Less a movie than a gag-fest of Will Ferrell dumb-and-dumber skits made whole by NASCAR, the American stock car racing circuit — a perfect venue for parody and anti-intellectual kitsch. Director Adam McKay’s spoof uses a typical rags-to-riches story (loser son Ricky Bobby makes good on absent daddy’s dream) to cattle prod an array of Good Ole’ Boy indulgences and hypocrisies (involving spoiled kids, lousy fathers, big words, gays, trophy brides, boobs, zee French, and so on…) Overkill isn’t a risk, it’s a demand. Which would replace irony with product placement if McKay and Ferrell ever lost a grip on the absurdistan of their making. They don’t.
The insanity recalls songwriter Randy Newman’s early hits “Rednecks” and “Short People,” which annoyed those who read the lyrics straight. Hey, said Newman, it’s satire. To dodge darts and still get in his digs, McKay hides behind NASCAR’s allure and lets the good folk guffaw at Bobby’s World, see tits and cars, and rip-roar at the pseudo-French. But a deadpan Farrell ensures that those laughing first are also laughing last, wittingly or un-. Sacha Baron Cohen as gay French Formula One ace-turned-NASCAR-honcho Jean Girard is an Inspector Clouseau for the 21st century. A nasty-clever piece of work.