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Walk Hard:
The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the latest comedy from camp Apatow, is a take off on the rock biography movie that’s been Oscar bait in the last couple of years. Like the movies it parodies, (Walk the Line and Ray), Walk Hard chronicles the life of the hard walking yet incredibly dim southern boy, Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly).

From his humble beginnings as a playful farmboy to his rise as a multi-purpose rock star, Dewey Cox is basically the Forrest Gump of musical biographies, crossing paths with everyone from Buddy Holly to Elvis and even The Beatles.

Walk Hard is not without laughs, and it is a funny movie; however it falls flat in a lot of places. The biggest problem with it is that it can’t decide what sort of movie it wants to be. Its two choices apparently were clever parody and social commentary on the whole music biography movie genre or the wacky, tongue in cheek, suspension of disbelief, sight gag and silly cheeseball movie. Never really deciding how it wanted to lean, Walk Hard just kind of towed the line leaving the movie really indifferent.

At one point, the movie really felt smart, like the filmmakers actually knew what they were doing and saying. I found myself thinking, “This is brilliant, they’re spoofing all those bio pics and it totally works.” Then, that train of thought would be derailed with a sight gag of a person cut in half and their dismembered legs standing next to them.

What kept this movie from being an absolute disaster was the acting. Well, the lead acting at least. Reilly, arguably the only real actor in the bunch (he had an Oscar nom for Chicago), holds the scattershot story together.

It’s truly Reilly’s commitment to the character of Dewey Cox that makes any of the peripheral comedy even remotely funny. If he can’t pull off the innocence of the newly created rock star, then the corruption scenes of him wouldn’t work. If he can’t pull off the aging musician burdened with a life of hard ups and downs, then the wackiness of his trials and tribulations wouldn’t be funny. Reilly brings his “A” game to this movie, and it’s almost the best thing about it.

He’s helped by the super-talented SNL vet Kristen Wiig. She lays it down as Cox’s first wife and she actually adds a little depth to her throwaway role. Personal favorite Jenna Fischer (The Office) plays Cox’s mistress and eventually his second wife. She is fun and sexy, and ultimately works, but is basically just a phoned in performance.

Speaking of phoned in performances, the film is littered with them and at first you think that they might actually be funny. At every smile inducing cameo, you feel as if an even bigger comedic payoff is coming, but it doesn’t. It just feels like what it is, all the Apatow crew filling in for real actors in order to either just be able for all those friends to work together or the hopes that fans of Apatow will giggle at the sight of their fav guys and gals.

Don’t get me wrong, Apatow’s crew is very talented and funny, but perhaps under the direction of Jake Kasdan, he just let them be themselves and didn’t actually try to direct them.

Probably the greatest thing about Walk Hard is the music. You can’t have a parody of a musical biography and not have the goods in the soundtrack department. The Walk Hard soundtrack is not only funny, but it’s good, solid music. I found myself many times, tapping my toe once the music kicked in. The music easily kept me happy during many of the lulls in this movie.

Also, Walk Hard has one of the best end of the credits gags in probably all time. So if you do go to see it, make sure you stay till the end of the credits. You’ll be glad you did.

Overall, Walk Hard is fun, but it misses its chance to truly be great. It could have been a true music bio parody that completely speared the genre, but in the end it ended up merely being a parody of itself.

It’s almost as if there were two children, one being a good, talented and gifted, Walk Hard and a dumb, self important, silly Walk Hard and one of them died. And sadly in this case… the wrong kid died.

Lon Lopez

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