NASCAR champion Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is threatened by newcomer Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), a gay, French Formula One driver. With John C. Reilly, Gary Cole and Michael Clarke Duncan. Written by Ferrell and Adam McKay ("Anchorman"), who also directed.
Big question: Can "Talladega Nights" duplicate the hilarity of the stupid but laugh-until-you-cry "Anchorman"?
Skip it: Without someone like Christina Applegate's ambitious newswoman in "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights" lacks any sane figure to balance out the constant barrage of its characters' sometimes-funny idiocy. The script underutilizes Reilly and Cohen and wastes supporting parts by Amy Adams and David Koechner; by so often falling back on Ferrell's no-holds-barred foolishness, "Talladega Nights" seems to be driving in circles.
Catch it: For Adams' one major scene, as passionate a delivery of inspirational drivel as you'll see this year.
Bottom line: The performances are all hilarious, but "Talladega Nights" goes for cheap shots at Southerners and gays rather than mining clever comedy from its ultra-ripe NASCAR subject matter. As a result, the movie is as throwaway as a bumper sticker and a few gay jokes short of a "Will and Grace" episode.
Bonus: As it turns out, Applebee's is a great special-occasion dining destination. Nothing's classier than mozzarella sticks!
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby'
Directed by Adam McKay; screenplay by Will Ferrell and McKay; cinematography by Oliver Wood; edited by Brent White; production design by Clayton R. Hartley; music by Alex Wurman; produced by Jimmy Miller and Judd Apatow. A Columbia Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:50. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence).
Ricky Bobby - Will Ferrell
Cal Naughton Jr. - John C. Reilly
Jean Girard - Sacha Baron Cohen
Reese Bobby - Gary Cole
Lucius Washington - Michael Clarke Duncan
Carley Bobby - Leslie Bibb
Lucy Bobby - Jane Lynch
Susan - Amy AdamsCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times