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Dec 27, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Overanalysis of a film like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is not only unnecessary but repetitive, as the makers of the film seem to have done enough analysis as it is, mining Ray and Walk the Line practically line by line for material. The funnier thing is that Walk Hard manages to almost be a better movie than either of its sources.

No, that's not blasphemy. As great as the performances by Jaime Foxx and Joaquin Phoenix were, the films themselves were solid, honest (at least they felt that way) and, oh yeah, completely by-the-numbers, unimaginative and very VH1-like. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed both of them, but I'll take Walk Hard over either of them any day of the week. That might sound somewhat obvious, as comedies traditionally have a much higher rewatchability factor than dramas (especially depressing ones), but it's a bigger compliment than that.

Many are calling Walk Hard a "parody flick" - something that belongs in the category of the Scary/Date/Epic Movies of the world. But as it turns out - that's a tremendous insult, however much you might like any of those movies. I don't know if it can at all or in some part be attributed to budgetary reasons, but Walk Hard feels like a much more professional work than any slapped-together compilation of dumb jokes poking fun at Lord of the Rings or The Blair Witch Project - Hard stays true to its subject matter, not straying (much) for long stretches from its source material. Also, overlooked (in those other flicks) parts of the production such as costumes and makeup shine here - when John C. Reilly's Dewey is a senior citizen, you'd scarcely know that Reilly himself wasn't a septuagenarian. The makeup is just that damn good. An odd thing to laud for a silly comedy, but I was amazed at how much it stood out to me as well.

It didn't hurt that the film was pretty damn funny, too. Though it relies heavily on the magical comedic rule of three (or more), even the most repetitious of jokes still play as well in minute 90 as they did in minute 30 - an impressive feat. Other large factors contributing to the movie's success include:

* a strong, deep cast, including not one but two formers members of the Upright Citizens Brigade, though one (Ian Roberts) has a bit role and won't be recognized by anyone else in the world besides me and his family.
* a number of strong cameos (Frankie Muniz, Eddie Vedder, all of "The Beatles").
* some damn funny songs that go beyond a single line or two (the standout is the double-entendre filled "Let's Duet," with co-star Jenna Fischer).
* its R rating. This movie would not have been a third as funny had it been PG-13.

Though Reilly's singing certainly warrants his place in the movie, the only thing that kept bugging me was the nagging feeling that he was the second choice of writers/producers Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow, as several scenes scream the name "WILL FERRELL." This may be entirely unfair (as it may not be true), but it almost seems a role written for him. Poor John C. Reilly - even as the headlining star of a big budget comedy, he's still Mr. Cellophane.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"


1 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"

Adam said...

wow - we took completely different sides of the fence on this one. I didn't even bother posting my review of this b/c it was so negative and worthless, haha.

I didn't laugh much during this comedy - a couple funny parts here and there which typically relied on the cameos (Jack White and the whole Beatles sequence).

Unfunny and stupid-trying to be smart-but just stupid. I think this is certainly the first big miss for Apatow - no where near the caliber of 'Virgin' or 'Knocked up' and 'Superbad'

Did we see a different movie? haha.