giving the actor a nice one-two punch this year).  It’s always great to see Pat Hingle on screen, no matter how inconsequential the part, and Amy Adams…Amy Adams has just…never been sexier.  It’s like a new breed.  Subjective, of course…

Ferrell is what you would expect, though he really nails that southern fried cluelessness that has become it’s own standard.  Once “Stranger Than Fiction” releases in November, showcasing acting chops that ought to turn a head or two, the Golden Globe nominee will have potentially started the crossover that can be a painful process for comedians, bridging the gap to dramatic tendencies.  We’ll see how that flies with the critics and public at large.

In the meantime, go out and enjoy a laugh or two when “Talladega Nights” hits theaters next weekend.  I’m fairly certain the appeal will be there for Ferrell fans, but this viewer, not one to jump in line for the comedic stylings of the Saturday Night Live alumn, was pleasantly surprised by some nice goofball entertainment.  Take it for what it’s worth.

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