Home > Film, Music, Reviews > Film Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Film Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007; Directed by Jake Kasdan)

I laughed… hard. An especially rewarding parody of musical biopics for music geeks with a sharp eye, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story hits all the major cliches of the usually sappy genre with force and even wit (although sometimes, admittedly, with excessive broadness and all-American sophomoric crudeness).

John C. Reilly, indispensible indie-film character actor turned short-lived Hollywood dude-comedy lead, wins a lot of laughs right off the bat with his complete lack of matinee-idol looks and his consistently dumbstruck mock-innocence as the titular Cox, an admixture of multiple American musical icons including Ray Charles and Johnny Cash (the then-fresh Oscar-winners Ray and Walk The Line were only the most recent examples of the lampooned genre upon this film’s release, and provide the lion’s share of the satiric fodder here).

Jenna Fischer (of the American version of The Office) is great in her early scenes of trumped-up sexual tension with Reilly’s Cox (referencing the relationship of Cash and June Carter, especially as Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon played it in Walk the Line), but is then reduced to looking good and having nothing to do but play straight and serve the gradual self-actualization process of the male protagonist. This is the common prision of the female leads in Judd Apatow comedies (Bridesmaids being the most obvious exception). The feature comedy king co-writes with director Jake Kasdan, son of ’70s drama auteur Lawrence, and exec produces as welland there’s little doubt that Walk Hard is made in his house style, which at this point either hits your comedy sweet spot or it doesn’t.

The best scenes of Walk Hard, however, are the brief cameos of various famous recognizable types from the comedy film realm playing other famous recognizable types from the music history realm. All of these moments are hilarious, but the appearances by Elvis and the Beatles are the clear high points and will have you on the floor if you’ve spent a bit too much time learning about music history (as I have). Of course, I wouldn’t dream of spoiling them by revealing who plays the rock legends; that’s one trigger warning I choose to respect. Additionally, as usual, the homosocial atmosphere of slapdash semi-improvised fun around such Apatow productions bleeds into the work, and even when it isn’t working, you smile at how hard everyone is trying to make it work. But generally it does work. And it does, indeed, walk hard.

Categories: Film, Music, Reviews
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