He first made a splash on television playing a cheerleader. Now, audiences are cheering for him.

Like Dan Akroyd, Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, and Mike Myers before him, Will Ferrell is following in the footsteps of the most successful Saturday Night Live alumni, releasing box-office-topping comedies bound to become lasting favorites. Films like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and his latest—Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby—mix clever sketch-comedy and a generous helping of the absurd, provoking us to laugh at a wide variety of egoists, braggarts, bigots, and fools who are oblivious to their own lunacy. Just as Anchorman traced the fall and rise of a television newsman in the 1970s, Talladega Nights, made with the help of NASCAR, chronicles the fall and rise of a racing champion.

And yet, while Ferrell sends many away holding their sides in laughter, he's causing others—including some Christian film critics—to hold their heads in dismay instead. (One went so far as to call it one of the most "blasphemous, politically correct major movies ever released by a major Hollywood studio.")

But Todd Hertz (Christianity Today Movies) finds it amusing, if somewhat unsatisfying. "Is it funny? Oh yes. While not as funny as Anchorman … Ferrell's over-the-top, no-holds-barred wackiness carries the movie. He again falls back on his trademark Doofus Everyman role, the cartoonish and innocently aloof exaggeration of a real person set in a world of absurdity. The script has some clever moments . … However, the laughs don't add up to much. They don't stick with you, because there's no meaning behind them. Instead, the movie is just 105 minutes of bawdy absurdity for absurdity's sake."

Stephen ...

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