Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
PG-13
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -4

Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan. Comedy. Written by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay. Directed by Adam McKay.

FILM SYNOPSIS: NASCAR sensation Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) has one goal to win at all costs. His neer-do-well father instilled the philosophy: If youre not the first, youre last. While that attitude has made him a national hero, its now about to be tested. Theres a new flamboyant driver in town a Frenchman, one Jean Girard (Cohen).

PREVIEW REVIEW: Will Ferrells humor is always very conceptional, much like a skit from Saturday Night Live. And like his work on that program, if the concept is not bringing the desired response, he thinks making it louder and more raucous will save the routine. Often that belief worked on his TV alma mater. It seldom does in his movies.

Remember Gary Larsons The Far Side? His daily comics were hysterical because, while they contained an element of outrageousness, there was also a truism or theme that we related to. Sad to say, theres not a lot of such observational humor in movies, today. What there is, is outrageousness. A few examples come to mind.

After surviving a car crash, the lead jumps from the car and races around the track, delusionally thinking he is on fire. He strips down to underwear and socks and flees from ambulance medics. (By the way, in how many films have we seen Will in his BVDs, now?) Then there are the two boys playing his 7- and 8-year-old sons, both with more attitude than Colin Farrell and with the same obnoxious vocabulary. The joke is, the two boys have been raised to take no guff from anyone not even grandpa. Shut up, old man, before I go --- ---- all over your ass. And then theres Ricky Bobbys nemesis, a gay French racer whom Ricky likes to call Peppy Labitch. The antagonist promises to return home and let Ricky remain rooster of the racetrack if he will merely kiss him in public. Being a good ol NASCAR boy, theres no way thats going to happen. Yeah, right. We know right away, before this movie ends, were going to see these two men in a passionate lip-lock. Why? Because its outrageous.

I keep hoping the I-cantbelieve-I-just-heard-that factor has run its coarse. The shock value that spills forth from talented but unsophisticated comics is limited in scope and ultimately numbing to the soul. Whats more, these guys fail to tap into humor from sources other than bodily malfunctions. Glad to say, there are exceptions to the rule, and there is a very bright spot on the way to todays comic scene. A few nights ago I viewed a DVD of a standup comedy event. Hosted by Everybody Loves Raymonds Patricia Heaton, Thou Shalt Laugh presents several very funny Christian comics. The DVD featured routines that made us adults laugh out loud and other material that pleased my 5- and 7-year-old nephews. Thou Shalt Laugh is slated for release in November. Believe me, youll be hearing a lot about this one. It may possibly change the direction of todays comedy. I live in hope.

As for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, there are some funny moments. After all, these are talented people. But I found that every other laugh came from sexual bawdiness, while the remaining gags were yanked from bad-boy behavior that wears thin if youre not Larry the Cable Guy.

Video Alternative: The Great Race. A comic spoof of old-time melodramas, with Jack Lemmon very funny as the villainous Professor Fate, Tony Curtis stalwart as the Great Leslie, and Natalie Wood luminous as a suffragette. I think this film has some of the greatest site gags of all time, plus a great sword fight between Leslie and the evil Ross Martin. It also has the pie fight to end all pie fights

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: Crude language and visuals all the way through.
Obscene Language: 15 or so expletives such as damns and hells, but also a dozen or more objectionable words including several s-words, one f-word and a scattering of SOBs.
Profanity: 4 GDs, 3 misuses of Jesus name.
Violence: Played for laughs, the violence is slapstick, such as a man, thinking he is paralyzed, stabbing himself with a sharp knife; there are several car crashes.
Sexual Intercourse: One sexual situation, played for laughs.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: Two supporting characters are gay, much humor is mined from their lifestyle. We see men kiss on two occasions.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: One gesture and lots of sexual dialogue, even some from kids.
Drug Abuse: Several comic drug references. Rickys dad is supposed to be a drug dealer.
Other: There is a long-running gag with Ricky saying grace. Though I hesitate to call it blasphemous, its disrespectful.
Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: Kids, teens, adults, fans of NASCAR

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)