On this day in 2006, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby introduced the world to one of the most iconic movie duos — NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) and his best friend and teammate Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly) — and their unforgettable catchphrase, “Shake ‘n’ bake!”
This spoof of the NASCAR world — in which many real drivers and sportscasters made cameo appearances — is just so ridiculous, and so wrong in so many scenes, that you can’t help but give yourself up to Ferrell and Reilly’s often-nonsensical banter and go along for the ride. I mean, how can you NOT laugh at Ricky Bobby’s dinner prayer?
“Dear Lord Baby Jesus, or as our brothers to the south call you, Jesús, we thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Domino’s, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to say thank you for my family, my two beautiful, beautiful, handsome, striking sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, or T.R. as we call him, and of course, my red-hot smoking wife, Carly who is a stone-cold fox.”
Whew. And we can’t forget that Ricky Bobby’s nemesis, the French Formula One driver Jean Girard, was played by none other than Sacha Baron Cohen, who would take the U.S. by storm a few months after Talladega Nights was released with his undercover pranks in the uproarious Borat.
And here’s a cool little trivia tidbit for you: While Talladega Nights was the first time that Ferrell and Reilly appeared together in a film, Reilly actually auditioned for a role in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy a few years prior. While he didn’t get a spot in the Anchorman cast, Ferrell was so impressed with him that he wrote the part of Cal Naughton Jr. with Reilly in mind (and then Reilly did go on to have a small, uncredited role in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues).
So what’s the shake ‘n’ bake team up to now? Sadly, there will be no Talladega Nights sequel. Boooooooo. But director and co-writer Adam McKay did write this hilarious Sports Illustrated piece on what became of Ricky Bobby.
Most recently, Ferrell starred in Downhill and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, and also helped produced Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar. Soon, he’ll appear in the dark comedy series The Shrink Next Door on Apple TV+ opposite Paul Rudd.
As for Reilly, he hasn’t been on the big screen too much lately — he was in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, and the following year reprised his voice role as Ralph in the Disney sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet. But he has been on the small screen recently, including a starring role in the NASA-centric comedy Moonbase 8 on Showtime. What I’m most excited about, however, is that Reilly has been cast as former LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss in Adam McKay’s upcoming TV adaptation of the book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s” by sports writer Jeff Pearlman.
Happy 15th anniversary to the entire Talladega Nights cast and crew!