The second edition of DSC’s COVID-19 Film Club covers a movie that’s absolutely adored by DSC’s deputy editor, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby. And yes, I had seen this film before last night, unlike Le Mans, and I’m proud of that.
If you want a motorsport-themed belly laugh amid all the doom and gloom then this is a film for you. Talladega Nights is the story (Ballad) of the life of fictional NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, played by Will Ferrell, and it’s an absolute classic. If you enjoy Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as a duo in comedy, and know your stuff about motorsport, then you will enjoy this one, a lot. Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s very re-watchable.
Talladega Nights is packed full of great scenes and one-liners, with a very versatile cast (featuring brilliant performances from Michael Clarke Duncan (Vincent), Leslie Bibb (Carley Bobby) and Gary Cole (Reese Bobby) in particular) that combine to capture the spirit of the NASCAR world in the USA. This is a film that really doesn’t take itself or the subject matter seriously, and in the best possible way.
The story itself is pretty cookie-cutter: Bobby gets called up mid-race to make his NASCAR debut when the Dennit Racing team’s lead driver climbs out of his car mid race for a chicken sandwich, goes on to dominate the sport with his pal Cal Naughton Jnr (John C. Reilly) before a VERY French Formula One driver Jean Gerard (Sacha Barren Cohen) turns up to “defeat” him. Standard.
Dull moments are few and far between, this is especially true if you are in any way knowledgable about NASCAR, because the attention to detail is superb. The cars featured are not fictional, neither is NASCAR as a sport. The transition between it going from the Winston Cup to the Nextel Cup is covered here, there are cameos from Fox Sports Broadcasters and other personalities such as Dale Earnhardt Jnr and Jamie McMurray. The other teams (beyond Dennit Racing) and drivers that are shown off in the racing scenes, as far as I can tell, are all true to life too.
The film’s soundtrack is also notable, featuring some great rock and country rock hits, and some thundering cars.
It will make you want to go see a NASCAR race live, even just to check and make sure it’s not as much of a thigh-slapping, moonshine-drinking, country-music-listening sport as the film portrays. Let’s be honest though… It probably is!
I certainly fancy a trip to Alabama for the Talladega 500 at some point having watched this flick. You probably will too…
Shake and Bake!