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ESSAYING "TALLADEGA NIGHTS"

by
in Filmmaking
on Aug 7, 2006


I was up at the Creative Capital retreat this weekend where I saw a lot of great work by the organization’s ’04 and ’05 grantees. But if I was in town I probably would have been, along with $47 million of you, at the opening weekend of Talledega Nights. It reunites the Anchorman team of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, and that’s enough for me.

James Ponsoldt, who directed Off the Black (which I produced and which is coming out December 1 from Think Film) has just launched a MySpace page and he’s already got several blog entries up, including an appreciation of the film. As a way of introducing you to his blog and putting something up here about Talladega Nights, I’m lifting his review in its entirety:

By the time you read this, I’m sure “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” will have made enough money to finance at least 100 indie films. At least that much…if not a lot more.

And billboards for the movie have been up for months, so it seems silly to talk about such a huge, over-publicized, Sony production.

I saw the movie last night, and here’s the deal:

It’s really good.

Being from Georgia, I’m hyper-sensitive to portraits of “middle-America,” but I wasn’t the least bit offended, and while the performances from Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly and Sasha Baron Cohen were all great, and all the supporting actors were strong, here’s what I think were the true secret weapons of the movie:

JANE LYNCH and GARY COLE.

Less than ten years older than Will Ferrell, Lynch and Cole play the parents of Ricky, and they both bring deep reserves of vulnerability, welcome crudity, humor (of course), and real humanity to a mainstream comedy about NASCAR (random note: where I’m from, the accents of folks make it sound something like “Nice-car”). These two actors felt like flawed, loving, REAL parents.

I was surprised how much the sense of loss, regret, and sadness ran through a Hollywood comedy. Much credit is due to Adam McKay and Will Ferrell for creating such a generous, humorous, and humane world.

No, Adam Mckay isn’t Lubitsch or Wilder or Hawks or Edwards…but for lovers of great comedies, don’t let art-film impulses keep you away from this movie.

I was going also say that Adam McKay is no Woody Allen, but then sadly, Woody (who I love) hasn’t made a movie as funny as “Talladega Nights” in decades…

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