Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story full movie review - Flawlessly Funny Farce About Music Bio-Pics With Terrific Songs!
You'll laugh so much watching "Orange County" director Jake Kasdan's comedy "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" that you might have to change your drawers.
Kasdan penned this impudent, politically incorrect spoof with "Knocked-Up" & "Superbad" scribe Judd Apatow that mercilessly lampoons last year's poignant Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon biography "Walk the Line" of superstar pop singer Johnny Cash. Unlike so many recent spoofs, such as "Date Movie" and "Epic Movie," "Walk Hard" contents itself strictly with shredding one movie rather than an entire year's worth. Surprisingly, however, Kasdan and Apatow not only manage to make the resemblance clear between "Walk Hard" and "Walk the Line" unmistakable, but also these two fertile minds drag in other superstar singers both dead and alive for added texture. The sheer brilliance of "Walk Hard" is how perfectly Kasdan and Apatow ridicule the conventions of the famous singer musical biography. Again, unlike second-rate spoofs that the wring only the most superficial jokes out of the hero's predicament, this parody goes deeper with its devotion to detail. "Walk Hard" takes us on a nostalgic journey through the rebellious 1950s to the psych-out 1960s, skewering musical genres like soul music, bubble-gun music, rock music, punk music, surfing music, and social protest music. The film charts its passage of time with repeated encounters between the hero and his band's drummer in a toilet abusing illicit narcotics with warm, willing, and wanton women. Moreover, Kasdan and Apatow transcend their satiric origins and forge characters that genuinely interest us for their own foibles rather than the synthesis of stereotypes that we've come to recognize over the years. For example, protagonist Dewey Cox brings to mind a number of famous singers, among them Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, and Bob Dylan.
"Walk Hard" provides songs that mimic those Cash, Orbison, and Dylan classics, and the performers here deliver reasonably convincing renditions. Indeed, some of the humor, particularly the inclusion of lower frontal male nudity, may offend some unsuspecting moviegoers. Kasdan doesn't try to sneak a shot of male genitals past when you might not be looking. He displays male genitalia twice and draws attention to it without fear. Few mainstream American film releases have been this daring in this respect. Typically, only European imports have these largely taboo shots.
Talented John C. Reilly of "Boogie Nights" does a superb job as curly-headed Dewey Cox, the youngest son of a rural Springberry, Alabama, farmer with one older son and a younger daughter, who attains fame and fortune. "Blades of Glory" actress Jenna Fischer as Darlene plays the equivalent of Reese Witherspoon's June Carter Cash and she is delightful. Darlene and Dewey sing a hilarious duet on stage filled with double-entrendes entitled "Let's Duet." Like "Walk the Line," "Walk Hard" opens at a modern-day concert tribute to the hero and the stage manager is rushing breathlessly around trying to find Dewey Cox. Eventually, he discovers him in a dark hallway, his guitar slung over his back, his head bowed deep-in-thought as he ponders his past, leaning forward on one arm braced against the wall. Dewey's drummer Sam (Tim Meadows of " ") informs the stage manager: "Dewey Cox must rethink his entire life before he plays." Kasdan and Apatow tell their story predominantly in flashback. We learn that Dewey had an older brother, Nate ( as a child and as a grown-up dead man) who was a musical progeny as well as the apple of his doting father's eye. Nate lives a charmed life, risking life and limb more often than not with fires, runaway horses, until he meets his untimely death during a duel in the barn with Dewey. They are fencing with a pair of machetes and Dewey loses the sheath for his machete and accidentally cuts his older brother into two pieces. The adolescent actor appears to be buried from the waist down in hay so that he can be alongside his trunk-less pelvis and legs. Dewey's father never lets his surviving son live down this accident. Repeatedly, through the action, the father appears and reminds Dewey that the wrong son died. Repeatedly, the ghost of dead Nate appears to Dewey (rather like the ghosts in "Stardust") and lecture the hero. At one point, Dewey meets the Beatles during their sojourn in India. Dewey rubs shoulders with the Beatles and the filmmakers show that they know a thing or two about these immortal icons. Paul Rudd plays John; Jack Black does an amusing turn as Paul; Jason Schwartzman is appropriately goofy as Ringo and Justin Long scores as George Harrison and they introduce Dewey to LSD.
Kasdan and Apatow hit more often than miss with their jokes in this consistently funny as well as moving musical biography parody. The songs are incredibly flavorful and funny, too. Margo Martindale excels as Dewey's homily, obese mom, while Raymond J. Barry steals the show as his strident father. "Walk Hard" is strides beyond most cinematic satires.