Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

At work we had a discussion about Steve Bartman, the idiot Cubs fan who prevented one of the Cubs players from catching a foul ball that allowed the Florida Marlins to go on and win the National League pennant and eventually the World Series.  The question we tossed around was if you would take a million dollars if it meant everyone in your hometown would despise you forever.  The younger guys said, “Yeah, I’ll take the money and just move to another city!”  Of course, I would not take the money, because some things are not worth a million dollars, like pain and humiliation.  My piece of mind is worth more to me than money.  Besides, the stress and unhappiness of “just moving” isn’t worth a million dollars, either.

OK, say that Madonna wants to marry me, but that the prenuptial agreement I would have to sign won’t allow me to get my hands on the untold millions unless our marriage lasts at least five years.  I also discover that Madonna is an even worse person than I ever imagined – her PR people have been covering up for her for years..  No, I wouldn’t be able to go through with it.  I couldn’t put up with five years of hell with that bitch.  I would be under so much stress that I would constantly be running to the bathroom to puke my guts out, like Karen Carpenter.  If I ever got the money, it would be like paying someone to beat me up, like that crazy guy did in “Dirty Harry.”  The residual misery from dealing with the mess that is Madonna would last the rest of my life, and it just wouldn’t be worth it.

One of the girls at work told me that she sees me walking around town a lot.  Yes, well, I walk the same paths at the same times all the time.  It’s a wonder she never noticed me before.

After I got home, I watched a Japanese movie from 1996 called “Eno nakano bokuno mura.”  The title in English was “Village of Dreams.”  It was about a pair of identical twin brothers, Yukihiko and Seizo Tashima, both artists, who look back on the summer of 1948, when they were eight years old.  They were troublemakers in school and elsewhere, did a lot of fishing, and encountered a mysterious and strange boy named Senji.  Their mother, a teacher, tells them that the Thunder God has not removed their sister’s chin-chin, or penis, because a girl’s body is different.  She recognizes her sons’ artistic talent, and displays their work and sends the pictures away as entries to a contest, even though it leads to grumbling from the locals.

The Tashima family has a father who works for the school board but is frequently away from home.  He has a hot temper, yelling at the twins a lot.  He reminds me of my own father.

Watching a few of the scenes, it seemed that Yukihiko was right-handed and Seizo was right-handed.  I don’t know why I was so intent on determining this.  Maybe it was because of the common superstition that left-handers are possessed by the Devil.  There was one scene where one of the young twins is throwing rocks at some light bulbs with his right hand, and the other twin with his left.  However, there is a very early scene where both young boys are using chopsticks with their right hand, maybe a continuity error.

It was a pretty good film, though I wouldn’t call it fantastic.  The photography was also good, though I wouldn’t call it ravishing or stunning.  I’d rather watch a Kurosawa film that packs a bigger punch.

I also watched “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”  I thought I detected the hand of Judd Apatow, and sure enough, there was a reference to the Beatles worked into one scene, where the gay French driver Jean Girard tells Ricky that The Beatles needed the Rolling Stones, and in a similar way, he needs Ricky.

I’m just going to go through the list of things I found funny or interesting.

When Ricky says grace, he thanks the baby Jesus for the bountiful dinner of Domino’s, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell.  After Ricky’s wife and father-in-law criticize him for referring to Jesus as a baby and not a man, Cal Naughton chimes in with his vision of Jesus: “I like to think of Jesus, like, with giant eagle’s wings and singing lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd, with, like, an angel band, and I’m in the front row getting hammered drunk.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is the perfect music to use for this music, and so is Steve Earle, who is like Bruce Springsteen’s younger, screw-up brother who lives in the South.  The film uses one of Steve Earle’s best songs, “Valentine’s Day,” but not to the greatest effect.  Waylon Jennings’  “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” is another good song for the film.

On a jukebox, they have songs by the Pet Shop Boys and Seal, but they’re only for profiling purposes.  Girard asks Ricky what America has given the world apart from George Bush, Cheerios, and the ThighMaster.  He also informs Ricky that the French land invented democracy, existentialism, and the ménage à trios.  Cal has to concede that those are three pretty good things. Girard listens to an aria from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” while driving in a race – he also reads Camus’ “The Stranger.”  Ricky Bobby wears a Crystal Gayle T-shirt – Crystal Gayle was known for singing “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” and for having hair longer than mine.  Elvis Costello makes an appearance in one scene, but he has no lines of dialogue.

Cal’s confession that he posed for Playgirl was hilarious.  He spread his ass cheeks, and he wasn’t   proud of it.  At his wedding, he hired a Styx cover band and had a nacho fountain.  I wonder if the band played “Lady,” “Babe,” “Come Sail Away,” and “Mr. Roboto.”

Ricky Bobby got a job as a delivery boy for Hugalo’s Pizza.  When he got his North Carolina driver’s license back, the address on it was 1524 Robin Way, West River, NC 82817.  His date of birth was 07/16/71, and the date of issue of the license was 07/16/02, his 31st birthday.  I got all this information by pressing the Pause button on my DVD remote control.

The part where Ricky’s crew tells him about Glenn’s death is hysterically funny.

One of the deleted takes has Lucius saying sometimes dresses up like Donna Summers, and then he breaks into singing “Last Dance.”  Of course, he made the common mistake of referring to Donna SUMMER as Donna SUMMERS.

A very nice version of “Gentle on My Mind” by Lucinda Williams plays over the ending credits. I’ve also heard Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell do this song.

I didn’t think this movie was consistently funny, but what was funny was very funny.  I think that Will Farrell and John C. Reilly can be one of the great movie comedy teams of all time.

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1 Response to Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

  1. Joanie Alford says:

    That was my drivers license, by the way. I was the Marketing Specialist for the N.C. Film Office when the film was shot, and the post-production team needed a current N.C. license to manipulate for Ricky Bobby. I made a hi-res scan of mine and emailed it to them. Shake ‘n Bake!!!

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