Movie Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows
Distributed by: Apatow Productions

Like any good mockumentary, Walk Hard is right in the thick of things, slipping in jokes with the wit that can only be John C. Reilly’s. From the source material alone, I had thought this was a Will Ferrell vehicle, so thank God Reilly was cast. He’s just got that Oscar touch and refinement that Ferrell simply lacks, because, let’s face it: we’re all getting tired of his antics in movies as of late. Hey, I’m just giving my opinion.

Back to the review – Dewey Cox is the derivative of all and any musical analogies we’ve grown up with: it’s solidly based on the life and times of Johnny Cash, with roots in rock, jazz, new age and yes, even some motown and punk slipped in there; much like the 3 [men] Cox slept with during his illustrious career. The story arc sets off when Young Dewey Cox accidentally halves his older brother in a machete fight. As ridiculous as that sounds, it actually works as the cast and crew are more than willing to admit there is a fourth wall, but never actually touch it: they do come tediously close to going right over it, but have the sense to keep the reality of the movie well intact. After the brother incident, Dewey loses his sense of smell (a la Ray Charles); he’s befriended by his father, played by Raymond J. Barry who continually and eventually hums ‘killed the wrong boy’. It’s that sort of tough love that sends Dewey out on the road to pursue his dream of one day being a famous musician.

It’s during Dewey’s first time on stage at the tender age of fourteen (the film makers wisely decided to have John C. Reilly play this part) that we really discover Dewey’s talent. If you can pick it out (and it’s not hard), that’s actually Reilly singing – and he’s pretty good, it certainly gives his credit for his past Oscar win.

The situations the characters are placed in are right out real events (playing at a radio station to a strict manager), and there’s no juxtaposition in the dialogue: pretty much everyone cuts to the point – in a funny way: when the radio station manager delivers his ‘there’s no way you can convince me to keep recording, you have no talent, and I’m sure you’ll never amount to anything’ speech, and gives Dewey 15 seconds to try to come up with something, you just know the next mega hit is about to be recorded.

Cox winds through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and a good part of the 80’s with reckless abandon, sleeping with random women [plus one band mate], experimenting with drugs, selling out with a variety disco television show, and well, you get the picture.

It’s a tongue in cheek experiment done right. It works because the comedy doesn’t rely at all on current events, and I think this is where most current spoof films fail: they’re a little too busy commenting on Brittany Spears and company. And really, who wants a movie that can be that easily dated with some soon to be obscure singer?

Watching Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox story was a satisfying romp through musical history’s misguided eyes. Even if some of the things and times aren’t entirely familiar to you, it’s still funny. And for those music fanatics, it’s just that much more fun.

7 out of 10