It’s been a rough twelve months for Will Ferrell fans. It seemed the funnyman was losing his touch. Kicking and Screaming was an unfunny flop, Bewitched was so bad that even if I saw it on an airplane I would still want to walk out and Melinda and Melinda showed his more serious and less interesting side. He had a couple of cameos that raised a smile or two in The Producers and The Wedding Crashers, but overall it seemed that the prolific comedian was making too many movies too quickly. It appeared that the silly glory days of Anchorman, Elf and Old School were behind him. That is until the release of Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby reaffirmed his status as the silliest man in movies.
Ferrell co-wrote and stars in this movie about a dim-witted Nascar driver who rises to the top of his field only to lose everything when a French Formula One racer undermines his confidence. Call it the Fast and the Hilarious because it is the funniest movie that Ferrell has been in a while.
As Ricky Bobby, Ferrell has just the right amount of mindless redneck emptiness behind his eyes, the perfect slanted grin and all-American go-for-broke spirit to bring the Nascar driver to life. Ferrell is also one of the pluckiest of the comics currently working on screen. No joke is too broad to be milked, no chance to strip down to his underwear is missed and no pratfall is too undignified for the fearless Ferrell. Whether he is saying his version of grace at the dinner table re-imagining Jesus way he likes to see him, as a baby not as the long-haired hippie, or driving with a live cougar in the passenger seat every joke is pushed to the limit.
Good supporting work from Gary Cole, John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen, (better known as Ali G), make Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby the funniest movie of the summer.