April 20, 2008
Review - " Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story " (on DVD) - By Roland Hansen
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Directed by Jake Kasdan
Written by Judd Apatow & Jake Kasdan
Starring: John C Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, & Kristen Wiig
Seeing a comedy with the right audience can make all the difference.
Laughter is contagious. If others are laughing around you, you will likely laugh
longer and harder. Conversely if no one else is laughing you will likely find few
chuckles. While watching movies at home alone on DVD, even if the movie is
funny, you will likely not laugh out loud and almost certainly not a hearty belly
laugh. You may smile or chuckle a bit at some of the good jokes but generally
that is about all. One major exception, for me anyway, is “Walk Hard: The
Dewey Cox Story”. This movie is so hysterically funny that even days later,
while driving my car, I’ll think of some of the bits and burst out laughing. I’m
sure I look like a total loon to the others driving along the highway.
"Walk Hard" is a parody of music bio-pics such as "Walk the line", "Ray" and
"La Bamba". It follows the formula nearly perfectly. The film follows fictitious
rock-star legend Dewey Cox (and yes, there are plenty of dick jokes, but this
is to be expected) through his life in the 50's, 60's, 70's and into today. This is
a parody played hilariously straight. The target of its mockery is so succinct
and sharply pointed (the recent Oscar-winning musical bio-pics "Ray" and
"Walk the Line") that the film's true comedic genius may be lost on people who didn't see those films or thought this would
just be another "Superbad." The film mimics its source materials so spot-on, that it even follows their same rhythms. It
lampoons the musician's life while covering every cliché possible from the temptations of life on the road with drugs and
groupies to bouts in rehab and bitter divorces to long dry periods that suddenly make way for life-altering inspiration.
At the center of "Walk Hard" is John C. Reilly who sings and acts his heart out to hilarious effect. A former Oscar nominee
for "Chicago", Reilly has since cut a niche for himself as the second banana to bigger comedy stars like Will Ferrell and, for
the first time, gets a film to call his own. Tim Meadows is shockingly funny as the friend who ushers in Cox's decent into
drug use (his overly accentuated but still deadpan line deliveries are priceless), while Jenna Fischer (The Office) is lovely
as his duet partner, Darlene, the “June Carter” to Cox's “Johnny Cash”. Watch for cameo’s by Frankie Munez, Jack Black,
Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman and the always funny Apatow regular, Jonah Hill.
The surprise of "Walk Hard" is that although it was written by the guys who made "Superbad" and "Knocked Up", and has
the spoof formula similar to "Scary Movie" and "Epic Movie", this film manages to be quite intelligent, and avoids overly
gross out humor. While it has its share of gross out and slapstick gags, it isn't completely idiotic, while movies such as "Epic
Movie" or "Talladega Nights" tend to be totally moronic. The humor here is very observational, self-parodying, ironic, and
most often hysterical.
The heart of "Walk Hard" is in the music. If you
were to not listen so closely, you might be
fooled into thinking these were actual hit songs
from their respective time periods. Of course,
listening to the lyrics is part of the fun. The
ridiculously silly double-entendres in Cox's
duet with his sweetheart-to-be Darlene are
especially hilarious, and their spoof of a Bob
Dylan song is downright brilliant.
"Walk Hard" is a very entertaining, very funny,
and very witty movie.
There are enough naked breasts that you
won't have to walk out unless you're
specifically looking for Jenna Fischer to assist
in that area.