Since his birth at 100mph on the back seat of his dad’s hotted-up Chevelle, Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) has had a hankering for speed. Though dad Reese (Cole) soon leaves the picture, he briefly reappears in Ricky’s life 10 years later with one piece of questionable advice: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Though Reese later admits to being high at the time, Ricky takes the motto to heart.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and we find Ricky working as a pit crew member for down-in-the-dumps NASCAR team Dennit Racing. When their last-placed driver leaves in search of a chicken sandwich, Ricky takes the wheel and manages third place.
His ongoing victories and lucrative sponsorship deals allow Dennit Racing to field a second car helmed by Ricky’s best mate Cal Naughton (Reilly). The two dominate the NASCAR circuit, though their methods often cost the team championship points, much to the chagrin of team owner Larry Dennit Jr (Germann).
Hoping to win the championship, Dennit Jr hires a new driver, openly gay Frenchman and “Formula Un” champion Jean Girard (Baron Cohen at his most absurd). Jean dominates in his debut race while listening to classical music and sipping tea, while Ricky wipes out spectacularly trying to keep up. Things only get worse for him when Jean becomes Dennit Racing’s new golden boy, and he finds out that his buddy Cal has shacked up with his wife Carley (Bibb).
Rejected and dejected, Ricky is forced to move back in with his mother Lucy (Lynch) and the foul-mouthed young ’uns Walker and Texas Ranger. While delivering some tough love to the feral kids, Lucy enlists the long-absent Reese to help Ricky get his mojo back. Using unconventional methods like forcing Ricky to drive blindfolded or with an angry cougar in the car, Reese helps his son conquer his fears, and he returns to NASCAR in an unsponsored entry.
Things culminate back at Talladega Superspeedway, where Ricky must challenge Jean, stick it to Dennit Jr, and mend his relationship with Cal.
So long as you’re accepting of the Will Ferrell brand of comedy, Talladega Nights is worth checking out. The humour is rarely mature, but most of it sticks. Between some impressive crash sequences and heaps of quotable lines (“I’m gonna come at you like a spider monkey” is a Telfo favourite), there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
- 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle
- Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR
- Ford Taurus NASCAR
- 1973 Ford LTD
- 1971 Ford Mustang
- and a roster of NASCAR racers
- Will Ferrell
- John C Reilly
- Sacha Baron Cohen
- Gary Cole
- Michael Clarke Duncan
- Leslie Bibb
- Jane Lynch
- Amy Adams
- Greg Germann
Heaps of well-shot racing footage and a few spectacular crashes, plus some street chase action for good measure
A talented but selfish NASCAR star must fight back when a new driver appears on the scene
COOL FLICK FACT:
Ricky, Cal and Jean were introduced as real drivers at the 2005 Talladega 500. Ricky and Cal were cheered by the crowd, while Jean was booed when he was revealed to be French.