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December 12, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-12-12

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8 - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'Talladega' bites: Ferrell's streak over

4

By MICHAEL PASSMAN
Daily Arts Writer
In case you haven't noticed, Will Ferrell has
kind of lost it. Not in the Mel Gibson "I'm only
making movies in dead
languages now, sugar tits" FILM:
sort of way, but Ferrell's **# "
streak of can't-miss com-
edies came to an abrupt SPECIAL
end following "Anchor- FEATURES:
man: The Legend of Ron *
Burgandy." Talladega
That's why when trail- Nights: The
ers for "Talladega Nights: Ballad of
The Legend ofRik Ricky Bldofb
Bobby" hit theaters last RiCky Bobby
year, fans of Ferrell's bet- Columbia
ter comedic work were
understandably excited.
The trailer was funny, showing scenes that
promised NASCAR satire and displaying with
a solid supporting cast, including Sacha Baron
Cohen (you might know him as Borat) and
the underrated John C. Reilly ("Magnolia").
It looked like it was on its way to becoming a
surefire hit.
But then it was released in early August of
this year, and, well, it wasn't so great. "Talla-
dega Nights" isn't a bad comedy - it's just not
a good one.
The film follows the story of fictional NAS-
CAR superstar Ricky Bobby (Ferrell), and like
only a sports movie can, navigates through the

ups and downs of his skilled career. At his side
is teammate and best friend Cal Naughton Jr.
(Reilly). Things start to fall apart for Bobby
when Euro-racing sensation Jean Girard
(Cohen) moves to NASCAR and challenges
Bobby. Girard also happens to be gay, which
goes over in NASCAR country, like, um, a gay
person in NASCAR country. Cohen seems
like a natural fit for the role, but like Ferrell's
Ricky Bobby, his character fails to deliver on its
comedic potential.
It seems Ferrell and co-writer/director
NASCAR and Will
Ferrell - too many
parallels to mention.
Adam McKay ("Anchorman") didn't push the
NASCAR lampooning as far as they could have
- a disappointing lack of satire that definitely
hurts the film. But it's really no surprise, con-
sidering it carries NASCAR licensing and has
to appease both blue and red states. In order to
get to NASCAR accessibility and fans' approv-
al, the film couldn't completely attack the cul-
ture.
These concerns aside, the plot itself is cer-
tainly capable of handling an entertaining
comedy, and while the film does have a few

moments here and there, the vast majority of
its funny scenes were given away in the trail-
er. Anyone not living in a vacuum for the past
year will be disappointed with the film in its
entirety.
Those who couldn't get enough of the film
during its theatrical release - or the trailer for
that matter - will find a DVD with a decent
amount of relatively standard special features.
Included are some mock interviews with Cal
and Ricky, a featurette of Will Ferrell's return
to Talladega Superspeedway before the film's
release, some rightfully deleted scenes, a gag
reel and some stock racing footage synchro-
nized todthe lamest heavy-metal Columbia
could find.
The one exception to the otherwise ordinary
feature set is the film's commentary. Instead of
a traditional track that almost no one would lis-
ten to, Ferrell and company instead approach
it as a faux 25-year reunion. It isn't really that
funny when McKay, Ferrell, Reilly and Michael
Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") play aged
versions of themselves, or in McKay's case (he,
apparently, was eaten by a hammerhead shark),
his son; but if nothing else, they deserve credit
for trying something different.
Onthe front of the DVD case, Ricky Bobby
hails "Talladega Nights" as the "BEST MOVIE
EVER MADE."
Unfortunately, this comes from the same
guy who also thought "Highlander" was the
best movie ever made. You may want take that
with a grain of salt.

"Dc
I

on't worry. You're much hotter than Cameron Diaz.
or safe charm, take a
Holiday' with Meyer

By CHRISTINA CHOI
Daily Arts Writer

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The best way to get over a man is
to find another one.
At least
that'swhatLos ***
Angeles film-T
trailer pro- The Holiday
ducer Amanda At the
(Cameron Showcase and
Diaz, "In Her Quality 16
Shoes") and columbia
English writer
Iris (Kate Winslet, "Little Chil-
dren") learn when they find them-
selves heartbroken and alone in the
midst of the holiday season. Des-
perate for a change, they decide to
swap houses via a website in order
to enjoy a man-free vacation in a
foreign country.
The rest is easy to figure out
- love will be found, hearts will be
broken and lovers will eventually be
reunited. But "The Holiday" is able
to reinvigorate this formula with
just enough new characters and
twists to make it enjoyable instead
of repetitive. Within these safe
boundaries, the film becomes sur-
prisingly touching.
Then again, this effect can be
easily overlooked if you're too busy
waiting for the off-kilter side of Jack
Black ("Nacho Libre") to emerge.
While Black deftly plays Miles, a
film composer who eventually falls
for Iris when she's in Los Angeles,
it's hard to separate his onscreen
persona from his everyday reputa-
tion as the wild-eyed frontman of
the band Tenacious D. His larger-
than-life status (along with images
ofaspandex-clad,potbellied Nacho)
precedes his performance, and it's
almost a letdown when it becomes
clear how normal Miles is.
on the other hand, it's a shame
that Amanda doesn't share Miles's
down-to-earth nature. Although
it's supposed to be funny that she's
on the brink of insanity when she
jets off to England, her constant
attempts to cry (which she's been
unable to do since childhood)
makes her seem more like a drama-
queen version of the Tin Man than
someone to be pitied. Thankfully,
all woes are forgotten when she
meets Iris's hunky older brother
Graham (Jude Law, "Closer"). It's

further proof that people don'tneed
therapy - just some good loving.
Being that it is a holiday film,
replacing Tim Allen with Jude
Law gives "The Holiday" a cer-
tain aesthetic advantage over its
competitors. Perhaps because of
Law's former nanny-diddling days,
director and writer Nancy Meyer
("Something's Gotta Give") wisely
chooses to go with a watered-down
version of Law for Graham. He plays
a downright sensitive man who isn't
afraid to profess his love for Aman-
da and cries when she leaves. And if
this wasn't enough, Amanda soon
finds out more facts about his life
that pigeonhole him into the good-
guy mold.
Diaz's so-so performance is no
match for Winslet's lighthearted
Broken heart?
Time to do it all
again,_obviously.
portrayal of Iris. She becomes a
weepy mess when she discoversthat
her ex-boyfriend is now engaged
and her laments, which include a
halfhearted attempt at inhaling
the fumes from her stovetop, pos-
sess just enough comedyto keep her
from looking truly suicidal. And in
a "Love Actually" vein, the fact that
Graham is her brother and Miles
is friends with Amanda's ex lets
everyone become easy chums at the
end.
Despite being a romance, the
most endearing relationship in the
film is the friendship between Iris
and retired screenwriter Arthur
Abbot (Eli Wallach, "A Taste of
Jupiter").
Arthur constantly recalls the
good old days of Hollywood and
inspires Iris to be a leading lady in
loveinsteadofaloserbestfriend. It's
a stock character the aged Wallach
plays well and his scenes have more
heart than a two-week fling ever
could. Accordingly, "The Holiday"
pulls through and even manages to
relay the message that there's more
to happiness that loving another
person - at least at first.

i

4

4

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