Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
August 7, 2006

Hey! Does this jacket make me look egocentric?

If you're not first, you're last

Kim Hollis: Talladega Nights opened to a sensational $47 million this weekend, making it by far the most popular Will Ferrell film to date. This is the second biggest comedy opening of all-time behind Bruce Almighty. How did this happen?

Tim Briody: I'm not sure, but I sure could use some Applebees right about now.

Kim Hollis: The answer is that it looked extremely funny. The knife in the leg on its own was gold, but then there was Walker and Texas Ranger, "Save Me, Tom Cruise" and Gary Cole. Gary Cole, people!

David Mumpower: What Will Ferrell understood that a lot of casual onlookers did not is that NASCAR is technically the most popular sport in America, not football. A broad comedy with fiery crashes and unkempt comedians stripped down to their skivvies is going to be popular in America's Heartland.

Reagen Sulewski: Will Ferrell has been primed to explode for awhile. Anchorman was his Wedding Singer, and this built on the video popularity of that and matched it with an easy concept to digest, like The Waterboy.

Tim Briody: Yes, seriously, it was rather funny. I don't think it's going to be as quotable as Anchorman in the long run, but damn if I didn't laugh hard several times.

Dan Krovich: And it had a clear run at the audience that was looking for a comedy.

Kim Hollis: My face hurt from smiling at the end of the movie. I'll agree that I don't think I like it as much I like Anchorman, but I didn't think I liked Anchorman as much as I like Anchorman the day after I saw it.

David Mumpower: Oh, I loved the movie. I am generally not a fan of broad comedy, but this film had me in stitches. The sense of humor on display is much more arcane than you might think, and it really works.

Joel Corcoran: I think Sony Pictures hit the sweet spot of having a sports comedy tossed with a bit of Dumb and Dumber that gently satirized NASCAR fans in a fun, but not cruel, way.

Reagen Sulewski: Not many blockbuster comedies will name check Albert Camus these days.

Kim Hollis: I do think it crosses the line between "laughing at" and "laughing with" at times, but I'm okay with that.

David Mumpower: Anchorman is a movie I thought was disappointing when I walked out of the theater. It has since become one of my favorite comedies of all time. It holds up brilliantly. I also think this is a key to the success of Talladega Nights. The lasting appeal of Anchorman buys Will Ferrell the audience's trust on his next big comedy.

Tim Briody: As someone who still thinks NASCAR is a redneck sport, I would have liked a bit more laughing at, but your opinion may vary. And yes, Anchorman took a couple days to sink in before appreciating its subtle brilliance.

Reagen Sulewski: Let's not overlook the three Oscar nominees in the cast. That had to be a big portion of it, right? Right? *crickets*

Joel Corcoran: I also think it was just a well-done movie overall. The writing was good, the actors hit that crest of good comedy timing and interaction, and the direction flowed really well.

Gary Cole + Tallboy = Gold

Kim Hollis: In all seriousness, I could see myself giving Gary Cole a Best Supporting Actor vote come Calvins time. And that's not just because he went to my alma mater.

David Mumpower: Gary Cole is a comedic actor whose talents are only now being appreciated. He's taken a lot of the knowledge about timing he gained from animated voice work and transferred it to brilliance here.

Kim Hollis: Harvey Birdman - attorney at law!

Reagen Sulewski: He was robbed, just robbed of a nomination for Office Space. Hell, even in the Brady Bunch movies he held the movie together.

Kim Hollis: I always keep him in my heart most fondly as American Gothic's Sheriff Lucas Buck. That's Buck with a B.

David Mumpower: Cole is someone whose body of work speaks for itself as long as people simply take the time to look at his IMDb page. You simply have to marvel at how diverse it is. I could see him being another Billy Bob Thornton, an actor who doesn't attain the acclaim he deserves until his 40s/50s.

Ali G strikes a chord

Tim Briody: Sacha Baron Cohen hilariously extends his range of ethnic stereotypes too.

Kim Hollis: And you know, I was ready to believe I would hate Sacha Baron Cohen, but I'll be damned if I didn't think he was funny as hell here and the Borat trailer is hilarious too.

Reagen Sulewski: Cohen's a guy you laugh at in spite of yourself.

David Mumpower: Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher are poised to be the It Couple of Comedy for the next few years (if they stay together, of course).

If you went to see Talladega Nights on opening day, you might be a redneck

Kim Hollis: Tracking was off by several million on Talladega Nights. To what do you attribute this discrepancy?

Reagen Sulewski: Lots of the audience for this movie still doesn't have phones?

Kim Hollis: I think comedies such as this one - especially when they can appeal as family events - can prove tough to track.

Dan Krovich: I just think it wound up being what people who went to the movies and decided what to see when they got there saw.

David Mumpower: When people were discussing the 2004 Presidential Election, I was relatively confident Bush was going to win again. The reason why was an overlooked but important number: Fox News viewers during the two party conventions. The conservative network's numbers during the Republican Convention was a massive spike. That audience was one that generally didn't get sampled during political polling, but they were lurking out there. Talladega Nights hits this same niche. It's a red states movie, the purest one since The Passion of the Christ.

Tim Briody: And it makes fun of them in a very subtle way that most of them won't realize!

Kim Hollis: I know, Tim. Little things like having Gary Cole drinking the tallboy in every scene are golden.

Dan Krovich: I don't think it was anything that complicated. The marketing was designed to have a really strong push in the final week before opening. The tracking was strong, but just a few days behind as the big promotional push added a few million to the total.

Joel Corcoran: I agree with you, Kim. Talladega Nights was a hard film to pigeon-hole. Variety reported it was tracking well with men and women, and it seems to have the broadest appeal of any comedy this year (so far).

Kim Hollis: Take heed, WB. *This* is the way to market a film.

Tim Briody: The other genius of this movie was being about NASCAR, there's a lot of product placement, and it was used to funny effect. Ricky Bobby being the Wonder Bread driver is comedy gold, right there.

Tim Briody: Jean Girard's sponsor being Perrier is also classic.

David Mumpower: I don't see it as complicated, Dan. This goes back to the notion some people still cling to about 2005's summer box office slump being due to The Passion of the Christ. They simply don't want to count it in 2004, because it blows the curve. As I have said all along, this is the group Hollywood needs to be targeting. It's the money-making group they currently aren't hitting, presumably because this group thinks Hollywood is too out of touch with the plight of the common man. A movie about beer and NASCAR is a sale to this proverbial Johnny Sixpack.

Reagen Sulewski: "The Wonder Bread car is toast."

Dan Krovich: I think the tracking got that group, it's just that it couldn't keep up with the last minute push.

David Mumpower: From low to mid 30s to upper 40s would be a rather impressive last minute push. I love the marketing, but I don't think the final week was -that- good.

Dan Krovich: A lot of people didn't decide it was their "first choice" until Thursday or Friday.

Kim Hollis: Going back to product placement, I cannot believe they put an entire Applebees commercial in the movie.

Tim Briody: I fell out of my chair during that. Brilliant, and hilarious.

Reagen Sulewski: They were probably in the black before they even opened the movie.

David Mumpower: I seriously hope Applebees or the producers reveal how much was spent for that tie-in. I haven't seen whoring like that since One Night in Paris.