Last night, Mrs. Bartender and I went to see Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby. I was looking forward to the film as a number of reviews were positive (although certainly not all of them). But the film was surprisingly unexciting. As with many of Ferrell's movies, it played like a series of SNL skits, but ones that just were not so funny. Will Ferrell plays Will Ferrell--this time George W. Bush as race car driver, and the plot, such as it exists, is pure boilerplate. Most troubling, it had too few laugh out loud moments, something one expects and needs from a movie like this. (A few of the funniest ("Help me, Tom Cruise") I had already seen in the trailer, something that occurs far too often.) Now perhaps this movie will get better when one watches it over and over on cable. Anchorman, for example, becomes much better on repeat viewings although I enjoyed it the first time I saw it. But I can't recommend this film.
That is not to say there is nothing to enjoy. The biggest plus is the amazingly talented Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G) playing the gay, French Formula 1 driver Jean Girard who is Ricky Bobby's rival. The advance buzz on his Borat movie is that it is hysterical, and the website certainly is.
Finally, Mrs. Bartender made an astute observation. According to the White House, the President read Camus' The Stranger while on vacation in Crawford. Leaving aside the fact that it is a great book (and not that difficult a read), I among others was skeptical. However, in the movie Jean Girard is reading the novel, leading her to conclude that perhaps Bush saw Talladega Nights, and because a character in it was reading the novel, he determined that he too had read it. That seems to make more sense than Bush actually reading Camus.