Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Not a bad picture but not a great one, Nights generally looked good but it fell short of expectations for a recent flick.
For the most part, sharpness seemed fine, but variations occurred. Some wide shots came across as a bit ill defined. Usually the image remained accurate, but it simply seemed a little off on occasion. Jagged edges and shimmering caused no concerns, but I noticed some light edge enhancement. At least no source flaws cropped up in this clean transfer.
What with the NASCAR vehicles and other varied settings, Nights enjoyed a lot of opportunities for bright colors, and these mostly appeared good. However, at times I thought the tones looked a little pale. Those occurrences occurred often enough to create some minor distractions. Black levels worked fine and seemed deep, while shadow detail also was clear and appropriately dark. The movie always seemed watchable, but it lacked spark and ended up as a “B-“.
While better than usual for a comedy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Talladega Nights seemed more subdued than anticipated for a flick with so much racing. The mix definitely focused on the front channels. Music featured prominently in the film, and the track presented the score and songs with nice, clean stereo. Effects popped up in appropriate and distinct locations and melded together naturally.
Surround usage tended toward general ambience, but a few segments gave us greater activity from the rear. The races occasionally brought out some good movement, but these were less involving than I’d like. Though we got decent car audio from the surrounds, I thought the mix could’ve been more active in that way.
Audio quality appeared fine. Speech came across as natural and concise, and the lines betrayed no flaws like edginess. Effects sounded crisp and detailed. They showed no distortion or other concerns and demonstrated reasonable low-end response when necessary. Music worked best of all. The various bits of songs and score were robust and dynamic, and bass seemed tight and dense. Overall this was an unambitious but satisfactory mix.
As we move to the extras, we start with an audio commentary. from director Adam McKay and “friends”. Actor Ian Roberts accompanies McKay for the entire track, while line producer Scott Kavanaugh joins them around the 45-minute mark. Don’t expect to learn anything about the film’s creation from this piece, as it prefers to take a comedic bent.
That means the participants talk about fictitious elements behind the flick. We learn of its $450 million plus budget, hiring Sean Penn and Donald Sutherland as extras, and many other excesses. The track comes chock full of ludicrous claims and much happy praise for a movie described as one of the greatest ever made.
The commentary gets off to a rocky start, though maybe I felt that way mostly because I anticipated a more straightforward discussion; I wasn’t too excited to get a spoof. I do think the guys needed a few minutes to settle in, though, so the first minutes aren’t particularly interesting. Matters improve from there, however, and quite a few funny bits emerge. I mourn the absence of a factual commentary, but at least this one’s entertaining.
Nine Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 26 minutes, 15 seconds. We find “Going for the Win” (0:41), “I’m Hot” (2:45), “Little Sticker on Windshield” (2:01), “Ricky in Hospital” (5:46), “Gas Money” (0:48), “Jenga Scene (Extended)” (7:15), “What’d You Do Today?” (3:02), “Cal Calls Ricky (TV Room v.1)” (2:20) and “Return to the Garage” (0:37). Most of these are actually pretty good. “Hot” and “Sticker” give us a better look at Carley’s callousness, while “Hospital” provides funny riffs from Cal. “Jenga” also has some great bits from Cal. I don’t think any of these would’ve fit into the final film very well, but they’re fun to watch here.
A Gag Reel runs two minutes, 28 seconds. Though we get a lot of the usual goofs and giggles, plenty of funny improv appears as well, so this clip works better than usual. Line-o-Rama goes for five minutes, 30 seconds. It includes more unused gags. This reel shows lots of short cut snippets, many of which are very amusing.
Even more alternate footage pops up in Walker & Texas Ranger. This presents five minutes, 44 seconds of the movie’s obnoxious kids. I like the other stuff, but this section gets old pretty quickly; there’s only so much abrasiveness from little boys I can take. A fair amount of the material appears elsewhere, anyway.
Two similar features appear next. We find Ricky and Cal’s Commercials (1:38) and Ricky and Cal’s Public Service Announcements (2:38). Both expand on elements in the final film and provide decide entertainment.
Three sections appear under the banner of Interviews. We get “Ricky and Cal” (5:32), “Jean and Gregory” (3:48) and “Cal and Carley” (4:19). Essentially these consist of more improv material as we watch the actors riff with each other. Many funny bits emerge, especially since we see more from Cal; I'd be interested in a Cal spin-off flick.
Will Ferrell Returns to Talladega lasts five minutes, 26 seconds. This shows the actor as he goes to the track to act as grand marshal, chat with the press and interact with fans. We also get some comments from various NASCAR drivers. It’s a watchable piece but not particularly memorable.
Next comes 78 seconds of Bonus Race Footage. As implied, this simply shows more shots of cars. Advertising appears on a NASCAR Page. Here we see clips for a few NASCAR-related elements.
In addition to the movie’s trailer, we find a collection of Previews. This area presents ads for The Pursuit of Happyness, Click, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, The Da Vinci Code, Curse of the Golden Flower, Little Man, An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, Seinfeld Season Seven and upcoming Blu-Ray titles.
Note that the extras on this DVD differ somewhat from those on the theatrical version. Each one has its own audio commentary, but otherwise everything from the theatrical disc repeats here. A few materials are exclusive to this package. Two deleted scenes - “What’d You Do Today?” and “Cal Calls Ricky (TV Room v.1)” – only show up on this disc, and it also boasts the “Jean and Gregory” interview. The extended cut is the only place to find “Walker & Texas Ranger”, “Ricky and Cal’s Commercials” and “Ricky and Cal’s Public Service Announcements”.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby has many good moments, but it doesn’t soar consistently. An unlikable lead character and too many weak gags keep it from living up to its potential. The DVD offers decent picture and audio along with a mix of interesting extras. Although the flick doesn’t excel, it entertains and at least merits a rental.
Should fans go for the theatrical edition of Nights or this extended cut? I’d recommend the latter. The longer version of the film is a little more amusing, and the DVD provides superior extras. Both are good releases, but this one’s just a little better.
To rate this film visit the original review of TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY