‘Talledega Nights’

‘Talledega Nights’

Some movies you don’t analyze; you just watch ’em and enjoy ’em. “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” falls snuggly into this kinda movie experience. Even the convoluted title lets you know you’re in for a crazy fun ride with plenty of laughs.

A ballad would imply a song or something romantic in nature. Well, the only love Ricky Bobby has is for going fast. His philosophy is “You’re either first, or you’re last.” However, his world is turned upside-down when a French Formula One driver threatens to break his winning streak.

“Talladega Nights” reunites Will Ferrell with writer/director Adam McKay (“Anchorman”). When these two get together, great things happen.

Ricky Bobby is pretty much Ferrell’s George Dub’ya impression (just as Burgundy was his Goulet). At first, I was skeptical of this idea, but Ferrell has altered it enough for it to be more like a cousin to the Bushes.

Ricky Bobby may have only about half the brain of a normal person but that’s still a quarter more than his best bud and teammate, Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly). Reilly is an impressive actor. I throw him into that Paul Giamatti group: vastly underrated. He can do heavy (“Gangs of NY”), silly (“Anger Management”) or sweet (“The Hard Eight” and “Magnolia”) all with conviction (oh, yeah, he can sing too, “Chicago”).

Playing Jean Girard, Ricky Bobby’s nemesis, is Sacha Baron Cohen. Girard represents everything Ricky Bobby’s world could never understand — jazz? espresso? Plus, he might be a better driver. Many know Sacha as Ali G or as the voice of Julien in “Madagascar.” I felt he held his own with Ferrell, which is pretty tough. His star is just on the rise.

Also putting in a stellar performance is Gary Cole as Ricky’s estranged father/dope dealer, Reese. My favorite of Cole’s characters so far is Mr. Lumbergh from “Office Space,” but Reese is a close second. He’s about as mangy as The Dude.

The DL: Ferrell fans will mosdef be pleased. This is classic Ferrell, apt to hold company with Ron Burgundy or Frank the Tank (which are my favorite of Ferrell’s oeuvre). Yeah, it’s that good. Stay for the outtakes, they are the best part ... besides that cougar of course.

To the parents: “Ricky Bobby” is rated PG-13 basically for the language. I would be afraid of younger viewers repeating some of the lines that Ricky Bobby’s kids said. Theirs are the nastiest.

Rating: If movies were cartoons, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” would be Looney Tunes.

E-mail Patrick Vincent at fromthemoviemaven@hotmail.com.

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