Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
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Review Date: April 08, 2008
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan
Producers: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan, Clayton Townsend
John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox
Jenna Fischer as Darlene Madison
Tim Meadows as Sam
When Dewey Cox is a young boy, he accidentally kills his older brother, who seemed to have all of the talent and backing of his father. But Dewey soon discovers that he has a knack for singing and entertaining, and spends the next 50 years or so, playing music, marrying women, siring children, doing tons of drugs and going through what almost every single popular musician in the world seems to go through after their “initial success”. An excellent (and fun) parody flick ensues!
What went wrong with this movie? On paper, everything looked ready to explode, as did two of writer/producer Judd Apatow’s other 2007 comedies (KNOCKED UP and SUPERBAD), but lo and behold, the film was released on Christmas day and went pretty much nowhere after that. I didn’t catch it in theaters, but now that I’ve seen it at home, I’m even more amazed that the film tanked because it’s actually one of the funnier comedies from 2007! This film is a perfect “spoof” of musical biopics, and unlike the morons behind the “modern day spoofs” like EPIC MOVIE and MEET THE SPARTANS, these filmmakers don’t just take a scene from a popular movie and re-create it with D-name actors collecting paychecks, they actually create humor through characters, situations and yes…actual comedy!! My brother and I watched this film together and we were cracking up through the entire first 30 minutes of the movie. I’m not saying that the film is the greatest thing since cock-rings were invented, but if you’ve enjoyed movies based on musicians’ lives before (like RAY and WALK THE LINE), if you are a music fan in general and know about all of the different musical progressions in America over the past 50 years and you also know how to appreciate “stupid humor” (like the Zucker brothers perfected in films like AIRPLANE and NAKED GUN), I’m sure that much of this movie will crack your ass up as well.

The film also moves at a clip, features a thousand different comedic actors taking on small roles or cameos (I counted about 3 actors from “The Office”, at least 3 more from “Saturday Night Live” and a ton of others including Jack Black, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Justin Long…), includes a lot of very funny raunchy R-rated humor and actually manages to spread its laughs nicely across all three acts. Granted, the first act is probably its funniest, but I was actually interested in the movie after that as well, as its spoofing was dead-on; including everything and anything to do with drugs and musicians, all of the fun sex/marriage stuff (and yes, this film is not afraid to show men’s penises on the screen…woo-hoo!) as well as the songs, many of which touched the generational chords of their respective time, while providing some humor in its lyrics to boot. And of course, let’s not forget the great John C. Reilly, who takes a role that could have been played by Will Ferrell in his sleep and truly makes it his own. I really dug on Reilly as a dramatic actor in films like BOOGIE NIGHTS and GANGS OF NEW YORK, but it’s obvious to me now that the man has massive range and can carry a comedy as well. Add to that, the very lovely Jenna Fischer, some great running jokes including Dewey’s dad consistently putting him down throughout the entire movie with only a few words, the “Jewish suit” guys (and yes, that was director Harold Ramis as one of the Hasids), the great Tim Meadows convincing me and anyone else in the audience that pot might actually be “good for you” (!!) and plenty of fun and memorable dialogue – and yeah, what the fuck was Elvis babbling about anyway??

Like most Apatow screenplays, this one doesn’t rely simply on jokes, but also has you caring a little bit about the goofball lead. To that end, major kudos also go out to Reilly for playing his character with such conviction that despite all of the stupidities going on around him at times (a giraffe sticks its head through their house window at one point and he just slips it some food like it was just another day), he always remained grounded as the fiery entertainer with a dark past. Co-writer and director Jake Kasdan also deserves a lot of credit for moving the film along, tossing as many jokes in there as he could (not all of them work to perfection, but I enjoyed the majority of them) and for giving the film a timeless quality. So even though the film might not have done so well in theaters (might have been the release date, might have been the R-rating and the lack of trailers showing off their best jokes, might have been the reliance on “Cox” jokes…), I truly hope that it catches a second life in home theaters, because the film really does deserve to be seen, especially by anyone who digs on musical biopics and certainly anyone who appreciates really goofy and over-the-top humor. “Sometimes I yearn for a man’s gentle touch…and by that I mean a penis in my vagina.”
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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