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Ricky Bobby…

Once was a time I absolutely hated Will Ferrell ( mostly, the 90’s when he was on a particularly un-interesting incarnation of the SNL cast ). I cursed the name “Anchorman” when it came out, but a bit over a year ago I was convinced to watch that movie and I absolutely died laughing. From that day my fatwa against Will Ferrell was removed as I recognized the Judd Apatow + Will Ferrell union is holy, good, and riotously funny.

So, last night, we visited the DVD dispensing kiosk at the local grocery store ( stuff it, Blockbuster ) and picked up this movie to end a day hard spend studying. While I didn’t think it was as funny as “Anchorman” it was still hilarious, especially with its loving teasing about The South and Southern Culture. As with all of Apatow’s work, it really hinges on the subtle points.

I was really surprised with how well John C. Reilly acquitted himself comedically. I know he’s a talented dramatic actor, but he really put me in mind to remember his humorous deliveries in “Boogie Nights”.

I was a bit disappointed by Sasha Baron Cohen’s (AKA Borat) performance. As a Brit he surely could have done a better fake ridiculous French accent { although his reading L'Étranger whilst driving was a Gallic ribbing worthy of the script}. Nevertheless as a very European and cosmopolitan foil to the tradition of “love it or leave it, W, and my buckshot rifle” culture associated with NASCAR, it was particularly effective (“Is that a catchphrase or epilepsy?”).

The out-take clips are hilarious as well, as you can see the writers having given the poor actors some absurd lines to have to deliver with a straight face. One of the best lines that stayed in the movie was:

Cal Naughton, Jr.: (During the saying of Grace) I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo T-Shirt because it says I want to be formal, but I’m here to party.

I think that one of the best things any performer can do is to realize that they don’t have to try so bloody hard to be funny. I think Will Ferrell has really brought that into fine focus. From the “I’m very badly burned” Mustafa is Austin Powers to the clip of him impersonating GW Bush, to “Ron Burgundy”, and now “Ricky Bobby”, Will is a brilliant straight-man.

Susan: It’s because it’s what you love, Ricky. It is who you were born to be. And here you sit. Thinking. Well, Ricky Bobby is not a thinker. Ricky Bobby is a driver. He is a doer, and that’s what you need to do. You don’t need to think. You need to drive. You need speed. You need to go out there, and you need to rev your engine. You need to fire it up. You need to grab ahold of that line between speed and chaos, and you need to wrestle it to the ground like a demon cobra. And then, when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it. And you ride it; you ride it like a skeleton horse through the gates of hell, and then you win, Ricky. You WIN! And you don’t win for anybody else. You win for you, you know why? Because a man takes what he wants. He takes it all. And you’re a man, aren’t you? Aren’t you?

Ricky Bobby: Susan, I’ve never heard you talk like that… Are we about to get it on? Because I’m as hard as a diamond in an ice storm right now.

So, Ricky Bobby, you have my approval.

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