Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

I can remember seeing this movie in theaters and now it’s celebrating a 10 year anniversary, seems like a fitting time to write a review about it. This review may contain spoilers. I know not everyone is a Will Ferrell fan, but this movie is definitely one of his best efforts. The first scene sets the tone and lets you know what kind of movie you are about to watch. It is about a Nascar driver, Ricky Bobby and his rise, fall, and then rise again in the sport.

Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a fantastic character. He is big, bold, brash, and hilariously stupid. His exchanges and interactions with his best friend and teammate Cal Naughton Jr (John C. Reilly) make up some of the best parts of the movie. One of my favorite scenes is after Cal moves into Ricky’s home and Ricky is living with his mom. Ricky is upset that Cal has betrayed their friendship by stealing his wife and home, but Cal still wants to be friends. Cal calls Ricky and is asking him how to have the stereo on at the same time as he’s watching tv, Ricky asks him why and Cal says “I like to party”. It cracks me up every time. Ricky keeps trying to end the phone call since he’s mad at Cal, Cal keeps extending the conversation. Ricky just exclaims “why am I still talking to you man?!” It is such a relatable situation, friends mad at each other and yet still sucked into conversation. We can laugh at that. What tops the hilarity of this scene is the level of dumb in the question Cal uses to initiate the conversation.

Another classic scene is when Ricky crashes his car and believes he is on fire. He strips down to just his underwear and helmet comically fast and is running around as he would if he were actually on fire. Cal leaves his car and rushes to “save” his him from the invisible fire. The ridiculousness in this whole scene leaves the commentators in the movie, as well as the viewers of the movie, to just sit back in awe and laugh. The film is saturated with scenes such as this, dramatic and comedic interpretations of Nascar culture and lifestyle, openly mocking the stereotypes.

Beyond just Ferrell and Reilly there are a number of high quality characters each played very well by the actors and actresses. Specifically, I enjoyed the contributions from Jane Lynch and Gary Cole as Ricky’s parents. They did not have the biggest roles but the scripts and humor fit the tone. Sasha Baron Cohen plays the main antagonist Jean Girard, a Formula One racer who was hired to beat Ricky. Sasha is known to play wild and crazy characters in his other movies and was appropriately cast for this unique character. He dialed back his usual intensity so as not to over shadow the main character. Overall it is a very enjoyable and funny movie, however it is definitely not what you would call a “smart comedy”. This is stupid humor but it will put a smile on your face over and over again.

Talladega Nights earns itself a very solid rating of  2 Apologies.

Batman V Superman: Ultimate Edition BluRay

I was super excited to see this movie in the theaters. I grew up a huge Batman fan and still find myself watching anything and everything Batman, even with commercials. Everyone knew how negatively the critics felt about this movie, making it difficult to head to the show without having a predisposition.

I came away from the showing pleased, however I felt something was missing to make it even better. I loved the cinematography, it added power to the story. The action was fast paced and reminded me of the dramatic interactions of the Arkham games.

I was impressed by Ben Affleck’s take on Bruce Wayne/Batman even though he received a lot of flack for the role. The bar was set pretty low for him, thanks to the critics and social media, but he was very believable in character. Henry Cavill is one of the better, if not best, Superman castings and is very good in his role. He captured the essence of the movie in his acting and made a fictional character come to life. Cavill and Affleck add tremendous believe-ability to what is otherwise an unbelievable story. Even Jesse Eisenberg gives a commendable, but different, interpretation of Lex Luther Jr. I did find his character annoying during first viewing. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I had to watch twice before I appreciated his character. I was unsure of Gal Gadot’s ability to portray Wonder Woman but she outperformed my expectations, despite her small role. Her performance in Batman vs Superman was enough to make me excited for her own movie coming out June 2017 (at least as of now).

The story feels slightly cramped to be forced inside one movie. There is quite a variety of protagonist and antagonist battles that build and shift among characters making a very elaborate story which was probably not quite enough for two movies, but a little bit much for one. Some of the dialogue could be improved, it didn’t feel as natural as one would hope.

I would give the theatrical version 3 Apologies.

When I heard that the DVD/BluRay release was going to be an unrated Director’s Cut Ultimate Edition, I thought “this must be what I was looking for from the beginning!” Naturally, I preordered the Ultimate Edition BluRay and couldn’t wait to watch it with Mrs. Apologist when it finally arrived. The cut contains an additional 30 minutes of footage, which makes a huge difference in the quality of the story and of the film overall. At 182 minutes run time it is quite the endeavor to sit down and watch the whole thing in one sitting (highly recommend to watch from the comfort of your own home, ample snacks, pause button for bathroom breaks, and a rewind capability for when Mrs. Apology falls asleep), but I enjoyed it more on the second viewing.

My rating for the unrated version improved to only 2 Apologies as it remains an enjoyable movie but still far from perfect. I am looking forward to the other movies in the group (Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League, etc)

  • -Movie Apologist