'Talladega Nights' Revs Up Actress Paula Patton

The comedy Talladega Nights hits actress Paula Patton's funny bone. For the NPR series 'Movies I've Seen A Million Times,' Patton tells listeners why she finds herself quoting from the flick on a daily basis.

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Finally, you know those movies you pull out time and time again when you're not sure what to watch? Well, our colleagues at Weekends on All Things Considered have been asking filmmakers and actors about the movies they never get tired of watching. Today, we hear from actress Paula Patton. She's known for her roles in "Precious" and "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol." And she tells us about one of her favorites.


PAULA PATTON: Hi, I'm Paula Patton and I'm an actress. And the movie I've seen a million times is "Talladega Nights," directed by Adam McKay, starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Leslie Bibb, Gary Cole, Sacha Baron Cohen, Molly Shannon, the list goes on and on.


DICK BERGGREN: (as himself) It's a hot one here in Talladega. And this...

PATTON: I first saw "Talladega Nights" when it came out in theaters, for sure, and laughed my butt off.


WILL FERRELL: (as Ricky Bobby) Hey, shake and bake, Cal.

JOHN C. REILLY: (as Cal Naughton, Jr.) Shake and bake.

PATTON: It really spoke to the American dream and yet it made this great commentary on our culture.


BERGGREN: (as himself) Ricky Bobby, today's big winner. Heck of a win.

FERRELL: (as Ricky Bobby) Well, Dick, here's the deal. I'm the best there is, plain and simple. I mean, I wake up in the morning and I piss excellence.

PATTON: I can't tell you how much I use quotes from it in my daily life, all the time. Like, if you're not first, you're last.


GARY COLE: (as Reese Bobby) Always remember, if you ain't first, you're last.

JAKE JOHNSON: (as 5-year-old Ricky Bobby) If you ain't first, you're last.

COLE: (as Reese Bobby) See you when you're grown up.

PATTON: See you when you're all grown up. I don't say that to my child, but I love it.


LORRIE BESS CRUMLEY: (as schoolteacher) Okay, next up is Ricky Bobby. Ricky, is your father here?

LUKE BIGHAM: (as 10-year-old Ricky Bobby) No, ma'am. I ain't seen my daddy in years.

PATTON: "Talladega Nights" is about a young kid whose father leaves him.


BIGHAM: (as 10-year-old Ricky Bobby) But my mama say he's out racing cars and, well, dipping his wick in anything that moves.


PATTON: And somehow this kid from nothing rises to be this great racecar driver.


BERGGREN: (as himself) Ricky Bobby with yet another impressive win. He is dominating NASCAR.

PATTON: And then a Frenchman comes in, named Sacha Baron Cohen.


SACHA BARON COHEN: (as Jean Girard) My name is Jean Girard and I am a racing car driver just like you, except I am from Formula Un.

PATTON: And he rattles Will Ferrell's cage and then he suffers a deep failure.


FERRELL: (as Ricky Bobby) Yup, I'm flying through the air. This is not good.

LESLIE BIBB: (as Carley Bobby) Ricky!

HOUSTON TUMLIN AND GRAYSON RUSSELL: (as Walker Bobby and Texas Ranger Bobby) Cool.


PATTON: And somehow he finds his way back up. He finds the strength. And I think the moral of the story is, it's okay to be second.


FERRELL: (as Ricky Bobby) I just went out there and drove and knew that no matter what happened, my boys, my mama, and my lady would love me.

PATTON: My favorite scene in this movie, it begins with Leslie Bibb's character going...


BIBB: (as Carley Bobby) Supper's ready. Come on, y'all, I've been slaving over this for hours.

PATTON: And then Will Ferrell begins to do his prayer and he goes...


FERRELL: (as Ricky Bobby) Dear Lord baby Jesus, or, as our brothers to the South call you, "hay-zoos" (ph).

PATTON: And he goes into a whole baby Jesus thing. And Leslie Bibb's character says, you know what, I mean, he's a man, Jesus was a man. And he goes, listen...


FERRELL: (as Ricky Bobby) I like the Christmas Jesus best and I'm saying grace. When you say grace, you can say it to grown-up Jesus or teenage Jesus or bearded Jesus or whoever you want.

PATTON: Then John C. Reilly's like, you know, I like to think of my Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt...


REILLY: (as Cal Naughton, Jr.) ...'Cause it says, like, I want to be formal but I'm here to party, too. 'Cause I like to party, so I like my Jesus to party.

PATTON: (laughing) And it's one of the most perfect scenes 'cause it makes you laugh so much. And I say baby Jesus so much now in my own personal life. Thank you, baby Jesus. I could go on forever. I love that movie.


PAT BENATAR: (singing) We belong to the light. We belong to the thunder. We belong to the sound of the words. We've both fallen under.

MARTIN: That was actress Paula Patton telling us about the movie she's seen a million times, "Talladega Nights." And that's our program for today. At TELL ME MORE though, the conversation never ends. You can check out all of our stories on the web at NPR.org/TellMeMore. You can also follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook. The handle is @TellMeMoreNPR. And remember, if you missed our barbershop on Friday, you can find the podcast in the iTunes Store or at NPR.org. I'm Michel Martin and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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