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Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

It doesn’t take much experience to recognize the pitch-perfect lampooning of the modern biography genre on display in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which apes the clichés and conventions of its declared genre in the name of self-aware ridiculousness of the SNL brand. Unfortunately, this re-teaming of the creative minds behind Anchorman runs parallel to the material it mocks for its own good, failing to give Ferrell and company the free range necessary for them to get their improvised comedy kick up to full gear. Instead, it follows the beaten path with but the faintest shades of difference – a few tweaks and a character change, and this could be Ray or Walk the Line. Sure, that’s largely the point, but knowingly subversive imitation doesn’t last forever in the laughs department, and while Ferrell (largely channeling his hilarious George W. Bush impersonation) certainly makes the most of his part (a self-obsessed NASCAR driver whose celebrity and familial status is threatened by the emergence of an up-and-coming French driver), the film seems to forget that his funniest moments are often sporadic and unscripted: Talladega Nights restricts his skills by adhering them to a more stringent script. Some golden moments shine through, however: a frantic scene that slyly combines elements of both Murderball and Young Frankenstein provides possibly the biggest laughs, along with an uproariously sardonic take on the traditional "motivational speech," delivered to perfection by Junebug’s Amy Adams. If the handful of alternate takes provided during the end credits are any indication, this is a case where the blooper reel would be funnier than the actual movie.