“If you’re not first, you’re last.” That’s the motto Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) learned from his ne’er-do-well father in this parody that lampoons Days of Thunder, sports-movie clichés, a certain brand of American masculinity, and even the notion of American exceptionalism. Those qualities of Rickiy’s are all put to the test by his nemesis, gay French racer Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Ferrell does his spoiled man-child act to maximum effect here, and he’s ably aided by a pit crew of supporting actors that includes John C. Reilly as his obsequious sidekick, the ubiquitous Jane Lynch as his tough-as-nails mom, Gary Cole as his prodigal dad, and Amy Adams as his inspiring love interest. Still, for all the movie’s subversive laughs, there’s a part of it that clearly loves racing and all its excesses. Because hell yeah, that’s why.