Movie Review: Talladega Nights (2006)

Modest effort at NASCAR satire/comedy (5/10)
Original Coffee Coaster review on March 16, 2007

Continuing in review of some of the movies that amazingly did not show up at the Academy—I mean who actually watches movies like The Queen, Letters from Iwo Jima, or The Departed, anyway?—I thought the story of Ricky Bobby warranted an evaluation.

Candidly, I like the way the title sounds!

Was the effort modest… or feeble? Who knows?  But I have to say up front Ferrell movies (e.g. Old School and Anchorman) have the same look and feel of one another.  (The first few Adam Sandler movies are like that, too: basically cookie-cutter juvenile gross-out escapades that contain possibly two genuinely comic scenes among them.)

And gross it does! I’m not sure what Ferrell’s box office is, compared to, say, George Clooney’s movies, but I’ll bet it’s on the order of viewership of professional wrestling compared to girls’ basketball.

Popularity is no reason to hold anything against someone, Ferrell included.  In this movie he teams up with Adam McKay of Ron Burgundy, Anchorman, fame to tell the story of a boy who has racing in his blood and lives to fulfill his father’s motto: “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

The first scene conveys the delivery of young Ricky Bobby.  While his mother is in labor in the back seat, his dad, Reese (Gary Cole), pops the clutch in his Chevelle Super Sport to expel… well I don’t want to spoil it for you.  Qua plot, that’s more or less a high point. Continue reading

Movie Review: Stranger than Fiction (2006)

Creative blend of cinema and literature (8/10)

stranger_than_fictionWalking through the video store, my lady friend and I like to look for slightly offbeat movies that receive critical as well as popular raves.  Stranger than Fiction gets the double whammy: Ebert and Roeper give it two thumbs way up toward the ceiling, then later we find out Rotten Tomatoes has given it like a 75% positive for both critics and ordinary civilians.

I learned my lesson about going only with the critics a few years ago.  We were at the video store during the holidays with her sister and brother-in-law; I picked up Wit, also a movie with a big role for Emma Thomson.  Ol’ Roger had praised it to the rafters for being, well, witty; so I more or less sold everyone on taking it home.  It was the most dreary and depressing movie any of us had ever seen, and my movie- selection privileges were henceforth revoked.

Stranger than Fiction rewards you from the very beginning; you hear the voice of a woman narrator recounting every repetitious step in the life of IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) while you watch his tedious life unfold on the screen.  He rises exactly at xx:yy a.m., brushes his teeth precisely zw times, walks across the street at the cross walk careful to step on the white markings, catches the bus at such and such a time, etc., etc. Continue reading