action, comedy, movie, movie review, sports

January 21st, 2018 Movie – Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

talladega nights

There are always going to be those movies that people will talk about or quote. Sometimes they are more dramatic or serious movies but usually, they tend to be comedies. That is definitely the case with today’s movie, as I know several people that like to quote various lines from this movie. My first introduction to this movie was not in theaters, but at a friends house after it came out on DVD, and was told to come watch it during a group movie night because it’s funnier with our friend Chris laughing at it (and I will admit his laugh is funny in it’s own right). Anyways, I enjoyed the movie and decided to pick up my own copy on DVD so let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby.

The plot: Years ago, Reese Bobby is speeding down the highway while his wife Lucy is going into labor. They pass the hospital because Reese is interested in driving faster and when he stops to turn around, Lucy ends up giving birth to their son, Ricky. 10 years later, Reese shows up at Ricky’s school for career day, making it the first time he has seen Ricky since he was born. After Reese is thrown out of the school, Ricky runs out after him and Reese tells Ricky, “If you aint first, you’re last.” before getting in his car and driving off. In the present day, Ricky Bobby and his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. are working on the pit crew for the Dennit Racing team. While racing in Talladega, the car’s driver leaves the car to use the restroom, claiming they are in last place so it doesn’t matter anyways. Realizing that they will lose their sponsor if they don’t get the car back on the track, the crew chief, Lucius Washington, asks if anyone there wants to drive fast and Ricky volunteers. After getting in the car and driving on the track, Ricky manages to finish in third place, prompting Larry Dennit Sr. to make Ricky Bobby the team’s new driver. With Ricky Bobby becoming Nascar’s hottest new star, the team gets a new sponsor and Ricky convinces Dennit to sponsor a second car, with his friend Cal as the driver. Ricky marries a fan named Carley after she shows him her boobs and they end up having two kids, Walker and Texas Ranger, and live in a large house with Carley’s father Chip. As time passes Larry Dennit Jr ends up taking control of the racing team and has issues with Ricky’s racing style, where he either wins or crashes trying. As Ricky and his friends celebrate their most recent win, they are interrupted by Jean Girard, a French Formula One racer who has just been signed onto the Dennit Racing Team. As Ricky and Girard get into a confrontation, Girard gets Ricky in an armbar and threatens to break his arm unless Ricky says that he loves crepes but even though Cal and his crew make an argument that would allow to save face, Ricky refuses and tells Girard to go ahead and break his arm. The next week at Lowes Motor Speedway, Girard breaks Ricky’s track record during the qualifying, prompting Ricky to tell Lucius to get his car ready to race, despite the fact that his arm is still in a cast. During the race, Ricky manages to catch up to Girard but is unable to pass him. Ricky calls on Cal to help him pass using a drifting/slingshot maneuver but Cal’s engine blows. Ricky eventually wrecks while trying to pass Girard, who wins the race, and as the paramedics tend to him, Ricky starts running around the track in his underwear, thinking he is on fire. At the hospital, Cal and Lucius go to check on Ricky and think he is paralyzed when they see him in a wheelchair but the doctors say he is fine and it is all in his head. As Cal and Lucius try to talks some sense into Ricky, Ricky stabs himself in the leg with a knife to prove he is paralyzed, then screams in pain when he realizes he isn’t. Cal and Lucius want Ricky to take things slow while getting ready to go back on the track but Ricky wan’t to go ahead and get started. However, on his first attempt at driving Ricky only goes 26 miles and hour, and when he gets out of the car, starts acting like he is on fire again and takes his uniform off, prompting Dennit to fire him and have Cal replace him. When Ricky returns home, he finds that Carley, desperate not to become poor, has decided to divorce Ricky and marry Cal, prompting Ricky to end his friendship with Cal. Ricky moves into his mom’s house with his two sons and ends up taking a job as a pizza delivery man but loses his license after hitting a woman’s shopping cart and a police officer so he is forced to use the bus or a bicycle for his deliveries. One day he delivers a pizza to a hotel only to find Reese there, who had ordered the pizza so he could talk to Ricky, but Ricky punches him then walks away. When he talks about the encounter with his mom, Lucy tells Ricky that she told Reese where Ricky was as she knew that he would be able to help Ricky get back into racing. Ricky reluctantly agrees to have Reese help him and Reese proceeds to try to get Ricky to overcome his fear of driving fast, one way involving putting a live cougar in the car and telling Ricky to get in there with it. Meanwhile, Lucy has had enough of Walker and Texas Ranger acting like hooligans and begins trying to reform them. As Reese’s lessons continue, one day he tells Ricky that he placed a kilo of cocaine underneath the car and called the cops, forcing Ricky to choose between driving fast or going to jail. Ricky starts driving with the cops chasing after him and when he realizes that he is going over 100 mph, he starts screaming out in joy as he works to avoid the cops. After getting away from the cops, Ricky goes to remove the cocaine from underneath the car only to learn that it was just Lucky Charms, with a note from Reese asking if it felt good to be going fast again. Ricky gets his license back and keeps the cougar, which he names Karen, and decides that they should have a nice family dinner but Reese causes a scene and gets thrown out of Applebees. When Ricky chases after him and says he started racing and won the races because of him, Reese tells him he was high when he said that and should have picked a better role model to follow. Feeling dejected, Ricky decides to give up racing when he runs into his old assistant Susan, who convinces him to get back into racing as he was meant to drive fast. After she is done talking, Ricky realizes he is attracted to Susan and they end up making out on the table. Ricky gets Lucius and his pit crew back together and shows them the car they have to work with and Lucius says he and the crew will work on getting the engine rebuilt so it can race. Ricky heads over to see Girard to tell him that he is coming for him and Girard wishes him luck, saying he only came to America to race Ricky in the hopes he would beat him so that he could go on to live out his dreams with his husband. The next day, Ricky is shown the new engine, with Lucius telling him that several teams donated some parts, and Susan explains the new paint job on the car, saying that Ricky doesn’t need corporate sponsors as he is out there racing for himself. Before the race starts, Ricky approaches Cal and Carley and apologizes to Cal for not valuing their friendship like he should have, causing Cal to start doubting what he has done. As the race commences, Ricky starts making his way up the pack until he catches up to Girard but he us unable to pass him. Dennit orders Cal to take out Ricky but Cal refuses and instead, gets ahead of Ricky so that he can use the slingshot maneuver to pass Girard. Angered by what Cal did, Dennit orders the driver of the Wonder Bread car to take out Cal, which causes a huge wreck that takes out every car on the field except for Ricky and Girard. Ricky and Girard keep racing and end up crashing into each other during the last lap. After their cars finally stop tumbling, Ricky and Girard get out of their cars and then start running towards the finish line, intent on finishing the race, with Ricky winning the race, but both drivers are disqualified for leaving their cars. Due to being in third place at the time of the crash, Cal is declared the winner and afterwards, he grabs Ricky and they repair their friendship. As Ricky is leaving, Carley approaches him and says she is willing to go back to him but Ricky refuses and says he would rather be with Susan. As Ricky, Susan, Lucy, and the boys leave, they find Reese sitting on his car and when he asks Ricky who he won the race for, Ricky says it wasn’t for him and that he just went out there to drive as he knew his family would love him no matter how he did. Ricky then suggests they go to Applebees so that Reese can get thrown out again and they all get into Reese’s car and head off together.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights’ mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner’s circle.” Wonder Bread, Old Spice, and Perrier were not charged for the product placement in the movie but Wonder Bread and Old Spice did promote the movie through back-end deals. The movie was a box office success, earning $163 million off of a $72.5 million budget.

Every time I watch this movie, I still hear Chris’ laugh, which makes me laugh even more. This is a very funny movie and definitely something that can make you laugh when you need it. The acting was really good, with Will Ferrell (Ricky) and John C. Reilly (Cal) making for a great comedic duo, but everyone was really good in this movie. The story was pretty good, with some serious moments added to the more ridiculous parts to balance out the movie. The humor was a mixture of various styles, with some more adult or risque than others, but I enjoyed the occasional slapstick that was thrown in. A great comedy and one that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review, thriller

September 17th, 2017 Movie – The Skulls

the skulls

Ahh, the turn of the century and a time when you could actually go out on a date to the movies and get some snacks for the cost of one ticket now a days. I know in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I watched a lot of movies in the theaters, honestly more movies than I can remember off hand. I do remember going to see this movie in the theaters down in Savannah on a date with my girlfriend at the time. Even though I bought it on DVD (another Blockbuster purchase), I honestly haven’t watched this movie in years but I do remember liking this movie when I first saw it. Now let’s see if it still holds up as I watch today’s movie, The Skulls.

The plot: Luke McNamara is a local “townie” that is able to attend Yale on scholarships while also working in the cafeteria to help cover the costs. As he tries to figure out how to afford to go to law school, Luke heads to a rowing competition, where he is the captain of the team and has lead them to 3 championships. As they prepare for the race, Luke is unaware that he is being observed by two men, who are considering recruiting him to be in The Skulls. After winning the competition, Luke is celebrating at a bar with his friend/roommate Will, who is also the coxswain of the rowing team, and Chloe, who Luke has feelings towards. Will tries to convince Luke that he should tell Chloe how he feels but Luke says that he can’t, as he feels like he has nothing to offer her since she comes from a wealthy family. As Luke complains about how much all of his tuition is costing and how much he will end up and how the Skulls will supposedly help him pay for all of that if he is selected to join but Will warns him that if it’s secret, it might not always be a good thing as they walk by the Skull’s campus house. As they are eating pizza up in Chloe’s dorm room, Luke receives a phone call asking if he is ready to be reborn and instructing him to another payphone. Luke rushes off, with Will and Chloe trying to figure out where he is going, and after following a series of instructions, Luke drinks a drugged drink and ends up passing out. Luke regains consciousness and finds himself inside a coffin and finds several other people also exiting coffins. Suddenly, two hooded figures welcome the new members to The Skulls and assigns them a test to steal the mascot from a rival secret society. The group head to the society’s building and one kid, Caleb Mandrake, quickly jumps over the moat to reach the door. When he says it is locked, Luke jumps over and manages to pick the lock and the two manage to climb the tower and steal the mascot, a weather vane shaped like a python. When Luke returns to his dorm room the next morning, Will and Chloe start asking him questions about what happened but Luke says he doesn’t want to talk about it. When Will asks him point blank if he is a Skull, Luke tells him he doesn’t know but Will doesn’t believe him. The two start arguing and Chloe tries to get them to calm down but when Caleb calls for Luke, Will gets even more upset that Luke is picking his new friends over his old ones. Chloe leaves as well, looking hurt over Luke’s actions and when Luke talks to Caleb, Caleb tells him to look under his pillow and Luke finds a box containing a Skull medallion. Luke, Caleb, and the other recruits arrive at the Skull’s ritual room and are paired off into “soulmates”, with Luke and Caleb being paired together, and inducted into the Skulls by the Chairman of the order, Judge Litten Mandrake , Caleb’s father. After leaving the room, Luke heads to Chloe’s room to apologize and asks her to dinner but when he finds that he has an additional $20,000 in his bank account, Chloe realizes that he is a Skull but Luke tries to convince her to be happy for him. The next day, Luke, Caleb and the other Skulls are invited to the Skull’s island retreat and Litten introduces Luke to his soulmate, Senator Ames Levritt, who takes a liking to Luke due to their similar backgrounds and hands him a card, saying to call him if he needs anything. Luke then goes to talk with Caleb and comments on the tension between him and his father and Caleb says that Litten is ambitious and wants to be on the Supreme Court and has been trying to pass on that ambition to him but Caleb doesn’t know what he wants yet. After returning from the island, the new Skulls find gifts in the form of new cars waiting for them and they all quickly speed off. The next day, Luke sees Will in between classes and comments on his missing practice and Will tells him he is working on something secret. Elsewhere, Caleb is at boxing practice and when he heads to his car, he finds the window is smashed and someone has stolen his key to the Skull’s building. Caleb goes to find Luke and asks to borrow his key, saying he left his key inside the building, and Luke hands it to him. When Caleb gets to the ritual room, he finds Will in there taking pictures and accuses him of taking his stuff and Will admits to it and goes to hand him his key but says he doesn’t have the rule book on him. Later that night, Luke feels bad about his argument with Will and heads to the newspaper room to apologize only to find Will’s body hanging from one of the beams. The detective in charge of the case, Detective Sparrow, starts to question Luke about Will’s death but is stopped by the University Provost, Martin Lombard, and Luke leaves with Chloe, while Caleb offers his condolences. As movers are packing up Will’s stuff to send back to his home, they uncover a secret drawer in his desk and Luke realizes that Will was doing an article about the Skulls and had Caleb’s book. After the funeral, Chloe tells Luke she knew Will was doing the article but had been asked to keep it a secret and asks Luke if the story got Will killed. Luke tells her he doesn’t know but she can tell that he is not being completely honest and calls him out for lying as she leaves in tears. The next day, Sparrow talks with Luke about the case and tells him that Will had a contusion on the back of his head, indicating something violent happened before he died and that his suicide was possibly staged. At a meeting with the Skulls, the group are brought to a room to reveal their deepest secrets and Luke volunteers himself and Caleb to go first. After they are sealed into the cage and lowered into the well, Luke subtly questions Caleb about what happened to Will but Caleb refuses to answer it. Afterwards, Luke and Caleb are brought to see Litten and Litten forces Caleb to tell him the truth. Caleb explains that he went to the room and found Will taking pictures and after confronting him, they struggled and Will ended up falling and breaking his neck so he called Litten and Litten covered up the accident in order to protect his future as well as the Skulls. Luke isn’t happy about it but Litten offers him a pre-approved acceptance to any law school he wishes in order to keep the secret. Luke gets in touch with Levritt to try and figure out what he should do and Levritt give Luke the idea about checking the security tapes, as everything that happened would be recorded and comments on how the Council is putting everything into getting Litten onto a Federal Bench, as a precursor to the Supreme Court, and it would be a shame to see anything happen that would ruin his chances. Luke goes to see his old high school friends, who he used to commit crimes with, and convinces them to help him in exchange for giving them his car. They find out the tapes are switched out twice a day and try to follow where the man takes them but Luke loses him in the school’s library. When Luke returns to his room, he is attacked by Caleb, who reveals that Luke’s room is bugged, as is Caleb’s and Chloe’s, and begs Luke to stop digging into the matter. Luke goes to see Chloe and apologizes for what he has done and proceeds to tell her everything. Meanwhile, Litten calls the Council and wants to kick Luke out of the Skulls but Levritt votes against the measure until Litten pulls him aside and shows him photos of Levritt with his 19 year old mistress, blackmailing him into voting for the measure. The next day, Chloe yells at Luke in the cafeteria for writing him a letter breaking up with her and tells him to never talk to her again. After she leaves, Caleb, who was sitting behind Luke, tells him it was a good call, as he feels Luke did it to keep Chloe away from him. Luke then heads up to Chloe’s room, revealing it was an act, and after turning up the music and her shower to insure nobody can hear them, he tries to get her to stay clear of any further involvement but she tells him she is involved because she loves him, and the two embrace and kiss. That night, Luke assaults the security guard as he enters a secret room in the library and steals the tape of the ritual room from the night Will was killed. As he leaves, he is chased down by Lombard and another man but his friends, wearing masks to hide their identities, show up and beat them down, then they all escape with Chloe. Heading back to his friends’ place, they watch the tape and see Will fall and Caleb call his dad and tell him what happened. Caleb wants to call the police but Litten apparently tells him to leave the room. As the continue watching the tape, the see that Will was still alive but Lombard and his men enter and after talking with Litten, they kill him and then take the body to stage the suicide. Luke heads to the police to speak with Sparrow only to find that Caleb is there, having told Sparrow that Luke killed Will. Luke hands Sparrow the tape saying that it proves who killed Will but when Sparrow, Luke, and the D.A. watches the tape, they find it is blank and Luke realizes that Sparrow switched the tapes as he is carried off and placed into an ambulance, where he is sedated and transported to a psychiatric institute that is run by a member of the Skulls. Back at the school, Chloe goes to speak with Caleb and ask for his help in getting Luke out of the mental hospital but Caleb refuses to help her and tells her to leave and she does, but tells him that Will was still alive when he left the room. Chloe is assaulted by Lombard and his men but manages to get away from them and runs into Levritt, who takes her to the hospital. They get Luke out of the hospital and Ames tells her to tell Luke there is only one way out of this and to remind Luke that, “they live by the rules and they die by the rules.” As they leave, they are attacked by another car, which forces them off the road, causing them to crash on an unfinished railroad bridge. Lombard goes to shoot Luke but he is killed by Sparrow, who hands Luke his rule book and tells them to leave. At a motel, Luke tries to figure out what Levritt meant and when Chloe tells him about what Levritt told her, he checks the rule book and figures out what Levritt meant. Luke rows over to the island and as Litten is toasting the new Skulls on ending their Period of Revelation, Luke enters the room and challenges Caleb to a duel. Litten wants Luke to be arrested but when he is reminded that the Skulls’ laws supersede the outside laws, he offers to take Caleb’s place, only for Luke to tell him it is forbidden for the Council members to interfere when the matter concerns their kin. As they prepare to face off in the duel, Luke tries to convince Caleb to tell everyone the truth of what happened, refusing to fire on Caleb but Caleb can’t tell them, but also can’t shoot Luke. Litten grabs another pistol and prepares to shoot Luke but he is shot in the shoulder by Caleb. As everyone rushes to tend to Litten, Caleb grabs another pistol and prepares to shoot himself but he is stopped by Luke, he says it is over. Later, Luke is talking with Levritt and tells him that he knows he orchestrated things to play out as they did in order to remove Litten as Chairman. Levritt admits it and tells Luke he looks forward to working with him but Luke says he is leaving the Skulls. When Levritt says they will find him and call on him but Luke ignores him and leaves, prompting Levritt to watch him and say, “Well done son, well done”, as Luke rows back to the mainland and joins up with Chloe, who was waiting for him.

The Skulls was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Skulls is full of nonsense and empty of good script and plot.” The movie is based on conspiracy theories concerning Yale’s Skull & Bones Society and though the school is not mentioned by name, there are several references to Yale throughout the film, primarily them referring to the rowing team as The Bulldogs. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a hit at the box office, earning $50.8 million off of a $15 million budget and would spawn two direct to video sequels.

Yeh, this movie didn’t quite hold up as well as I thought it would. The acting was ok, with Joshua Jackson (Luke) and Leslie Bibb (Chloe) doing a good job in their roles and showing some decent chemistry together. I also liked Craig T. Nelson (Litten) and William Petersen (Levritt) but I thought Paul Walker (Caleb) seemed rather bland. The story was honestly a little weak, with them trying to make a good suspense/thriller but basically threw a bunch of dramatic cliches up against the drawing board and hoping they would stick. The really annoying thing was the hinted familial relationship between Levritt and Luke, as they try and hint that Levritt is Luke’s dad, but waited till the end to drop that dud of a bombshell and did absolutely nothing with it. Honestly, the thing I liked the best about this movie was the soundtrack and while it can sometimes help carry a movie, that is definitely not the case this time. It might be worth watching for some people but this was really a disappointment to me.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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