JCR Factor #7

Welcome back around to a new edition of the John C. Reilly Factor — Thomas J’s latest character study. If you’re looking for more just like this, be sure to visit the Features menu up top and check out sub-menu, John C. Reilly!

I’ve found another Adam McKay piece to tide you over until I can actually get my hands on another of his more dramatic performances. While I do think Reilly functions very well under McKay’s brand of comedy, the whole point of this feature is to prove the actor’s range across a variety of genres. I once more feel like I’m coming up short on that, but alas here we are. Even still, this may not be much of a surprise, but his Cal Naughton Jr. is a pretty fun one to talk about. Here we go!


John C. Reilly as Cal Naughton Jr. in Adam McKay’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Role Type: Supporting

Genre: Comedy

Character Profile: Who is Cal Naughton Jr, you ask? You mean, aside from being the perennial push-over, the yin to NASCAR legend Ricky Bobby’s yang? Cal’s a thoughtful, caring man, a fierce competitor and loyal shake-and-baker. You see, behind every great racer there stands the second-greatest racer, and Cal has, over many years of having to voluntarily lose to Ricky in fear of destroying their friendship, become comfortable with his lot in life. Yet, despite his fear for crossing Ricky Bobby during a race, there lies dormant within him a desire to be more than a step stool to his race partner. When Ricky goes down in an unfortunate fire-related accident, the moment comes for Naughton to step up and prove to himself more than anyone else what he’s really made of.

If you lose JCR, the film loses: its competitive comedic edge. This film largely works due to the chemistry between Reilly and Ferrell, relying on a kind of competition off the race track wherein the actors try to out-ridiculous one another. It’s pretty obvious why these two want to keep making movies together.

That’s what he said: “I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo tee shirt because it says, like, ‘I want to be formal, but I’m here to party too.'”

Best shake and bake moment: “Hey, I just wanna say to all you other drivers out there, if you smell a delicious, crispy smell after the race, it’s not your tailpipe. It’s a little bit of . . . shake . . . and then bake!”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):


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