Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment Unrated Cut)
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Overall Rating 68%
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Ranked #1,877
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The up-and-down-and-up-again story of musician Dewey Cox, whose songs would change a nation. On his rock 'n roll spiral, Cox sleeps with 411 women, marries three times, has 36 kids, stars in his own 70s TV show, collects friends ranging from Elvis to the Beatles to a chimp, and gets addicted to - and then kicks - every drug known to man; but despite it all, Cox grows into a national icon and eventually earns the love of a good woman - longtime backup singer Darlene. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 27, 2007
There is a foul stench in the air this week. This past weekend, one of the largest launching weekends of the year, a film called "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" got left behind. While the majority of audiences were waiting to see Nicolas Cage chewing up the scenery in "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and Hilary Swank chewing the cinematic cud in "P.S. I Love You", the rest of the world forgot all about "Walk Hard", making it the first Judd Apatow influenced film not to find success at the box office. This is such a shame. It says a lot about the current state of the parody film in Hollywood today. Horrible garbage like "Epic Movie" and "Date Movie" can do just fine at the box office, while legitimate parodies like "Walk Hard" struggle for recognition. Maybe the film was just releasing during the wrong time of the year. Maybe, like "Anchorman", it would have benefited from a Summer release date. Who knows. The fact is that very few people will now get a chance to see "Walk Hard" in theatres and it probably signals the fading out of a genre that has produced so many wonderful films. All of that said, "Walk Hard" is still playing at a theatre near you, so my suggestion is you check it out before it checks out.

Based entirely on "Walk the Line" and other musical biopics, "Walk Hard" tells the story of Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly), who accidentally chops his brother in half with a machete, changing the course of his entire life. Dewey wants to be a famous musician, but his first wife (Kristen Wiig), his sixteen kids and his pet monkey have other things in store for the man. "Walk Hard" follows Dewey throughout the course of his life, as he struggles with fame, fortune, excess and writing his one perfect song. Along the way, he encounters everyone from Elvis (Jack White), The Beatles (Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Jason Schwartzman, Justin Long) and Buddy Holly (Frankie Muniz) to a crazed record producer (John Michael Higgins) and Lyle Lovett (Himself). Dewey eventually falls for a young singer, Darlene Madison (Jenna Fischer), whom he eventually takes as a wife and partner in song. After a bout with addiction and psychosis, Dewey retreats to the solitude of being a family man, raising his many, many children and retiring from music for good. "Walk Hard" turns the man into a legend. Well, since Dewey Cox was already a legend, I guess he turns the legend into a more-legend. The films ends with a performance for Dewey's induction into the Hall of Fame. Like the other songs in the film, it is as original as they come.

Though he only produced and co-wrote the film, Judd Apatow is dripping from every single frame of this picture, and so is his humor. It's been a while since one filmmaker was so distinguishable, probably not since John Hughes. "Walk Hard" is a parody that is more sophisticated than a lot of people give it credit for being. I have heard numerous people talk about how they didn't want to see this film because it looked so ridiculous. And, it is. It's one of the most random and ridiculous films of the year. However, it's randomness is its strength and what results is a film that ends up playing more like "A Mighty Wind" than "The Naked Gun". There are actually some sweet little moments in "Walk Hard", especially the final performance, which is really not a bad country song. Most of the songs in the film, in fact, are well written and well performed by John C. Reilly, who does the only thing you can do with a role like this - commit fully. If there is one downside to the film, it would probably be that there are lulls in the flow of the picture, when we're not getting anything funny nor anything poignant. But, that was a minor gripe. How can you not love a film that features the phrase - "Maybe I should have played catch with you more instead of training my mind and body to cut you down in a machete battle?" Everything involving that machete and his brother are absolute gold and some of the best material in the entire film.

As far as casting is concerned, is there a better choice for Dewey Cox other than John C. Reilly? He takes the role head-on and doesn't relent. This is an actor who has been branching out and doing more and more comedy since he found himself Oscar nominated for "Chicago" in 2002. He keeps on turning heads and changing popular opinion of himself and "Walk Hard" is probably one of his most thorough performances. And he is downright hysterical throughout. Jenna Fischer is equally enjoyable as Darlene, especially towards the end ("You eat that shit, Dewey!") of the film. Tim Meadows provides some nice comic relief during his drug sequences, Kristen Wiig continues her rise to the top of the comedy Super Dome and the 'musical legends' were a nice touch too, especially The Beatles. I also want to single out Raymond J. Barry and Margo Martindale as Pa and Ma Cox, Dewey's parents. For some reason, these two actors made me laugh harder than anyone else in the entire film ("We gonna lite ourselves a candle tonight.") and I wouldn't feel right without mentioning them. The rest of the film is a talented ensemble of comedic actors and they all do their jobs accurately and with timing and precision. The host of Judd Apatow regulars make appearances and they all find their mark. "Walk Hard", however, succeeds because of Reilly.

Anyways, that's the end of that. "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is one hell of a funny film. Is it the funniest film of the year? No. Not quite. Is it one of them? Hell yes. It's a shame that more people aren't going to get to experience it. Of course, maybe that's the way it is destined to be. I mean - many audience members probably have a difficult time watching a two minute scene with a penis standing in the upper right hand corner of the screen the entire time. "Walk Hard" is also one of the latest film to receive a huge marketing push from the internet. Websites have been touting the film for months, with scenes leaking out and deleted scenes. Judd Apatow certainly knows how to build internet buzz behind a film, evident from "Superbad", but it just didn't translate as well with this picture. They can't all be winners. John C. Reilly is nominated for a Golden Globe award for his performance, and he most certainly deserves it. Will he win? Probably not, and that is likely the most recognition this film will obtain. So, enjoy it while it lasts.

Edd #1: Edd - added April 21, 2008 at 3:31pm
"You never paid for drugs even ONCE Dewey".
Mr. Mistoffelees #2: Mr. Mistoffelees - added February 20, 2009 at 10:25pm
I just saw this one recently and I have to say I wasn't all that impressed. I can say that it definitely parodied better than most in our generation, but in terms of how much I laughed, I really didn't find myself even chuckling too often. I thought it was a very intelligent parody, but it seemed better as a nod to the origins of rock and roll than it was as a comedy. Maybe it's just me. Although I will say I liked the jokes about "my guitar softly whimpers" and the Bob Dylan lyrics.
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added March 28, 2010 at 12:15am
Loved this movie. 9/10
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