So, I realize I’m super late to the party for a first-time watch on this one, but Adam McKay’s “Talladega Nights” is the kind of goofy, inoffensive comedy that you can throw on anytime you want, and it’ll likely deliver each time. As usual, Will Ferrell is a veritable comedic livewire from the get go, and it’s clear that the role was developed with him in mind… which is really good news if, like me, you think he’s hilarious, because it means Ferrell’s pretty much set loose across the movie’s narrative. There’s grade-A support from a supporting cast practically overflowing with talented comedic performers like John C. Reilly and the criminally underrated Gary Cole, but the most effective addition is Sacha Baron Cohen as Ferrell’s main antagonist: Cohen approaches the role with more levity than his usual gonzo improvisational work as a gay Frenchman who casually defies stereotypes, and it’s great to see that the movie doesn’t dwell on it: It’s just there, whether you pick up on it or not, and even if you don’t, it doesn’t take anything away. The rivalry between the two of them is serious enough to drive the plot forward, but it never gets unpleasant nor does it distract from the movie’s main goal, which is to make you laugh as many times as possible. It’s a lot of fun in an undemanding, casual viewing kind of way, and there’s onscreen bonhomie for days.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)