Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Number One Movie in America Just Got Even Better

Curiosity (or should I say "Tom Cruise-iosity" -- not to be confused with "Suriosity") got the better of me this weekend, and I joined the huddled masses of America in an afternoon screening of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. After all of the controversy surrounding the "Help me, Tom Cruise" line's excision from the movie's TV ad campaign, I had to see for myself whether or not the line actually made it into the final cut. I am pleased to report that, yes indeed, the line remains intact in all its tighty whitey-clad glory. Perhaps the bitter disappointment that was the opening box office gross for MI:3 has finally tarnished the clout of everyone's favorite couch-jumping jackass. But after viewing the scene in its entirety, one question remains . . . what about this scene is more damning to Tom Cruise: Ricky Bobby's implications that Cruise's non-existant Scientology-derived Super Powers could somehow magically douse the flames that lick at his soul, or the fact that the scene depicts a man clad in nothing more than a pair of Fruit of the Looms and a racing helmet running around screaming his name in desperation?

As for the rest of the movie, it was a rather pleasant surprise. After reading a plethora of bad reviews (including one review whose author obviously has no understanding of the comedic beauty of the non-sequiter, proclaiming that the scene involving the absurdly-millineried Mos Def and Elvis Costello "went nowhere") I was expecting a few laughs punctuated by lengthy stretches of tediously shot race sequences. Instead, I found it to contain quite a few laughs punctuated by lengthy stretches of tediously shot race sequences which the laughs made up for. Sacha Baron Cohen's performance as the cartoonishly gay French racer Jean Girard easily stole the show, while John C. Reilly's efforts to increase his already natural vocal resemblence to Barney Gumble proved to be one of the film's biggest assets.

As cultural commentary, Talladega Nights can be devastatingly subtle in places, pressing buttons to manipulate certain segments of the audience at different times for different reasons. In a sequence reminiscent of The Muppet Show's ability to provide solid entertainment for children while slyly slipping in references that appeal to adults, Ricky Bobby is seen celebrating a victory by raising his fists to the sky in slow motion while an American flag is super-imposed over the frame (obviously a treat for the NASCAR fans), immediately followed by both a gay kiss between the film's main rival characters and a Halliburton reference (obviously meant to tickle the funny bones of the non-NASCAR fans). That the movie is able to appeal to both sensibilities without being mean-spirited is a welcome achievement.

But really, it's the Jesus and KFC jokes that make it all worthwhile.


Blogger Crispinus said...

"Daddah, yew made thet grace yer beeitch!"

Best. Line. Ever,

12:55 PM  

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