Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story


Reviewed by: Daniel Hooper

When at the beginning of a film you hear the line “Dewey Cox needs to think about his entire life before he plays” you know not to take the film completely seriously. Walk Hard is an enjoyable spoof about the rise to fame of Dewey Cox (John C Reilly), a Johnny Cash style character, who begins a career in music after his brother is sliced in two by a machete (more amusing than it sounds). Walk Hard is a story of rock’n’roll success and excess, often poking fun at the myths of rock’n’roll and at the trite rock biopic genre (most obviously at Walk The Line and Ray).

Written by current comedy king Judd Apatow and directed by his Freaks And Geeks collaborator Jake Kasdan (who also co-writes), Walk Hard certainly has strong credentials behind it. While it doesn’t quite reach the side-splitting levels of laughs of, say, Superbad, Walk Hard is consistently humorous and has a nice line in slowly built recurring reference jokes. There are also inspired nods made to other films including Don’t Look Now and Yellow Submarine, and Kasdan manages to successfully evoke the feel of the biopic genre, as well as the period settings.

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Though there may not be a great level of characterisation for anyone except Dewey - it is a spoof after all - Walk Hard does at least have the decency to give the talented supporting cast some good comic character traits, and special mention should go to Jenna Fischer as Dewey’s long suffering love interest Darlene and to Raymond J Barry as his angry father. In the Apatow tradition, there are cameos aplenty and these are a hit and miss bunch. Jack White does an amusingly indecipherable Elvis impersonation and Frankie Muniz really wants you to be believe that he is Buddy Holly, but whoever thought Jack Black could play Paul McCartney was very high, and Superbad’s Jonah Hill really couldn’t be more annoying as Dewey’s dead brother.

All said, this really is Dewey’s show, and Reilly is pitch perfect as the troubled musician. In a rare lead role, Reilly manages to take what could have been a one-note-joke and create a more rounded character. Dewey’s actions might leave him little time for sympathy but Reilly ensures he is always likeable. More impressively, Reilly has an excellent singing voice and performs a lot of the film's music himself.

The soundtrack is important to the success of films about rock'n'roll and Walk Hard delivers a wonderful collection of pastiches that are both amusing and very catchy, travelling across genres of music as diverse as doo-wop, country, rock’n’roll, psychedelia, disco, and hip-hop. As with other biopics, Walk Hard tries to cram five decades of life and music into 90 minutes and, unfortunately, as the film reaches its climax it runs out of steam and is forced into including an outtakes montage in the closing song to remind us of the fun we’ve had with Dewey Cox.

Walk Hard may not appeal to everyone but for those who like their comedies silly (think Baseketball) then it is a good laugh. With fun characters, catchy songs, and a strong joke ratio, Walk Hard will benefit being watched on DVD with friends – it’s a film that practically screams "drinking game".

Reviewed on: 16 May 2008
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Spoof biopic of a rock 'n' roll singer.
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Jennie Kermode *1/2

Director: Jake Kasdan

Writer: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan

Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Raymond J. Barry, Margo Martindale, Kristen Wiig, Chip Hormess.

Year: 2007

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

A Mighty Wind
Walk The Line