Saturday, December 22, 2007

Review: Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story

In 2007, not so much has stood out. It's been a surprisingly uneventful year in culture. But of all the people that have tried to, Judd Apatow has certainly made much more of a name for himself this past year. Though he's been making critically-acclaimed pieces for more than a decade, only recently has his name started to hit the majority of American households-- namely this year, with the releases of Knocked Up, Superbad, and this month, Walk Hard.

Promising to be "the dumbest movie to beg for an Oscar", Walk Hard obviously parodies the award-magnet biopics of the decade, with the most blatant being 2005's Walk the Line. I don't even need to explain the connections to make them clear.

John C. Reilly (Boogie Nights, Chicago, a hell of a lot more) plays the film's title character, Dewey Cox, a farm-boy who goes through an existential crisis after accidentally chopping his prodigal brother in half. He goes on to perform at his school talent show and leaves home at 14 (an age played by Reilly with naive precision) after his saccharine music is perceived as Satanic. He marries and has several children before gaining record company attention by performing at an erotic swing dance club. He then records his opus, "Walk Hard", and is literally an instant sensation. We see him travel through the '50s and into the following eras, where begins to experiment with drugs (usually with the cosmopolitan drummer played by Tim Meadows) and several obvious cultural references: he parodies not only Johnny Cash, but also Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, David Bowie... the list probably goes on. It's exactly what the audience members expect.

But most unexpectedly is the music of the film and the reaction: though all the music is purposely stupid, it's certainly not bad. (My favorites are the punk version of "Walk Hard", the badass "Guilty as Charged", the nonsense Dylan parody "Royal Jelly" and the midget protest anthem "Let Me Hold You (Little Man)") If you listen to Reilly, he's not a bad singer. It's not a serious role at all, but this isn't a man who takes himself too seriously, which is evident in his performance. He really is the only person for the role.

Other standout performances include the whole of Reilly's band, who just provides the movie with a better time. The Office's Jenna Fischer is also exactly as bimbo-y as her June Carter-ripoff character should be. There are several actors whose performances are a bit too hammy, but I'll let you be the judge of who (*ahem*, Jack White, *ahem*).

People should not be going into theaters expecting a message or anything. Once you reach the credits of this film, you can't really even say anything about it. The ending is totally cheesy, but the people who made it knew what they were doing. It's a movie made to not be taken seriously. The best thing I can compare it to is a skilled prostitute: all you should expect is a good time, and nothing more.

If you're unconvinced, watch the first ten minutes for yourself and decide whether or not you think it's worth your money.



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