Monday, August 14, 2006

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" -- One of the Best Comedies of All Time? This Blogger Answers in the Affirmative

Happy Monday. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

As ever, I saw some movies this weekend: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and also Little Miss Sunshine. I'll keep it limited to just Talladga Nights tonight 'cause it's late. Hey! Did you know that at AMC theaters, if you go to a pre-noon show on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, your ticket price is only $4? Well, didja? Well, it's true. That's right, nerds, film-school era ticket prices. So, captivated by the siren song of bargain basement ticket prices for a first-run movie, Peggy and I rolled out of bed and drove to the 11:30AM showing of Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Though I loved this movie, I'm not sure I can tell you with any certainty whether this movie was consistently funny throughout. I say that because there is a scene in this movie that made me laugh so hard that my reaction to it threw a monkey wrench into my emotions for the rest of the day -- after that scene, I laughed at pretty much everything else in the movie. Without that scene, I don't know what I would have thought about the movie overall, but it was in there, and I did laugh so hard I nearly died, so I'll say this: Talladega Nights is the funniest movie I've seen in years, and, possibly, ever. But then again, maybe it was just that scene.

Sense of humor's a very subjective thing, so the scene I found so funny in Talladega may not have had the same impact on those of you who've already seen this thing, but because I don't want to ruin any part of the movie by setting expectations so high for those who haven't seen it, I won't say which scene it was that nearly did me in. But I'll say that the scene I'm talking about had me laughing so hard that not only were tears streaming down my face, but I was close to sobbing in the theater, which was a complete first. I guess I was laughing so hard it just threw my emotions all out of whack. I felt kind of violated. When Peggy turned to me after the credits started to roll and said, "I thought I was going to have to take you out of the theater for a minute there," I thought of the scene in question again, laughed, and the tears started right back up. It was almost painful.

On the other hand, here's a quick way to discount my entire opinion on all things comedic: the two other times I've laughed so hard I cried in a theater were:
1) Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls -- the first scene, specifically when Jim Carrey is trying to save the raccoon in the way whacked-out parody of Cliffhanger.
2) Team America: World Police -- the vomiting scene. Something about a puppet projectile vomiting in an alley with a full orchestral score got to me.

Anyway, this scene in Talladega Nights was funnier to me than both of those. Actually, there are some really amazing laughs in this movie that I think will get everyone. In the same way Shammy sets up those pitch-perfect scares, Adam McKay sets up big big laughs. I'd say that, right now, this is right behind V for Vendetta as my favorite movie of the year so far. Maybe after I get a chance to see it again, it might go to number one.

All right. Sleepy time.


JudgeHolden said...




Comment. Just getting it out from under the title. Get to commenting.

blankfist said...




harwell said...

Wow, that's a ringing endorsement there Crane. Would you say that the secret moment in Talladega Nights was House of Dogs funny?

I think I told you that I too produced tears during the vomit scene in Team America. I don't know why that was so funny, but god almighty I thought it was. Gretchen, on the other hand, not so much...Maybe it's a guy thing. Just like Heath's kisses.

Captain Mike said...

That's "Ricky Bobby," Crane. Not "Jimmy Bobby."

And c'mon! You can't just throw it out there that the funniest scene in the history of cinema is in the movie somewhere without giving some little hint as to what that scene is. You don't have to say what's funny about it. Just drop a few hints.

I saw the movie sunday night and was only mildly amused. Strangely, I found myself laughing at weird little moments in the movie that no one else was laughing at. Most of them were lines given to Walker and Texas Ranger. Another was Amy Adams' "Ricky Bobby is a Driver" Speech. The absurd escalation of the knife scene was good, too.

Otherwise... meh.

Much of the supporting cast was wasted (Andy Richter, Molly Shannon, Jane Lynch, David Koechner). I have a hunch that some pretty awesome drinking games will be spawned from the orgy of product placement in the movie. Each player would just pick a brand name and do a shot each time their brand appears on screen - the Wonder Bread and Applebees players will be smashed withing 15 minutes.

I also suspect that the DVD extras will be just as if not more funny that the movie itself. If you haven't checked out the bonus stuff on the Anchorman and 40 Year-Old Virgin dics, you're truly missing out.

JudgeHolden said...

You're right, Mike -- I corrected that -- I don't know why the hell I had Jimmy Bobby on the brain.

But yeah, the two wild kids were killing me. The littler one's 'spider monkey' line made me laugh and laugh. And the escalation of the knife scene killed everyone in the theater, including me.

Well, maybe I should give a hint as to which scene it was that made me laugh so hard -- otherwise it might sail past and you'll be waiting all the way to the end credits for this supposedly hilarious scene. So here's a hint: there's an animal in it.

Also, yeah there's a lot of product placement in the movie, and usually that stuff really grates on me, I thought in this case it was like a running joke on the wall-to-wall advertising world of racing, though I'm sure the people getting product placement didn't care if they were the subject of commentary or not.

Captain Mike said...

Ah, the cougar.

Yeah, that was funny.

blankfist said...

"there's a lot of product placement in the movie, and usually that stuff really grates on me..."

Dude, what is it with you and Paul being so anti-corporate? Silly Dems. With on breath you curse Walmart, but with the next you're cruising through the grocery ailse to pick up a case of delicious Diet Dr. Pepper. Mmmm... Just what the doctor ordered. You poo-poo on McDonalds, but you still seek out the 10-piece McNuggets wtih Barbecue sauce. I'm lovin' it! You can't openly denounce a brand then turn around and support them, that's hypocritical. If you hate them, then go without. That's how you make a statement. They're only here because you support them - we all do.

Silly, silly Dems.

Craig Moorhead said...

The only time I can really remember laughing that uncontrollably without the aid of drugs was when we read through our 'Corporate Killer' script in... Bens' class, was it? I felt like such an ass, laughing so hard at something I'd had a hand in writing, but that scene involving a grown man dressed as Batman to infiltrate a 7-year-old's birthday party, assassinating the kid's dad, then planting a kid dressed as batman for the frame up... I left class that day, walked to my car by myself, laughing out loud. I thought was losing my mind.

Craig Moorhead said...

Arrested Development did that to me, too, once. Just so you know it's not all about me.

JudgeHolden said...

I totally remember that -- it was goddamn hilarious. I also felt like an egomaniac laughing at our own material, but I could not stop myself from laughing. I remember sitting there thinking, "I must look like a complete idiot right now." I think I was the one reading it aloud and I could barely get through it. Good times.

And now for you, Heath. Silly silly dems, you say? Ha! I doubt you like product placement that much either. It's insidious and it exists for one reason -- to advertise a brand subliminally. The less your audience knows they were just pitched to, the better. When money dictates creative choices over artistic choices, we enter a realm of falsity that just moves everyone in the society towards skepticism. For instance -- Armadegeddon. When Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler drive up to the place where they had their notoriously awful animal crackers scene, did Michael Bay use that BMW convertible because it was the car he thought Affleck's character would drive in the film? Or even because it was the car he personally thought was the coolest out there right now? Actually he did it because Disney and Bay both got nice checks from BMW. I know that Bay's always been a whore for his corporate check-writers, and that he's thusly not a great example, but this stuff is pervasive and insidious. Did you know that Universal bought half an episode of Damon Wayan's sitcom "My Wife and Kids" a few years ago to plug the re-release of E.T.? They wanted the whole episode, and the money guys were all for it. Wayans resisted the idea, but the production company really pushed them and the compromise was that half of the show would be a storyline about the daughter wanting to go to E.T., seeing it, and enjoying it, but Damon Wayans would not appear during those scenes. And nowhere during the show, before or after it, was there any mention that part of the show had been a paid advertisement. Was the E.T. re-release such a phenomenon that some sitcom writers had incorporated it into the show? Well, if some average viewers were fooled into thinking that, and then going to see the movie to see what the fuss was all about, Universal would have been just fine with stealing their money. Where does this sort of underhandedness get us? Do we have to wear our "Am I Being Sold Something?" skepticism all the time now, even when the commercials are supposed to be over? And if we do have to be skeptical in places we'd rather not be, is that something we should applaud? I thought that in Talladega Nights, it was less bad because the film was comedically sending up the advertising-saturated world of NASCAR, and it also served the story (and made a joke) to show what name brand fast-food they all ate for their primary sustenance. I think it would have been fine if they'd made fake names for some of those products, but if McKay should decide that product placement is the way to go for all of their movies, (which I doubt) than I wouldn't be supportive of that. In almost all cases (Talladega being an exception) product placement cheapens the content of whatever it's been surreptitiously slipped into.

Anonymous said...

I haven't gone to a fast food resturant (other than say Baja Fresh which is a corporation - but have since stopped) - since I was 18. I haven't had a soda since I was 19.

I try to shop at Independently owned shops (even if the price is higher) and try to eat in as much as I can.

Moreover, Betina and I are extremely careful as to where we spend our money and on which "brands". Moreover, I invest in the Domini Social Equity Fund which does not place money into any firms investing in oil, weapons, cigarette, gaming, etc.. as well as companies that promote terrible practices abroad.

My 401K through my work invests in some of these companies - but even then I opt out for more traditional companies.

I do my duty as a citizen to be aware of different corporate practices and try my best to completely avoid using their products and services.

For example: I never shopped at the GAP when it was discovered they were using sweat shops.

Now - I would love to drive an electric car or just take the bus and metro - but in my current situation I don't have enough money to afford a hybrid or electric car (which Toyota has discontinued manufacturing) and the logistic of my job make it hard to take any public transport (which is my personal fav because most run on natural gas or hybrid energy in LA).

Also, Betina and I have lived without cable before and we just took it back off today. BTW: Betina has lived off "the grid" before in Arcadia, CA.

If enough people did small things like this - I believe it would cause these overbloated corps to take notice. The power of our consumer dollars baby!

Wake up and realize that the corporate structure is the new (and old) tyranny of our age - giving birth to Facism, Nativism and class divisions.

Lets not forget the Media as well...


Speck said...

I was not expecting the movie to be very funny at all based on the horribly cut trailers.

Then, i went to see it the other night and I just could not stop laughing.

And when the brought in Ali G (Sacha Cohen) I was just rolling even more. I can't believe they didn't use him one bit in the marketing of the movie.

The little kids were funny, the cougar was hilarious, When John C. Reilly calls Ferrell about his house being haunted I was cracking up.

I dont know...the movie just turned out to be hilarious.

I also saw Monster House. Which was another movie I thought would be blah...turned out to be astounding.

harwell said...

Just for the record, I remember you and Craig reading your little Batman story in class and laughing uncontrollably...Let's just say I'm glad you two thought it was amusing. Hinesy, Joe Corey, and I had long conversations over a candlelit dinner about how exactly how unfunny it actually was. After dessert and a warm bath, we pretty much decided you guys were idiots.

blankfist said...

Product placement doesn't bother me that much, Crane. Constant advertising is a totally different thing, though. Companies trying to advertise on every flat surface they can find is attrocious. They've expanded from the typical billboards and sides of buses to banner ads and the entire bus is now an advertisement. And trust me, they're always thinking of new ways to A) serve up their brand to you and B) make it as visible as possible. If they could advertise on the very pavement, they would.

Still, product placement doesn't bother me so much. Sure, you tolerate product placements in movies like Talidaga and Waynes World because they do so mockingly, but they're still peddling a brand, and they're still accepting the paycheck, and they most times those advertisements stand out more: think "little, yellow, different" from Waynes World. They're possibly more, uh, insidious as you say, dear ol' Jedi.

But, at the end of the day, these big corporations are both evil and good. We need jobs, and I got to tell you companies like Walmart do more for employment that you might think. Sure, we hear the horror stories of them moving to a small town and killing all the surrouning mom-n-pop businesses. This is true. That's the evil. But, they also create jobs outside of those. For instance, a content provider would pitch a product to them, say, a set top DVD game. If Walmart bites, then the content provider sets everything in motion. They hire on vendors to create the game, to design the packaging, to press the dics. A lot people get paid off these sorts of jobs, and that's the good.

Anyhow, Fedex in Castaway. Eat that. Maybe it would make Crane feel better if they would've just put a fake global delivery company. Yeah, Fedex is real, and to hell with authenticity when there's evil, insidious product placements. Sure, Michael Bay is a douche for having some lowly Navy guy driving a Beamer. But, he's also a douche for making bad films in general. He's just a bad example. As for E.T. during that Wayan show, well, who cares? It's TV - no one cares about TV, do they? So what if the evil coporate conglomerates didn't allow you advance warning before showing you an ad. Boo hoo. Oh no, the integrity of My Wife and Kids has been breached due to ads! Oh no! Whatever, dude. When I see someone drinking a soda in a movie, I'd like it to be Sprite, because people actually drink Sprite. On the other hand, people don't drink from white cans with the word SODA stenciled in black.

blankfist said...

Crane, you're a pussy.

blankfist said...

Still a pussy.

blankfist said...

Let me check again... yep, still a pussy.

blankfist said...

Let me check once more... nope, no longer a pussy.

blankfist said...

Wait... but he still smells like one.