' Cinema Romantico: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of (Jean Girard)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of (Jean Girard)

The esteemed film critic Roger Ebert has written of the difficulty in composing a review for a comedic movie. In regards to writing one such review he said, "Faced with a dilemma like this, the experienced critic falls back on a reliable ploy. He gives away some of the best jokes and punch lines." And so I think about heeding this advice for my review of this past summer's send-up of NASCAR culture (actually titled "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby")which stars Will Ferrell as the title character, "the best (driver) there is". I think about relaying the fact it makes the best use of the indelible Pat Benatar song "We Belong" in movie history. I think about advising that the line "You taste of America" made me laugh so hard milk would have come out my nose had I, in fact, been drinking milk. But, of course, none of this means anything if you haven't seen the movie because it's all out of context. Hmmmm........so what do I write about? Oh yes, I can't believe forgot. I'll write about that.

Sascha Baron Cohen.

I have yet to see "Borat" (the incessant hype of it being so amazingly good has kind of kept me away - which is odd as I so incessantly hype anything I like on this very blog, but oh well) though I had planned on seeing it at some point. But I may now have to bump up my timetable. His performance in "Talladega Nights" as the French Formula One driver Jean Girard, Ricky Bobby's main rival, stands well above anything else in the movie. Perhaps this is because I like to claim I'm far more sophisticated than your average NASCAR fan. Or perhaps this is because I secretly yearn to be French. (Who wouldn't? A life of sitting in cafe's, drinking coffee and scribbling in a notebook seems quite appealing.)

But no, it's because Cohen's performance is downright amazing. From the moment he turns up putting smooth jazz on the jukebox in a NASCAR bar, I was rooting for the bad guy. He slips entirely into character and refrains from winking at the audience even once. Everyone gets good lines but he seems to elevate his somehow. He makes his straight moments hysterical by refusing to overplay them. ("Au revoir, Ricky Bobby. Au revoir.") And he lends his character the most brilliant kind of shallow depth when he reveals his true reasons for coming to America.

One could say with "Borat" and all the recent success of Will Ferrell that the two reigning comic geniuses of the industry go head-to-head in this movie. On Cinema Romantico's scorecard, Cohen wins.

1 comment:

Miss B said...

Dude. I'm in Africa, and even I've seen Borat. You gotta do it. ASAP.

Love,

Miss B