The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Adam McKay|
John C. Reilly
Sacha Baron Cohen
Michael Clarke Duncan
|Music by||Alex Wurman|
|Edited by||Brent White|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$163 million|
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 American sports comedy film directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, while written by both McKay and Ferrell. Additionally, the film features John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch, and Amy Adams, and appearances by Saturday Night Live alumni. NASCAR drivers Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. make cameos, as do broadcasting teams from NASCAR on Fox (Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip) and NASCAR on NBC (Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Benny Parsons). Talladega Nights was Pat Hingle's last film before his death in 2009.
Ricky Bobby is a man who grew up dreaming of going fast. While working on the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux, Bobby acts as a replacement driver after Terry decides to take a bathroom break while in last place. After finishing third in the race, Bobby gains fame and fortune at Dennit Racing. While racing, he meets his future wife Carley, after she flashes her breasts.
Years after winning several championships, Bobby persuades Dennit Racing to field a second team for his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. Bobby and Naughton become an unstoppable duo on the track, but are soon introduced to their new teammate, openly gay French Formula One driver Jean Girard. The Frenchman soon outperforms both Bobby and Naughton to become Dennit Racing's latest success story. Desperate to win, Bobby exceeds his limitations and crashes at Lowe's Motor Speedway. His declining performance subsequently gets him fired from his team; furthermore, Carley divorces him and marries Naughton.
Bobby moves in with his mom, Lucy Bobby, and brings his two disobedient sons Walker and Texas Ranger with him while taking a job as a pizza delivery man. His luck worsens when he loses his driver's license after colliding with a woman pushing a shopping cart and hitting a police officer. Meanwhile, Lucy is determined to reform her two disrespectful grandsons.
Bobby's estranged father Reese returns to remind him how to drive, using unorthodox methods such as putting a live cougar in his car, and forcing him to escape the police. When his father leaves him again after causing trouble at a restaurant, Bobby's former assistant Susan persuades him to return to NASCAR, since it is in his nature to drive fast. They quickly develop a romantic relationship when Bobby takes Susan's advice and race at Talladega Superspeedway. Bobby makes amends with Carley, Girard, and Naughton, while uniting with his pit crew chief and close friend Lucius Washington. At the start of the race, Bobby flies from last place to pass all of the drivers except Girard. In the closing laps, Naughton uses a slingshot technique for Bobby to pass Girard.
The replacement driver of Bobby's Wonder Bread car causes a massive wreck that takes out the field, except Bobby and Girard. On the final lap of the race, Bobby and Girard collide, wrecking their vehicles. Bobby and Girard exit their cars and begin running towards the finish line. Bobby reaches the line first, however both are disqualified for getting out of their cars. As Naughton takes the checkered flag, Girard offers Bobby a handshake, but Bobby responds by kissing him on the lips. Carley asks Bobby to move back in with her and start over, but he chooses to stay with Susan instead. At the end of the event, Bobby is congratulated in the parking lot by Reese; Bobby declares that it was no longer about winning, knowing that he has a family who loves him no matter where he finishes.
In a post credits scene, Grandma Lucy is shown reading a story to Walker and Texas Ranger, both having fully been disciplined by her and are now presented as polite, respectful children.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 71%, from 184 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner's circle." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, from 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
British magazine Total Film gave it a perfect five-star rating, with the following verdict: "Forget the recent blips; Ferrell is back in freewheeling form. More than just the year's funniest film, Talladega Nights is one of the best films of the year." Automotive journalist Leo Parente said, "the most accurate racing film ever, trust me," while emphasizing that he was not being sarcastic.
The film grossed $148.2 million in the U.S. and Canada and $14.8 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $163 million.
The film grossed $47 million in its first week, earning No. 1 film at the box office. Behind The Lego Movie ($69.1 million), it is the second largest opening for a film starring Will Ferrell.
The Blu-ray version was released on November 17, 2006. Standard DVD and PSP UMD were released on December 12, 2006. When viewing, the opening menu gives viewers choices for Super Speedway (with footage of the film used as introductions for special features, scene selection, etc.) or Short Track (without video introductions). The film is presented on standard DVD in four different configurations, giving consumers the choice between either theatrical or unrated versions and anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1 aspect ratio) or pan and scan presentations. As for the audio, each standard DVD carries Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French with optional English and French subtitles.
Extras for the standard DVD editions include a retrospective "25 Years Later" commentary track featuring most of the main cast, deleted and extended scenes along with bonus race footage, features, interviews with Bobby, Naughton, and Carley, a gag reel, a 'line-o-rama' feature with alternate dialogue from the film, and DVD-ROM content. The unrated disc contains additional deleted scenes ("Cal Calls Ricky" and "What'd You Do Today?"), an interview with Girard and Gregory, and commercials. The "Unrated & Uncut" DVD omits two scenes that were in theaters: Bobby, as a child, steals his mother's station wagon and the happenings of Bobby's pit crew. The scenes are not present in the deleted scenes either.
The Blu-ray release is available on a dual-layer disc with the majority of features presented in high definition. These include: nine deleted/extended scenes, three interviews, gag reel, line-o-rama, bonus race footage, Bobby & Naughton's Commercials, Bobby & Naughton's public service announcements, Walker & Texas Ranger, Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega and a theatrical trailer. Three non-high definition extras include: Daytona 500 Spot, NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup Spot, and Sirius and NASCAR Spot. In terms of technical aspects, this edition carries the unrated cut and presents the film with a widescreen transfer at its 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio and includes Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French and an uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio track in English, along with English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean and Thai subtitles.
The first one million 60GB and 20GB PlayStation 3 units included a free Blu-ray copy of the film.
On the final lap of the 2009 Aaron's 499 (one of two Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway), Carl Edwards crashed after Brad Keselowski made contact with his car on the final lap. His car turned backwards, went airborne, bounced off and crushed Ryan Newman's hood, flew into the catch fence, and came to a stop on the track apron. At this point, his car was just beyond the pit-road exit, as Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line. Edwards climbed out of his car and jogged to the finish line. He received a standing ovation from the crowd. Fox play-by-play commentator Mike Joy commented on how it was "shades of Ricky Bobby." Edwards was later asked about this on Larry King Live; he responded, "I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan. He did that at the end of Talladega Nights."
At the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, Kurt Busch's unsponsored No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet used Ricky Bobby's "ME" paint scheme. Busch and his team were heard reciting movie lines over the team radio. He was running up front when contact from behind sent him spinning. In October 2013, Busch's No. 78 was sponsored by Wonder Bread for the fall race at Talladega. Its paint scheme was based on Ricky's original No. 26.
During qualifying at the 2013 United States Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel and his race engineer Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin made reference to the movie over team radio when Vettel posted the fastest lap and gained pole position. The pair referenced the movie in saying "shake and bake" over the team radio, the same phrase used by Bobby and Naughton.