Shake and bake… some more? Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s NASCAR comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby continued the hot streak of the actor-director pair responsible for Anchorman (2004) and, later, Step-Brothers (2008). It was a one-off for Ferrell, but yet another sports comedy for an actor who managed to find the funny in soccer (Kicking And Screaming), and eventually would dig in to ice skating (Blades of Glory) and ABA basketball (Semi-Pro). We knew it was a hit, but we didn’t know Sony wanted a sequel… or that McKay and Ferrell had an idea of the story they would have told.
Adam McKay called Eyemovies recently to talk about his upcoming comedy The Big Short, an all-star affair that goes after the housing crisis and bank defaults of 2008. It’s intelligent and funny, and is bound to make you very angry. Before that, though, McKay and I spoke about Talladega Nights, which filmed in my hometown of Charlotte, NC (a city McKay holds dear to his heart). He brought up the sequel, which Sony wanted, and shared with me:
We had an idea about [Ricky Bobby], that he goes and drives over in Europe, you know, so it could be like an international, more of an international type movie, American driver going to Formula 1. We kicked it around a little bit."
Ricky Bobby, if you don’t recall, is the most "American" character on Will Ferrell’s resume – besides, I suppose, his caricature of former President George W. Bush. Bobby, a skilled NASCAR driver, wears his patriotism on his sleeve, and he locks horns with a French driver played by Sacha Baron Cohen, in the comedy.
The idea that Sony would want a sequel makes sense. Talladega Nights earned $148 million domestically in 2006, and was Will Ferrell’s second-highest grossing comedy behind Elf (aside from Wedding Crashers, where he had a memorable cameo). The studio no doubt saw the potential of more Ricky Bobby stories, and sending him overseas was the next natural step. But McKay also explained to me why sequels don’t really interest him at the moment:
There are so many original ideas and it’s so much fun to create new worlds. We did it on Anchorman, but like, for a bit at least, we’ll stick with original [movies].
The Big Short is extremely original, particularly in how it breaks down our nation’s financial crisis for a mainstream audience. See it in theaters when it opens on December 11.