Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 comedy film, directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell. The film also features John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Amy Adams, Gary Cole, Jane Lynch, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Various Saturday Night Live alumni also make appearances.
Some racetrack scenes were filmed at Talladega Superspeedway. The majority of the film was shot in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, including race track scenes at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte (which doubled for Texas Motor Speedway) and North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.
Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) was born to "go fast." He was born in the back seat of his father's car, and raised solely by his mother, Lucy Bobby (Jane Lynch), while his drug addicted alcoholic father, Reese Bobby (Gary Cole), is absent. At age ten, Reese shows up at Career Day at Ricky's school, but after giving a vulgar speech, he is thrown out of the school. Before leaving, Reese tells Ricky "If you ain't first, you're last". Ricky commits the quote to memory. Many years later, while working on a pit crew as the jackman for a race team, he replaces an uninterested driver and ends up finishing in third place, despite starting mid-race in last place. Ricky quickly soars to the top of NASCAR, achieving fame and fortune at Dennit Racing and meeting his future wife, Carley (Leslie Bibb). He arranges to get his best friend, Cal (John C. Reilly), as the second driver of the team.
Fast forward to several years later; while on top of the racing world, Ricky is challenged by gay French Formula One driver, Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). Girard outperforms Ricky on the track and becomes Dennit Racing's top driver. Ricky, desperate to regain his dominance, pushes himself too hard and ends up in a spectacular wreck, during which he believes that he is on fire. While recovering, he persists in the belief that he is paralyzed. His tests at Rockingham Speedway show that he has lost his touch and he fails to regain a spot on the team. Carley, yearning to be married to a top NASCAR driver, plans a divorce and a marriage to Cal before Ricky gets home that night.
Ricky takes his two sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, and moves back home with his mother. He takes a job as a pizza delivery boy and is reduced to using a bicycle after losing his license (crashing into a customer's shopping cart, then into the sheriff who wrote him the ticket for the previous incident). With his life at its low point, Reese suddenly reenters Ricky's life and tries to teach Ricky to drive by using the fear he experienced. With the retraining and guidance of his father, Ricky regains his confidence, but still refuses to race after Reese walks out. When Ricky runs into his former assistant, Susan (Amy Adams), at a bar, she convinces Ricky to get back into racing at the Talladega 500 and they fall in love. The race ends with all cars being wrecked and Girard and Bobby running on foot to the finish line. Girard then offers to shake hands with Ricky after Ricky beats him, but instead Ricky passionately kisses him. Both drivers are disqualified for violating race procedures and Cal wins the race, having been in third prior to the wrecks. Ricky and Cal repair their friendship and the family, consisting of Ricky, Susan, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Lucy, meet Reese in the parking lot and reunite for a dinner during which they plan to get thrown out of Applebee's.
The film grossed $47,042,215 in its first week, becoming the #1 film at the box office. It is the second-biggest opening weekend ever for an original comedy, after Bruce Almighty, and the biggest opening for a film starring Will Ferrell. As of April 26, 2007, the film has grossed an estimated $162,966,177 worldwide.
The film holds a current rating of 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 66 metarating at Metacritic.
The film has become a cult classic being cited by numerous athletes and musicians. Most recently, Ricky Bobby has become an inspiration for a dance and a hit single by Dallas rap newcomer B-Hamp entitled "Do the Ricky Bobby" in which most of Ricky Bobby's catch phrases are used. The single reached #81 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart and a video was shot in which scenes from the movie are re-enacted by the rapper.
Blu-ray was released on November 17, 2006 and standard DVD and PSP UMD on December 12, 2006. The menu gives the viewer the choice of Super Speedway (with footage of the film used as intros when special features, scene selection, etc. is chosen) or Short Track (without video intros.) The film is presented on standard DVD in four different configurations, giving consumers the choice between either theatrical or unrated versions and anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1 aspect ratio) or pan & scan presentations. As for the audio, each standard DVD carries Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French with optional English and French subtitles. Extras for the standard DVD editions include a retrospective '25 Years Later' commentary track featuring most of the main cast, deleted and extended scenes along with bonus race footage, featurettes, interviews with Ricky, Cal, and Carley, a gag reel, a 'line-o-rama' feature with alternate dialogue from the film, and DVD-ROM content. The unrated disc contains additional deleted scenes ("Cal Calls Ricky" and "What'd You Do Today?"), an interview with Jean and Gregory, and commercials. However, the "Unrated & Uncut" DVD omits two scenes and one part that shows that are present in the theatrical version; the scene where young Ricky steals his mother's station wagon, and the scene which shows what happened to Ricky's pit crew. The scenes are not present in the deleted scenes either.
The Blu-ray release is available on a dual-layer disc with the majority of features presented in high definition including: nine deleted/extended scenes, three interviews, gag reel, line-o-rama, bonus race footage, Ricky & Cal's Commercials (However, Cal is not seen in any of the commercials), Ricky & Cal's PSAs, Walker & Texas Ranger, Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega and a theatrical trailer. There are also three extras not presented in high definition: Daytona 500 Spot, NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup Spot, and Sirius and NASCAR Spot. In terms of technical aspects, this edition carries the unrated cut and presents the film with an anamorphic widescreen transfer at its 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio and includes Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French and an uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio track in English, along with English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, and Thai subtitles.
The first 1 million 60GB and 20GB PlayStation 3 units included a free Blu-ray copy of the film.
In homage to Talladega Nights, NASCAR driver Carl Edwards climbed out of his wrecked automobile after Brad Keselowski turned him around which sent him towards the fence on the final lap, and ran across the finish line at the final lap of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron's 499 to a standing ovation from the crowd. "NASCAR on Fox" play-by-play commentator Mike Joy commented how it was "shades of Ricky Bobby." Edwards was later asked about this on Larry King Live; he responded, "I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan. He did that at the end of Talladega Nights."
On May 6, 2012, Kurt Busch ran a paint scheme very similar to the "Me" scheme used by Ricky Bobby at the end of Talladega Nights during the Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup race at Talladega. Busch had spent the majority of the season with little or no sponsorship after leaving racing powerhouse Penske Racing and joining James Finch's underfunded Phoenix Racing. Busch's girlfriend Patricia Driscoll spent months getting permission from Sony and Will Farrell as well as other trademark and license holders. Busch's real-life fall from grace during the 2011-12 Sprint Cup off-season has been compared to Ricky Bobby's.
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. (2010, April 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:50, April 25, 2010 
- Ryan, Nate (May 5, 2012) "Talladega gets ready for the Ballad of Kurt Busch." USA Today