Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Adam McKay|
|Produced by||Jimmy Miller
|Written by||Will Ferrell
John C. Reilly
Sacha Baron Cohen
Michael Clarke Duncan
|Music by||Alex Wurman|
|Editing by||Brent White|
Mosaic Media Group
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||108 minutes
121 minutes (Unrated cut)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 American comedy film directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell, and written by McKay and Ferrell. The film also features John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Jane Lynch, and Amy Adams. Various Saturday Night Live alumni also make appearances. Real life NASCAR drivers like Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also make cameos as themselves, as do the broadcasting teams of NASCAR on Fox (Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and Darrell Waltrip) and NASCAR on NBC (Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach, Jr. and Benny Parsons). Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was also Pat Hingle's last film, before his death in 2009.
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a NASCAR driver who wants to go fast. While he was working as the pit crew of Dennit Racing driver Terry Cheveaux (Adam McKay), Ricky replaces him and ends up finishing in third place, despite starting mid-race in last place. Ricky quickly soars to the top of NASCAR by achieving his fame and fortune at Dennit Racing and meeting his future wife, Carly (Leslie Bibb). Ricky eventually persuades Dennit to field an additional car and arranges to have his best friend, Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly), on his team. While he and Cal are on top of the racing world, Ricky challenges his flamboyant French Formula One arch-rival, Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), who outperforms him on the track and becomes Dennit Racing's next top driver. Desperate to regain his dominance, Ricky pushes himself too hard during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ends up going airborne. While paramedics attempt to take him to the hospital, Ricky ends up running around on the track in his helmet and underwear erroneously insisting that he is on fire. While recovering from his accident, Ricky persists in believing that he is paralyzed, but realizes that he is not after intentionally stabbing a knife into his leg. Attempting to regain a spot for his team, Ricky test drives at Rockingham Speedway before the next race, but fear causes him to flashback to his earlier delusions. Desperate to remain married with Ricky, Carly dumps him and later marries Cal, who moves to Ricky's old home before he returns from the speedway. Ricky soon finds out about his divorce upon his return, but despite Cal's desire to remain best friends, Ricky suddenly breaks off his friendship after he accused Cal of wrecking his life.
Ricky moves to his new home with his two sons, Walker and Texas Ranger (Houston Tumlin and Grayson Russell), and takes his job as a pizza deliveryman. However, Ricky is reduced to using a bicycle and riding the bus after losing his license for colliding his pick-up truck with a customer's shopping cart and the Sheriff later wrote him the ticket for this accident. With Ricky's life at his lowest point, his father, Reese (Gary Cole), teaches him to conquer his demons by driving a classic Chevrolet Chevelle with a live cougar. After receiving his retraining and guidance from Reese, Ricky finally regains his confidence, but Reese intentionally walks out from him with the parting knowledge that the mantra around which Ricky had based his life was in fact meaningless. Ricky talks to his assistant and love interest, Susan (Amy Adams), who convinces him to return to NASCAR not because of his desire to live up to the expectations of others, but because it is his nature to drive fast. Ricky and Susan fall in love with each other after Ricky decided to heed Susan's advice to race at the Talladega 500.
Before the race, Ricky makes amends with Cal, Girard, and Carly, and finally reunites with his pit crew chief and close friend, Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan). Ricky is forced to start the race from the back of the starting grid after Lucius rebuilt his car's engine from spare parts donated by other independent drivers. At the start of the race, Ricky manages to pass all the other drivers except Girard. Heading towards the race's final laps, Dennit orders Cal to knock Ricky out of the race. However, Cal refuses and pulls ahead of Ricky, and Cal intentionally allows Ricky to slingshot around him to be in the lead with Girard. On lap 182, the replacement driver of Ricky's Wonder Bread car suddenly runs into Cal, which causes a massive wreck that disables all the other drivers except Ricky and Girard. On the final lap of the race, Ricky and Girard end up colliding with each other and somersault down the front straightaway towards the finish line. Determined not to give up, Ricky and Girard exit their cars and sprint on foot to the finish line to the song "We Belong" by Pat Benatar. Although Ricky wins the foot race, he and Girard are disqualified for exiting their cars, and Cal officially wins Talladega 500 by default after finishing in third place during the wrecks. Ricky and Cal finally reconcile their friendship and family shortly after the race. Ricky later meets up with all of his extended family in the speedway's parking lot to reunite for a dinner party at Applebee's.
- Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby, a NASCAR driver who only believes in winning throughout his career. He drives the #26 Wonder Bread car during his soar to the top of NASCAR, and the #62 "ME" car at the Talladega 500. The number of Ricky's Wonder Bread car, #26, was also the number used by Jamie McMurray during his time at Roush Racing from 2006 to 2009, along with Michael Waltrip in the 2013 Daytona 500. Also, #26 is currently used for Sprint Cup Series rookie Cole Whitt at Swan Racing.
- John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton, Jr., Ricky's best friend and teammate. By coincidence, Reilly also played a car chief in Days of Thunder, while Cal's sponsor, Old Spice, sponsored Tony Stewart from 2001 to 2010. Cal's car number, #47, is currently used in Sprint Cup racing by JTG Daugherty Racing. Reilly would later reunite with Ferrell to co-write Step Brothers.
- Sacha Baron Cohen as Jean Girard, Ricky's French Formula One arch-rival, whose dream is to eventually "move to Stockholm and design a currency for use by dogs and cats". Girard is described as "talented, eccentric, dominating" on the Formula One circuit in a SPEED broadcast segment. While challenging Ricky, Girard drives the #55 Perrier car, which is the car number currently used by Brian Vickers.
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Lucius Washington, Ricky's pit crew chief and close friend.
- Leslie Bibb as Carly Bobby, Ricky's wife and later married to Cal after Ricky fails to regain a spot on his team.
- Gary Cole as Reese Bobby, Ricky's father.
- Jane Lynch as Lucy Bobby, Ricky's mother.
- Amy Adams as Susan, Ricky's assistant and love interest.
- Andy Richter as Gregory, the openly gay Girard's partner, and a world-class trainer of German Shepherds.
- Houston Tumlin and Greyson Russell as Walker and Texas Ranger Bobby, Ricky's two sons.
- Adam McKay (the film's director) as Terry Cheveaux, an apathetic driver who Ricky replaces at the beginning of the film.
- David Koechner, Ian Roberts, and Jack McBrayer as Hershell, Kyle, and Glenn, Ricky's three pit crew members.
- Pat Hingle as Larry Dennit, Sr., original owner of Ricky's team, Dennit Racing. His son, Larry, Jr., takes over the team halfway through Ricky's career.
- Greg Germann as Larry Dennit, Jr., the new owner of Dennit Racing, who is concerned only with season point totals and winning sponsors.
- Molly Shannon as Mrs. Dennit, the younger Dennit's alcoholic wife.
- Ted Manson as Chip, Ricky's elderly, long-suffering father-in-law.
- Rob Riggle as Jack Telmont, the Speed Channel commentator.
- Cameos as themselves
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in a crowd asking for Ricky's autograph. Earnhardt tells Ricky not to tell the other drivers his opinion of Ricky. He also appears in a deleted scene at the garage in Talladega.
- Jamie McMurray loses to Ricky at Texas Motor Speedway when Ricky wins by driving in reverse, in which Ricky gives McMurray the finger, commenting that he got it at Target, which was a sponsor of the team McMurray raced for at the time (he is now with Chip Ganassi Racing).
- Mike Joy, NASCAR on Fox commentator
- Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds, NASCAR on Fox color analysts. The FOX team appears during Ricky's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Waltrip comments on the likelihood that Ricky will be black-flagged for driving around the track with a giant view-obstructing Fig Newtons sticker on his windshield.
- Dick Berggren, NASCAR on Fox field reporter, seen interviewing Ricky in pit lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Note: The race that Fox covers is said to be 500 miles, but Fox televises the Coca-Cola 600. At the time, NBC covered the fall 500 miler, now known as the Bank of America 500.
- Bill Weber, NASCAR on NBC commentator
- Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach, Jr., NASCAR on NBC color analysts. They appear with Weber at the Talladega race. Parsons is heard commenting about a reporter who first claims to have spotted Kenny Rogers in the stands (which none of them believe), and Parsons believes the reporter has had a stroke when he mistakes a black man for Larry Bird
- Elvis Costello and Mos Def, guests at Girard's party.
- Bob Jenkins, Speed news anchorman.
- Rick Benjamin, Speed news correspondent.
- Greg Biffle, in a Special Feature but not credited.
Critical reception 
Reviews for the film were positive. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 72% of critics gave the film a positive review, with the consensus being "Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights' mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner's circle." It has a 66 rating at Metacritic. 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 films of the year." Automotive journalist Leo Parente said about the movie: "the most accurate racing film ever, trust me", emphasizing that he was not being sarcastic.
The film grossed $47,042,215 in its first week, becoming the #1 film at the box office. It is the second-biggest opening weekend ever for an original comedy, after Bruce Almighty, and the biggest opening for a film starring Will Ferrell. As of April 26, 2007, the film had grossed an estimated $162,966,177 worldwide.
Home media 
Blu-ray was released on November 17, 2006 and standard DVD and PSP UMD on December 12, 2006. The menu gives the viewer the choice of Super Speedway (with footage of the film used as intros when special features, scene selection, etc. is chosen) or Short Track (without video intros). 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 & 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, featurettes, interviews with Ricky, Cal, and Carly, 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 Jean and Gregory, and commercials. The "Unrated & Uncut" DVD omits two scenes that were in theaters; the scene where young Ricky steals his mother's station wagon, and the scene which shows what happened to Ricky'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 including: nine deleted/extended scenes, three interviews, gag reel, line-o-rama, bonus race footage, Ricky & Cal's Commercials (However, Cal is not seen in any of the commercials), Ricky & Cal's PSAs, Walker & Texas Ranger, Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega and a theatrical trailer. There are also three extras not presented in high definition: 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 1 million 60GB and 20GB PlayStation 3 units included a free Blu-ray copy of the film.
In homage to Talladega Nights, on the final lap of the 2009 Aaron's 499 (one of two Sprint Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway), Carl Edwards climbed out of his wrecked automobile after Brad Keselowski made contact with his car on the final lap. Edwards turned backwards, went airborne, bounced off and destroyed Ryan Newman's hood, then flew into the catch fence, before skidding to a stop on the apron just beyond the pit-road exit, as Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. crossed the finish line. Edwards then climbed out of his car, and jogged to the finish line to a standing ovation from the crowd. NASCAR on Fox play-by-play commentator Mike Joy commented 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."
The reaction and apprehension about the spoof on NASCAR film was such that Alabama author and writer, Will Estell's character was originally to depict the CEO of Ford Motor Company presenting the winning Talladega trophy to Reilly's Naughton, however this changed at the last moment the day of filming because Ford refused to lend its likeness to the film. This, causing the wardrobe department to remove the Ford hat that Estell was wearing in order to have his character show no affiliation to the auto company.
In 2011, the video game Saints Row the Third spoofed the scene where Ricky drives with a live cougar in the passenger seat so he can learn to ride with fear. In a mission in Saints Row the Third, the main character drives with a tiger in order to fight an enemy organization.
In 2012, Kurt Busch ran his #51 car with the "ME" paint scheme used by Ricky Bobby at the end of Talladega Nights during the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, right down to the cougar painted on the hood and the rear bumper tag "I Wanna Go Fast". Busch had spent the majority of the season with little or no sponsorship after leaving racing powerhouse Penske Racing and joining James Finch's underfunded Phoenix Racing. Busch's girlfriend Patricia Driscoll spent months getting permission from Sony and Will Ferrell as well as other trademark and license holders. Busch's real-life fall from grace during the 2011-12 Sprint Cup off-season after being fired from Penske has been compared to Ricky Bobby's, as has his efforts to return to the top teams in the Sprint Cup Series, such as putting the one-car Furniture Row Racing team in the 2013 Chase. In October 2013, Busch's #78 was sponsored by Wonder Bread for the fall race at Talladega, with a paint scheme based on Ricky Bobby's original #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 Ferrell's character Ricky Bobby and his teammate.
- "TALLADEGA NIGHTS - THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2006-07-25. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Rotten Tomatoes.com
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Metacritic.com
- http://www.totalfilm.com/reviews/cinema/talladega-nights-the-ballad-of-ricky-bobby, Totalfilm.com
- Jackie Stewart / 'Weekend Of A Champion' Film - Shakedown Trackdown
- "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby". Box Office Mojo. April 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-26.
- Aaron's 499 Last Lap + Edwards Massive Crash + Interview Talledega Nascar 2009 Sprint Cup Series, YouTube
- "CNN LARRY KING LIVE - Aired April 28, 2009 -Joseph Ellis loved it, he giggled and wet his pants! 21:00 ET, CNN Transcripts". CNN.
- "Talladega gets ready for the Ballad of Kurt Busch". USA Today. May 5, 2012.
- Pockrass, Bob (October 18, 2013). "Kurt Busch part pitchman, part showman with Wonder bread car". Sporting News. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
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- Official website
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby at the Internet Movie Database
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby at Box Office Mojo
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby at Rotten Tomatoes
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby at Metacritic