Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 25 min.

Release Date: December 21st, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jake Kasdan Actors: John C. Reilly, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wiig, Craig Robinson, Ed Helms, Jenna Fischer, Chris Parnell, Harold Ramis

 


 

E

ven with the infinite supply of gross-out gags, immature quips, and ridiculous slapstick routines, one gets the feeling that a real man’s tale is unfolding onscreen. A really, really stupid man. However, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” chronicles the life of an overblown caricature with moderate sincerity and parodical scrutiny, detailing his tumultuous rise and fall from stardom to his tempestuous family relationships, creating the kind of abstract realism seen in rockumentaries/mockumentaries like “This Is Spinal Tap.” Unfortunately, the grandiose storytelling is all but smothered by the incredibly crude brand of humor that blankets the entire journey, hoping to substitute truly witty ideas for easy laughs.

Ever since accidentally cutting his brother in half with a machete as a child, Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) has strived to live his life for the both of them – as well as struggling to regain the love of their father. Miraculously learning to sing and play the guitar with no training, Cox overcomes harsh adversity to get his big break, catching the attention of important industry people at an ethnic nightclub. From there, he acquires a record deal, a couple of wives, countless kids, and a stereotypically tragic musician’s lifestyle that finds him in and out of success … and in and out of rehab.

Much of the humor relies on vulgarities, though moments of physical comedy and lyrical laughs do make an appearance, the latter being one of the film’s highlights. The songs Dewey Cox sings are parodies themselves, yet they are both creative and catchy, fueled by humorous and inventive structuring; the clever choruses and memorable tunes will likely stay with audiences longer than the jokes they set up. And the running gags that work best to support the cynical undertones in the picture’s conspicuous social commentary are the ones that reveal truths in a contradictorily positive manner. The funniest example belongs to Cox’s drummer, Sam (Tim Meadows), as he simultaneously convinces and discourages Dewey from experimenting with increasingly more dangerous drugs.

The film’s other admirable comedic contribution is evident in its plethora of cameos, ranging from several members of “The Office” to actor/musician Jack Black to much of the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” Delirious impersonations of the Beatles, complete with a bad cartoon LSD trip, demonstrate the best (and zaniest) of such appearances, while the likes of genuine musicians Jack White, Lyle Lovett, Ghostface Killah, and Eddie Vedder also turn up. But even with a solid ensemble and a few scenes of comedic genius, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” focuses so heavily on burlesque that it shies away from the more humanistic and relatable personalities that writer/producer Judd Apatow introduced with his earlier works. The extreme absurdity pervading much of Cox’s life generates many small laughs, but is unable to land enough big moments to rise above the abundance of raunchy comedy satires already out there. To director Jake Kasdan’s credit, the film does look fantastic (via cinematography, costuming, and editing), provided that audiences don’t turn away from the screen amidst all the tawdry imagery presented in unnecessarily prolonged increments.

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10