Not to take anything away from Anchorman, but the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay feature film collaborations really kick into high gear—so to speak—with 2006’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby. Ferrell does a slightly modified version of his old Saturday Night Live George Bush impression to play a dimwitted, cocky NASCAR driver, who has his confidence rattled when he loses to a Frenchmen (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) and tehn sees his wife leave him for his best friend Cal (John C. Reilly). McKay is one of the few modern comedy directors who pays attention to visual style, which helps sell Talladega Nights’ big, loud racing sequences. But what really makes the movie work is how committed Ferrell is to spoofing (and, in a cockeyed way, paying tribute to) the kind of dangerously blind optimism and patriotism that was in the air in the mid-2000s. Whether he’s sticking a knife in his leg to prove that he’s paralyzed or he’s saying a rambling prayer to the innocent baby Jesus, Ricky Bobby is a recognizably American hero. Talladega Nights is on Encore today at 1:25 p.m. Eastern, and again at 9:15.
January 06, 2015 Cable Pick Of The Day