Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

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Talladega Nights:
The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Talladega nights.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Adam McKay
Produced by Jimmy Miller
Judd Apatow
Written by Will Ferrell
Adam McKay
Starring Will Ferrell
John C. Reilly
Sacha Baron Cohen
Gary Cole
Michael Clarke Duncan
Bill Hader
Music by Alex Wurman
Cinematography Oliver Wood
Edited by Brent White
Apatow Productions
Relativity Media
Mosaic Media Group
GH One
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • August 4, 2006 (2006-08-04)
Running time
108 minutes[1]
121 minutes (Unrated cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $72.5 million
Box office $163 million[2]

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 and Michael Clarke Duncan. 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.

Racecars, stunt coordination, and haulers were provided by joint efforts between Andy Hillenburg's race team Fast Track Enterprises and K4 Motorsports, both of which had previously worked in other stock car racing movies such as Herbie: Fully Loaded and 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. K4 Motorsports provided the custom wrapping for movie-specific racecars (such as the #62 'Me' car).[3]

Racetrack scenes at Texas Motor Speedway were shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, using a Porsche Cayenne outfitted with camera mounts on all four corners of the car. Much of the opening scene of the movie where Ricky Bobby first steps into a racecar at Talladega Superspeedway was actually filmed at Rockingham Speedway.


Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is a NASCAR driver who wants to go fast. While he was working on 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 archrival, 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, barrel-rolling several times.

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. As a result, Larry Dennit fires Ricky Bobby from the team and installs Jean Girard with Ricky's pit crew, while sending Ricky's Wonderbread car to a replacement driver (Jamie McMurray, who in real life at the time drove a car of the same number, 26.)

Desperate to not go back to poverty, and remain wealthy, Carly assumes that Ricky's career is over. Carly dumps him, gets a finalized divorce, 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 accuses Cal of wrecking his life.

Ricky moves back with his mom, Lucy Bobby (Jane Lynch), 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, and with his life being unable to get any worse, his father, Reese (who was absent for most of Ricky's life, Gary Cole), teaches him to conquer his demons by driving a car 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 new 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 decides to heed Susan's advice to race at the Talladega 500. He starts his own team and prepares himself a pit crew and racecar for his races.

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 the 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 then proceeds to get thrown out of Applebee's.



Critical reception [edit]

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 72%, based on 143 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."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5]

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."[6] Automotive journalist Leo Parente said about the movie: "the most accurate racing film ever, trust me", emphasizing that he was not being sarcastic.[7]

Box office[edit]

Ferrell at the premiere of Talladega Nights, September 12, 2006.

The film grossed $148.2 million in North America and $14.8 million in other territories for a total worldwide gross of $163 million.[8]

The film grossed $47 million in its first week, finishing #1 film at the box office. It is the second-biggest opening for a film starring Will Ferrell, behind The Lego Movie ($69.1 million).

Home media [edit]

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.

Real-world homage[edit]

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."[9] 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."[10]

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 Roger Penske's Team Penske and joining James Finch's underfunded Phoenix Racing. Busch's now ex-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 have 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, before he was hired by Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season.[11] 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.[12]

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 Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr.[13]


External links[edit]