Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
John C. Reilly ………. Dewey Cox
Jenna Fischer ………. Darlene Madison
Raymond J. Barry ………. Pa Cox
Margo Martindale ………. Ma Cox
Kristen Wiig ………. Edith
Chip Hormess ………. Nate
Tim Meadows ………. Sam
Chris Parnell ………. Theo
Matt Besser ………. Dave
David Krumholtz ………. Schwartzberg
Nat Faxon ………. Stage Manager
Terrence Beasor ………. Doctor
Sooner or later someone was going to skewer the new wave of biopics about musicians in the sort of way it deserves, as opposed to being the self parody that a film about Britney Spears would evoke. That time has come with Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, a two hour comedy that attempts more jokes in two hours than almost any other comedy has this year. The nice part is that the film works on a number of levels besides the funny bone, as the film ruthlessly parodies all of the clichéd moments of movies about rock stars such as Ray and Walk the Line.
Walk Hard, which spoofs both the title and the general storyline of the Johnny Cash biopic, follows the tale of Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) and his meteoric rise to fame. Included are the usual musician problems of drugs, groupies, failed marriages and squabbles with band mates, but the beauty of the film is that it never stops to be serious or make some sort of point. There’s a joke in nearly every moment and every scene, from Sam (Tim Meadows) telling Dewey not to use various drugs despite their “positive” effects and minimized consequences to Dewey’s ever expanding family as the minutes go by. Walk Hard has one basic premise: if there’s a joke to be found, it’ll find it.
Credit John C. Reilly for seizing what’s a rather silly premise and milking every single laugh he can from it. As the years go by he deals with a remarkably increasing series of events that are more absurd than the next; Reilly is game throughout and tackles everything an exuberance that is something to behold. He seemingly attacks every part he’s in the film to try and make it as funny as possible. It’s wonderful to see an actor embrace a role with such silliness and just run with it.
Jake Kasdan has borrowed from plenty of other films for Walk Hard, but mainly what he borrows is the sort of shenanigans from films like Airplane for his spoof. He throws out so many jokes that several pass in between laughs. While there’s about a 75% hit to miss ratio with the jokes, as plenty fall flat, there’s always several around the corner so that when one misses there’s several hits waiting afterwards.
And that’s the film’s inherent problem as well as its biggest strength; the film has a lot of jokes that don’t miss or kill several scenes flat. While there are some moments that are insanely funny, including a part where Cox hangs out with the Beatles in the “Sgt. Pepper” years (with Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman as the Fab Four with varying degrees of British, Irish and Scottish accents used sporadically) that’s pure comedic bliss, there are several others that don’t work that detract from the film mightily.
That isn’t to say the film isn’t a wonder to watch. Seeing the music biopic, some of them a bit pretentious, skewered this way is a breath of fresh air. It’s instantly quotable and the sort of dumb humor needed during Oscar season.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):