Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

4 Stars

The makers of the *insert genre name here* Movie franchise need to take a cue from Judd Apatow and crew on how to make a good parody. When making a parody, you don’t make exaggerated versions of pre-existing characters and exaggerate the situations to sophomoric proportions. You create your own characters, which are exaggerated companions to who they are parodying. And that’s why Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story works.

Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) is the biggest country/rock star to come out of the 50’s, and Walk Hard documents his rise and fall, and then phoenix like re-emergence from the ashes. Cox battles the hazards of fame, drug addiction and multiple wives to become a music legend.

Walk Hard primarily satirizes Johnny Cash’s Walk the Line and Ray Charles’ Ray, but pulls material from all sorts of films to create a larger than life music star who suffers all the cliché trappings of rock superstardom. It serves as a throw back to the Mel Brooks films of the 60’s and 70’s, and the Zucker/Abrams flicks of the 80’s, where it serves as a knowing parody, but never gives a wink and a nod to the audience. The film is presented as a goofy account of a fictional man’s real life. Think Forrest Gump, only written by, well, Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up), the man who’s name is practically required on all comedies if it wants to do well at the box office.

The production would be nothing without Reilly’s (Chicago, Talladega Nights) chops as an actor, singer and as an all around performer. He’s able to play a simple man who makes it big and lives his life in almost ignorant bliss. There’s a sweet charm to his portrayal, and of anyone else in the Apatow cast of characters, I don’t think anyone could have captured the character quite as well as Reilly.

Reilly also has an amazing supporting cast to boost the films comic credentials. Justin Long, Jack Black, Paul Rudd and Jason Schwartzman come together to play The Beatles (George, Paul, John and Ringo, respectively) providing for one of the more hilarious scenes in the movie as Cox is going on a journey of self discovery. Jenna Fischer (The Office) as longtime love interest Darleen Madison provides some good laughs and a good break from the male dominated comedy.

There were times when it felt like they were reaching for jokes, providing us with some groan worthy moments. And certain spots make it feel like an over-blown Saturday Night Live skit, but it then it circles back around and gets funny again.

I’m looking forward to the next Apatow project, and whatever he and his entourage have in store for us.

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