Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Posted: December 28, 2007 in Film Reviews
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Walk Hard is one of this year’s funniest films – a great end to a year that had several comedic disappointments.

If you liked the over-the-top characters Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby, who were created for “real-life” exposés in Anchorman and Talladega Nights respectively, you will love the newest addition: Dewey Cox. Or, if you are a Will Ferrell-hater, this is the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy a Judd Apatow flick and see what the hype is about.

There is no doubt Apatow is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after comedy commodities at the moment. Having already been involved in several of the comedic hits of the last three years, including Superbad, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin and the above mentioned films, he currently has four pictures slated for release through Columbia Pictures.When writing the script, Apatow and co-writer/director Jack Kasdan thought of all the life events that seem to be consistent in various rock star documentaries. Thus, Cox is the embodiment of all the rock star lifestyle clichés to the nth degree of hilarity and ridiculousness.

Dewford Randolph Cox (John C. Reilly) grew up in the shadow of a talented older brother. However, when he suffers “a particularly bad case of being cut in half,” Dewey is left to become famous enough for both of them, despite having become “smell-blind.” Through three marriages, numerous stays in rehab and constantly being told “you’re never gonna make it” and “the wrong kid died,” Dewey Cox spans seven decades of music and eventually receives a lifetime achievement award.

Reilly performs all his own music and took part in the song writing process prior to shooting. He previously displayed his musical chops in Chicago and A Prairie Home Companion. The songs are genuinely catchy while being lyrically absurd; as popular music changes each decade, so does Cox’s musical style (as well as his drugs of choice). Beginning at 14 with the teen pop song “Take My Hand,” he is later discovered covering “(Mama) You Got to Love Your Negro Man” in an all-black jazz club, which leads to his topping the charts with “Walk Hard.” His anthology also includes a love song dedicated to his wife, Dylan-esque protest songs, an attempt to create a visionary new sound, and the lilting swan song “Beautiful Ride.” 

As in previous Apatow films, Walk Hard is sprinkled with celebrity cameos. Comedy stars Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman play the Beatles, while Jack White of The White Stripes provides his impersonation of Elvis Presley; even Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder has a part.Nonetheless, it is the talented supporting cast that brings the colourful story to life. Saturday Night Live alumni Tim Meadows is the band’s drummer and Dewey’s drug connection. Fellow SNL alum Kristen Wiig plays Dewey’s young bride, to whom he must explain “It’s unrealistic for you to think I’m gonna be here every time you have a baby,” and Jenna Fischer of The Office portrays Dewey’s true love and backup singer, Darlene. Comedy veteran Harold Ramis also lends his talents as the Jewish record executive L’Chai’m. 

In the end, some important lessons can be learned from the life of Dewey Cox: if you play with machetes, someone is going to get hurt; use birth control; and friends should not be treated as free drug dispensers.

Walk Hard is uproariously funny with an equally entertaining soundtrack. I expected nothing less.

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