Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay have discovered the key to successful comedy filmmaking: the most important tasks are those undertaken before the camera is ever turned on. Write a solid script and put together an ensemble of actors skilled in the art of improvisation (as the duo did previously with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), and chances are good that the end product will bring the laughs, as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby does in spades. Though at first glance it may seem like a formula concocted by a studio marketing exec (Will Ferrell + NASCAR = $100 million), Talladega Nights is a worthy successor to Anchorman.
The plot, such as it matters, involves Ferrell as star NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, a dim but loveable good old boy whose racing dominance is unchallenged until flamboyant French Formula One racer Jean Girard (pre-Borat Sacha Baron Cohen) enters the sport. With the help of best buddy Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly), Bobby battles Girard in an epic quest for NASCAR supremacy.
Talladega Nights is not without its flaws; there are definite lulls in pacing and not every joke hits the mark. But the movie is consistently funny throughout and the cast is top-notch. Perhaps there will come a day when the “Will Ferrell as (insert funny occupation here)” comedies will grow tiresome. Thankfully, that day has yet to arrive.
What's on the disc:
Movies like this are the reason the DVD format was invented. Like Anchorman, Talladega Nights is a comedy that relies heavily on improvisation, and with so many talented performers, there are literally hours of quality footage that don't make the final cut. (While promoting the theatrical release, McKay remarked that he had approximately seven hours of cut material.)
In addition to 13 minutes of extra footage integrated into the film, there are ample deleted scenes and alternate takes.
Audio Commentary with Adam McKay and Ian Roberts: McKay and Roberts provide a completely tongue-in-cheek commentary track, with nary a true anecdote to be found. It's one of the funnier commentaries I've heard, but I still wish they could have gotten something from Ferrell.
Deleted and Extended Scenes: Nine scenes in all.
Line-O-Rama: Alternate lines not used in the film.
Walker & Texas Ranger: A montage of outtakes featuring Ricky Bobby's obnoxious sons.
Ricky and Cal's Commercials
Ricky and Cal's Public Service Announcements
Three interviews with characters: Ricky and Cal; Jean Girard and his partner, Gregory; Cal and Carley
Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega: a short featurette chronicling Ferrell's stint as the race's Grand Marshall.
Bonus Race Footage