Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story review by Tom Blain

When I walked into the theater to see Walk Hard I expected a well written parody of movies like Ray, Walk the Line, The Doors, and other rock music biopics that seem to tell the same damn story just with a change of name and music. I was right on the parody but the well-written assumption was horribly off.

Now-a-days it seems From the makers of 40-Year Old Virgin is attached to every slappy movie from the hilarious Knocked Up to the not so funny Walk Hard. In most cases, this means Judd Apatows name is attached, and in this case he is the first credited writer. Sadly when I watched Dewey Cox, I saw none of the wit, clever slacker dialogue, or fun characters that I had seen in his previous films. Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) is a conglomeration of Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and well you can fill in the blank on just about any other fall from grace rock film you have seen in the past 15 years and probably hit the target. Instead of really having his own endearing personality he is really just a doofusy tool of parody. Its hard to argue that this is the fault of John C. Reilly who really just plays Cox like he does Cal Naughton Jr. in Talladega Nights, because this theme of sharp parody, and nothing less, is persistent in the entire movie.

The writers mission is clear from the first five minutes of the film: Hit the audience over the head with the most clichd moments in music biopics, mock it, repeat, repeat, and then move on to the next one. In the first scene, we see a life changing moment in young Coxs life. He and his Mozart-talented brother run off and partake in a number of dangerous activities that leaves the more loved brother chopped in half with a machete. He will always live in his brothers shadow but, still takes this as his mission to fulfill some sort of prophecy by becoming a successful musician. This is written as if were paint by numbers: "We are going to live forever," (catching and throwing rattle snakes). "Nothing will seperate us," (Playing chicken with a tractor). And then played up to show the kids essentially getting away with murder before the fatal knife fight.

Moving on to the next joke, there is a jump cut to Cox now 14 years old and playing in a high school talent competition (played jokingly by John C. Reilly... thats worth one laugh). His music starts a riot. His parents say he will never amount to anything. He runs off with a 12 year old Kristen Wiig (again ha-ha...) who supports him but then wants him to stay at home and give up his music career. He sweats a little at a night club and then gets his big break on a fortuitous night. And on and on and on

Its not that I mind parody but in a lot of recent cases it goes overboard. What separates Walk Hard from something like Scary Movie, Epic Movie, and Date Movie is very thin. Those differences can probably be summed up by: A) The Wayans brothers B) the using Movie somewhere in the title C) better actors who are unfortunately doing less than what they could normally be doing. Really what is different? In those movies the parody is so rich and jokes so blatant that you can nearly see the writers with both knees on sidewalk begging for any sort of cheap laugh.

My final comment on Walk Hard is more of a question and open to anyone who can give me a good answer: Was this thing put out by The Creators of Knocked Up or Anyone we could find who had done a comedy gig on NBC? Multiple current and past cast members of Saturday Night Live (Chris Parnell, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wiig), The Office (Jenna Fischer, Ed Helms) and 30 Rock (Jack McBrayer) appeared in large and small roles throughout the movie leading me to think that there might be a TV spinoff on NBC. If the writers strike continues it may have to happen since the writing for a spinoff could be done by apes with type-writers. But seriously, arent there a few other actors out there? Did they all have to come from the same pot?

Director/Writer Jake Kasdan and co-writer Jud Apatow put together an underwhelming effort with Walk Hard. Some critics have bashed the Wayans in the past for putting out the same movie, and yet those same critics have fallen in love with Apatow and Reillys past performances (which are admirable), and given them the keys to the city. But not me. Sure there were a few laughs, and I do recognize the opportunity to lampoon the music biopics, but this one is just sloppy for the most part. Im calling it a spade a spade and calling Walk Hard a steamy pile.




3 out of 10 Jackasses
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