Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S funny what star power can do. Stripped bare, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is nothing more than a shameless – and not terribly subtle – parody of recent music biographies Ray and Walk The Line much in the same way that Scary Movie and Epic Movie attempted to take the pee out of horror, fantasy and adventure.
But thanks to a brilliant central performance from John C Reilly, as well as some clever cameos and a couple of hilarious songs, it rises above such limp comparisons to register as a comedy hit more than a miss.
Dewey Cox (John C Reilly) is an American music legend who decides to reflect on his troubled past before accepting an honour at a prestigious awards ceremony. This entails a troubled childhood, during which he had to overcome the death of a sibling, a rocky road to success and the inevitable excess (drink, drugs and debauchery) that comes with celebrity.
Jake Kasdan’s film, which was co-written and produced by Judd (Knocked Up) Apatow, may fall some way short of achieving comedy gold but it does succeed in keeping a smile on the face for most of the time.
Reilly deserves a lot of the credit for this because of the way he throws himself into the role with scant regard for past reputation, whether singing his double entendre laden songs with absolute straight-faced conviction or humiliating himself in the near-nude. It completes a remarkable turn around for the actor of late, who prior to shining alongside Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights was mostly best known for serious supporting roles in films like Magnolia and The Aviator.
Inspired, too, is a laugh-out loud cameo from The Beatles (played by Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman), which sets Dewey on the path to becoming an acid head, as well as a risqué gag involving a penis during a post-orgy sequence.
Unfortunately, such moments don’t occur often enough as there are times when Walk Hard struggles to maintain the momentum or, worse, struggles to rise above Scary Movie material (especially during recurring gags involving the fate of Cox’s brother).
Another failing is that a lot of the jokes become repetitive, as if to underline the point, and merely extend the film’s running time unnecessarily.
But if you’re willing to accept such lapses, Walk Hard still offers a breezy ticket to ride aboard the Apatow comedy bus that’s more pop-lite than rock ‘n’ roll classic. It’ll keep you amused rather than rolling in the aisles.
Running time: 96mins
UK DVD Release Date: May 12, 2008