Making the Grades
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) has been at the top of the NASCAR circuit for a long time, thanks in part to his childhood friend Carl Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly). Working in cahoots, his teammate routinely uses a racing tactic to slingshot the hot shot and his car across the finish line.
But all the wins, wealth and a hot, blonde trophy wife (Leslie Bibb) have gone to Ricky's head. On and off the track, he's anything but humble and the attitude is rubbing off on his two boys, Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell) who habitually bad-mouth their grandparents and other adults.
However, all of Ricky's smugness evaporates when a top-rated French Formula One racer (Sacha Baron Cohen) joins the Dennit racing team. The addition of the accomplished challenger causes plenty of clashes and crashes as the gay European driver and the red necked NASCAR speedster vie for the coveted spot in the winner's circle. When the rest of the racing community turns their attention to the new recruit, Ricky is suddenly swamped with insecurities and fears that drive him to run around the track in his underwear and to stab himself in the leg with a knife. After his abnormal reactions cause the disbanding of his pit crew, he's left to rely on his mom (Jane Lynch) and his delinquent, drug-dealing dad (Gary Cole) for moral support while he finds his way back to the oval.
Over the years, Ferrell has made a name for himself deadpanning his way through a whole inventory of adult eccentrics who seemingly forgot to grow up. In Talladega Nights, he once again plays an overblown character who has a skewed sense of reality and a complete disregard for the people who helped ensure his accomplishments.
Unfortunately on this circuit, the speedway is also littered with more than the mere suggestion of illegal substances. Profanities, crude descriptive names for male anatomy, sexual activities and exaggerated stereotypes of homosexuals, racetrack personnel and alcoholic wives crowd the script along with irreverent comments about religious figures.
Although the film may appeal to the most diehard of Ferrell fans and ardent NASCAR enthusiasts, it won't take long for the audience to discover Ricky is more of a legend in his own mind than he is for the fans at the Talladega racetrack.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Why does Ricky attach so much weight to his father’s comment about winning, even though his dad is absent for most of his life? How do Ricky’s attitudes rub off on his sons?
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