TallaDOA Nights: The Ballad of Jaime Pressly

I bit the bullet and saw DOA. To chase it, I saw Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

These are the sorts of movies that you will be punished for trying to take seriously. When you went into the cinema last month to see Talladega Nights, Americans, you’d better not have looked for hard hitting drama!
When you go to the cinema next month to see DOA (it came out here 6 weeks ahead of you: we can see the future), don’t expect any semblance of sense!

Yet DOA is among the most illegitimately entertaining of 2006. Sure, it grossly misrepresents video games, but then almost every video movie (including the best movie ever, Super Mario Bros.) grossly misrepresents its subject matter. Talladega Nights, by being a hotch potch of the unexpected, is exactly what one expects from the people who created it. They hit targets that may not be clear to everyone, but they are there.

DOA is apparently about a tournament called “Dead or Alive” that occurs every year. The movie pretends that it’s about three women (Devon Aoki, Jaime Pressly and Australia’s own Holly Valance) invited to participate, but really it’s about extreme misapplication of logic, physics and common sense. If you ignore the rules of movie making, and the laws of the universe, then you’ve got the audience in your hands!

Imagine this: Devon Aoki, as ninja “princess” Kasumi, throwing a sword 100 metres so that it jams into a wall, jumping across the backs of her retainers, then using the sword as a spring board so that she can jump over her palace wall, off a cliff …
In the air, of course, she removes one layer of her clothing to reveal a device that unfolds into wings! Of course!

That is the opening scene of DOA. Could it possibly be any more awesome? The answer is an emphatic yes! In this movie you’ve got girls in bikinis on roller blades, girls in short skirts performing the splits on walls, and people getting their heads crushed between two feet without a visible mark being made!
You’ve got running away from explosions! Computers with options saying “would you like to disable the self-destruct sequence?” only to be followed by “self destruct sequence is irreversible”, begging the question “why offer that option in the first place?”! Acupuncture and death provided by the same needles!

On top of that, the computer systems had a built in “CIA has been notified” alert. I should get one of those for my computer, to let me know when my top secret world domination plans have been breached!

DOA is highly entertaining, sometimes for all the wrong reasons, but other times because it’s a nice piece of fluff that doesn’t seem too exploitative, and its deus ex machinae are frankly hilarious. Plus I love me some Jaime Pressly.

Talladega Nights was a different film, and got its laughs a lot of the time simply from making no sense whatsoever. You know, the comedy of incongruity, non sequiturs all over the shop. When a film opens with the quote

America is about speed. Nasty, bad ass speed.

and attributes it “Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936”, you know it’s not going to be serious at all.
Highlights included throwaway jokes like Ricky Bobby’s house being haunted, and Jane Lynch as Ricky Bobby’s mother. I loved her in Arrested Development and The 40 Year Old Virgin and she was great, if nigh unrecognisable, here.

One thing that stuck about Talladega Nights was that some of it simply wouldn’t happen: the hero of NASCAR being Jean Girrard, a man who is not just homosexual but French? If we’re speaking stereotypes – and they’re so easy to apply to NASCAR – a gay Frenchman would be one of the most hated figures in America! The IMDB trivia says

When they were at an actual racetrack to get audio clips, director Adam McKay apparently didn’t need to prompt the audience for one scene. When Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Jean Girard was introduced as a driver from France driving the Perrier car, the entire crowd started booing on their own.

This claim may be spurious, because I don’t recall any booing in the film (but then, a lot of the stuff from the ads and trailers wasn’t in the movie), but that is how I would imagine all of these people to react.

Which brings the question of levels: just as there are people who would probably take DOA as a serious action film and come out thinking “wow, man, that was awesome! I wish I had fightin’ sunglasses for fightin’ hot chicks in!”, there are probably people who won’t recognise the satire of prejudice that occurs in Talladega Nights. If you agree with all of the views put forth by the film, if you’re a kneejerk Frenchie hater, maybe Talladega Nights will be your Walk the Line. Leslie Bibb for Best Actress!

“Critic” mode off, “Entertainment” mode on: I enjoyed DOA more than Talladega Nights, simply because it was more ridiculous, but they’re both good stuff. DOA wasn’t a good movie, but it was entertaining; Talladega Nights generally hit the spot.

Thirst for entertainment: sated.

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