You can spoil a movie like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby by saying too much about it, since most of the humor is almost impossible to accurately describe; you either like it or you don't. Fans of Will Ferrell know this brand of comedy well, and they'll find what they're looking for in this movie as Ferrell delivers a solid combination of his stock self-effacing dumbassery and an obvious sense of fun in exploring a new character.
Talladega does seem like it exists in the same universe as Ferrell's last collaboration with director Adam McKay, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, even though Anchorman delivered more in terms of absolute manic hilarity. Where Talladega Nights lacks a vicious street fight between rival news teams, however, it makes up for it with John C. Reilly, a live cougar, and a dead-on satire of the white-trash NASCAR stereotype. A good example of this is Ricky's two young sons bearing the proud names Walker and Texas Ranger, a choice their mother vehemently defends: "If we wanted some wussies, we'd have named 'em Dr. Quinn and Medicine Woman!" The top-flipping, hee-hawing, KFC-is-a-balanced-meal end of the cultural spectrum isn't the only one that gets mocked: Sacha Baron Cohen proves he's capable of evoking laughter without dressing up as Borat or Ali G., as he assumes the role of a gay, French, Formula One driver with an intentionally muddled accent, a Perrier endorsement on his car, and a plan to retire with his husband to Stockholm where they can "design a currency to be used by dogs and cats." Reilly is awesomely funny as Ricky's sidekick Cal, filling the role we might have expected to see David Koechner in, and Gary Cole manages to make you laugh, rather than recoil, even though you can almost smell his dirty wife beater and can of Laughing Clown Malt Liquor. Still, if none of those descriptions sound enticing, this probably just isn't the comedy for you. If you're a fan of the Anchorman/Old School/Zoolander style WillFerrellism, however, Talladega Nights should provide more than adequate entertainment.