• Publication date: April 1, 2011

Meet the Man Who Could Only Count to #1 Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

No One Can Handle The Curves, The Speed, The Heat, Like Ricky Bobby

As a youth Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) was no stranger to adversity. Ricky's father, Reese (Gary Cole) was a hopeless alcoholic with a knack for embarrassing his son. The family's patriarch was not a wicked individual per-se, but merely a man-child innately incapable of responsibility. Marriage and fatherhood were no exception to this rule, and Reese inevitably abandoned Ricky, leaving his mother, Lucy (Jane Lynch) to raise the boy alone. Despite Reese's shortcomings Ricky did inherit a pearl of wisdom from his dad: the oft repeated affirmation that, "If you ain't first, you're last." While undeniably simplistic, this mantra inspired Ricky to become a renowned NASCAR driver, alongside his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly).

As a youth Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) was no stranger to adversity. Ricky's father, Reese (Gary Cole) was a hopeless alcoholic with a knack for embarrassing his son. The family's patriarch was not a wicked individual per-se, but merely a man-child innately incapable of responsibility. Marriage and fatherhood were no exception to this rule, and Reese inevitably abandoned Ricky, leaving his mother, Lucy (Jane Lynch) to raise the boy alone. Despite Reese's shortcomings Ricky did inherit a pearl of wisdom from his dad: the oft repeated affirmation that, "If you ain't first, you're last." While undeniably simplistic, this mantra inspired Ricky to become a renowned NASCAR driver, alongside his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly).

For years Cal and Ricky set records on the racetrack, repeatedly finishing in first and second place. This was not coincidental, as the two had decided early in their careers to perform as a team, relentlessly strategizing against other racers to ensure that one of them placed first. The two friends did this in a binary fashion, repeatedly allowing Ricky to win one week's race and then Cal the next. Both men, at least to some extent, left their redneck pasts behind them. With Ricky's newfound wealth and fame he eventually marries a beautiful, albeit shallow trophy wife: Carley Bobby (Leslie Bibb). Together they have two sons, Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell), whose names are derived from Ricky's favorite television program, Walker Texas Ranger.

All good things must come to an end however, and Ricky is no exception to this rule. When an effeminate Formula One driver named Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) decides to head west and conqueror the world of NASCAR, defeating Ricky becomes his top priority. In almost no time Girard is successful, effortlessly outmaneuvering his opponents while reading Albert Camus' L��tranger from his cockpit. As Ricky's fame and fortune dwindles so does Carley's interest in him, and she quickly dumps the former champ to wed Cal. In the absence of his wife, children, best friend, and career Ricky's morale enters a downward spiral. He leaves his plush mansion and returns to his mother's basement, spending his days behind the wheel of a pizza delivery truck rather than a stockcar. All odds are against the fallen driver with meager beginnings, who must inevitably channel the struggles of his youth to escape an impending adulthood of darkness.

Talladega Nights earned a respectable $162 million at the end of its theatrical run, easily recuperating its hefty $72 million budget. Famed drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jamie McMurray make guest appearances in the film, alongside a slew of recognizable NASCAR on Fox television commentators. The soundtrack features songs by Audioslave, M�tley Cr�e, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Waylon Jennings in addition to many more artists.

Talladega Nights earned both an MTV Movie Award and a Teen Choice Award.

Year: 2006

Duration: 108 minutes

Genre: Action, Comedy, Sport

Starring:

Will Ferrell

John C. Reilly

Leslie Bibb

Sacha Baron Cohen

Michael Clarke Duncan

Amy Adams

Jane Lynch

Gary Cole

Director: Adam McKay

Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, explicit language, drug references, and brief comic violence.