Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Movie Information

The Story: A spoof of biopics, following the life of fictional rock star Dewey Cox. The Lowdown: A spoof with an OK concept that feels more like a really bad Saturday Night Live skit that never wants to end, rather than an actual movie.
Score:

Genre: Biopic Spoof
Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows
Rated: R

Behold the power of Judd Apatow! After his directorial success with The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Knocked Up (2007), and all the goodwill he’s somehow managed to yank from simply producing Superbad, it seems that anything blessed by Mr. Apatow (who, in this case, cowrote the film) is serious business. Why else would Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story—100 minutes of John C. Reilly doing his best to cement himself as the poor man’s Will Ferrell—somehow be lauded by critics (it has a 77 percent approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes Web site)? I guess these same critics seem to have forgotten that Apatow also wrote the dreadful Fun With Dick and Jane (2005).

The concept is simple. Take Reilly, turn him into fictional rock star Dewey Cox, and follow his life story, all in an attempt to parody films like Ray (2004) and Walk the Line (2005). All the conventions of the musical biopic are there, from the early, haunting tragedy—in this case, a young Dewey (Conner Rayburn) accidentally cutting his brother in half)—to the tough home life, to a “crippling” disability (Dewey has no sense of smell), to the eventual drug abuse. And this might be the film’s biggest problem. Since all its bases are covered, the jokes are as obvious as they come. It’s almost as if the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 watched Walk the Line, then all the wise they cracked was written down and made into a movie. When the script isn’t smacking you over the head with how clever and observant it thinks it is, it’s running jokes into the ground faster than Reilly can say “I was in a Scorsese flick? Two of them?” (like Dewey’s penchant for ripping sinks out of walls over and over and over again when he’s angry).

Which brings us to Reilly, who’s apparently stopped trying to trick people into thinking he’s a serious actor, and has instead relegated himself to doing movies that’d feel more at home on Saturday Night Live. Sure, Walk Hard never sinks to the depths of parodies like Epic Movie or The Comebacks, but you’d need a HAZMAT suit and a hepatitis vaccination to slum that low. It’s not too far removed, however, since instead of shots to the groin and fart jokes, the film is yet another example of the “random” wackiness popularized by Anchorman (2004) and the like—with all the ham-fisted antics such a film entails. I halfway expected Reilly to start elbowing me in the ribs and ask, “Do you get it?! Huh?! Did you see what I did there?!” Take the film’s inclusion of a surprise bit of frontal male nudity of the gentile persuasion (the “graphic nudity” in the film’s rating). There’s no setup and no real punch line. Instead, the simple sight of a penis is conceivably supposed to cause juvenile fits of laughing, or at least, it would seem, pointing and giggling. Welcome to comedy in the year 2007.

What the makers of Walk Hard don’t seem to realize is that to make a proper parody, more needs to be done than simply pointing out the genre’s flaws and basically saying “Hey, this is a cliché!” Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, which came out earlier this year, was a movie first, with such foreign concepts as including an actual plot and likable characters—and a spoof second. Hot Fuzz managed to take what it was making fun of (action movies), build a comedy on top of that, while at the same time managing to be one of the best pieces of action filmmaking to come out this year. Not only that, Hot Fuzz has an actual affinity for what it’s poking fun at (even if that affinity includes Bad Boys 2 (2003)) as opposed to the holier-than-thou attitude that permeates Walk Hard. Actually, just go rent Hot Fuzz. Sure, there’s no graphic nudity, but sometimes that’s the price we must pay. Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language.

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26 thoughts on “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

  1. Justin Souther

    Unfortunately, Ken pawned this one off on me (he’ll probably tell you I had a choice in the matter, but I’m pretty sure he tricked me somehow).

    And no, I never said it was as bad as EPIC MOVIE, that’s a special kind of awful that few are able to obtain. You have to really try to be that willfully stupid.

    Though there is one thing about John C. Reilly in this movie as compared to EPIC MOVIE: he doesn’t quite discredit and embarrass himself as much as say, David Carradine — or worse even yet, Crispin Glover.

  2. Ken Hanke

    “Unfortunately, Ken pawned this one off on me (he’ll probably tell you I had a choice in the matter, but I’m pretty sure he tricked me somehow).”

    All I did was point out that it was 30 minutes shorter than your other option, P.S. I LOVE YOU. Some people are so suspicious.

  3. Justin Souther

    For the record, I love Reilly in his work with P.T. Anderson, but for whatever reason, he seems to have fancied himself a purely comedic actor, and it’s hard to tell if it’s paying off at this point.

    Looking at the IMDb, upcoming he’s got another film that teams him up with Will Ferrell, and movie alongside Sean William Scott, and a comedy about a Renaissance Fair.

    Someone needs to organize an intervention for this man.

  4. The funniest thing in this film was the scene during the “bad behavior montage” where, while engaging in “leisure activity” with a groupie and taking a slug from a bottle of beer, he yells “THIS IS A DARK #^%&@#$ PERIOD, MAN!!!” That cracked me up.

    Other than that, feh. I think I might have to rent something with the word “Criterion” on the packaging to make up for this.

  5. Ken Hanke

    “I might have to rent something with the word ‘Criterion’ on the packaging to make up for this.”

    Do two Criterions and three Kinos while on your knees praying for the artistic soul of John C. Reilly.

  6. An excellent idea, Ken – but I think heavier artillery might be necessary in the case of Reilly’s artistic soul, like a trip to the cinematic equivalent to Lourdes. In the meantime, I’ll just have to watch his work w/Paul Thomas Anderson as a reminder that he can in fact be a good actor.

    Speaking of, do you folks have any idea if and/or when There Will Be Blood is coming to town?

  7. Justin Souther

    I believe it’s scheduled to get here on January 18th, but I don’t think it’s been decided where it’ll be playing at just yet.

    All of this is secondhand knowledge however, so you’ll probably still want to keep an eye out as that date approaches.

  8. “Other than that, feh. I think I might have to rent something with the word “Criterion” on the packaging to make up for this.”

    We can hook you up with hundreds of Criterions, as well as EPIC MOVIE.

    Sorry about not recognizing you as the reviewer, Justin! I hope that Hollywood quits the parody game, but it looks like it never will.

    marc

  9. Ken Hanke

    Well, despite mystifyingly good reviews DEWEY COX seems to have pretty much tanked. That might slow down the parody game. Maybe they’ll send this stuff straight to video where it more properly belongs.

  10. “That might slow down the parody game. Maybe they’ll send this stuff straight to video where it more properly belongs.”

    NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

    marc

  11. Nam Vet

    Let’s see, other reviewers like the film, but our local two do not? I’ll see it for sure then. Ken liked “Song For Bethany”, I guess because it was shot here, I thought it was the worst movie I have ever seen. Ken didn’t like “Love In The Time Of Colera”, yet I loved it. Sometimes I think it is just better to sit back and enjoy a film for the sake of being entertained. That way one just may be transported and not get so caught up in the details. You can watch a film shot in a studio in the 1930s and enjoy the acting and story line, or you can notice that the background is fake. Most movies cannot stand over-examination.

  12. Ken Hanke

    “Let’s see, other reviewers like the film”

    You can say that about any film and any reviewers.

    “our local two do not?”

    I haven’t seen it, so I haven’t actually said. I don’t like the spoof sub-genre in general, hated the trailer for this, but haven’t weighed in on the specific quality of this.

    “Ken liked ‘Song For Bethany’, I guess because it was shot here, I thought it was the worst movie I have ever seen.”

    No, Ken did not like DANCE FOR BETHANY and made it clear in the review why he didn’t and also why he felt the film had merits worthy of local support and interest.

    “Ken didn’t like ‘Love In The Time Of Colera’, yet I loved it.”

    If you want to play the “other critics” game, you’ll have to note that of the 93 reviews gathered on Rotten Tomatoes 67 gave the film bad reviews. That means only 28% of those reviewing it agree with you that it was good.

    “Sometimes I think it is just better to sit back and enjoy a film for the sake of being entertained.”

    What does that even mean? It’s a criticism I see lodged now and again about criticism, but what does it actually mean? That you should sit back and accept whatever’s on the screen as entertaining? How is that possible? Had I been entertained rather than bored stiff by the CHOLERA movie, I’d have given it a good review. For me, it was simply not entertained — and, unlike a movie such as WALK HARD, CHOLERA clearly intended to be taken as more than just entertainment.

    “That way one just may be transported and not get so caught up in the details.”

    You try that with PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE some time.

    “You can watch a film shot in a studio in the 1930s and enjoy the acting and story line, or you can notice that the background is fake. Most movies cannot stand over-examination.”

    No, I can watch a 1930s studio film, enjoy the acting and storyline AND notice the background is fake. It’s not really an issue. It’s also not the issue here, nor are we talking about 1930s studio movies.

  13. Nam Vet

    Geez Ken, I didn’t mean to get you torqued off. I think my criticism of critics has merit. They do tend to over-analyze. That doesn’t mean critics do not have merit. Roger Ebert, for instance, is my favorite. I have found that the flicks I enjoyed, he tended to like as well.

    I guess it’s a hazard of your trade that you can get so bored watching “Love…Cholera”. You see so many movies as part of your job it must be difficult to just sit back and get absorbed in a story line. That’s what I mean by “transported”. It happens to me a lot of the time. When that happens, I give the movie a thumbs up. I was transported in “Love…Cholera”,so I liked it. I really liked “Into The Wild” and “Across The Universe” too, movies that you also liked. So there is agreement now and then. I just don’t read reviews before I see a flick, as a rule. I read them afterwards. :)

  14. Ken Hanke

    Oh, “torqued off” is way too strong. I merely responded to your points. Myself, I tend to think that far too few critics analyze at all. For me, reviews are part of the whole movie experience, though not so much from the should I see it or not standpoint. Rather, I like reviews that make me think about a film in a way that might not have occurred to me. And that’s really not going to happen without some degree of analysis.

    I don’t know whether seeing 200 or so movies a year makes it harder to get absorbed in a storyline. It’s probably a wash when it comes down to it. It might make me harsher in some cases, but then again I might well be relieved that it’s not ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS or BRATZ.

  15. Nam Vet

    Good response Ken. I still stand by my point that I like my position of just being a movie goer who just allows himself to get absorbed and transported by the entertainment value of a flick. The mechanics are second to me. You have a good New Year 2008 Ken!

  16. Ken Hanke

    Granted, but if by “mechanics” you mean the writing, directing, acting, photography and editing, you’re talking about the very things that make up the entertainment value of the movie at hand. You can remain unconscious of these things (that’s a personal choice), but they’re still what you’re responding to. After that, taste kicks in and that’s wholly subjective.

    In any case, let’s hope for a 2008 filled with movies that absorb and transport all of us.

  17. “In any case, let’s hope for a 2008 filled with movies that absorb and transport all of us.”

    I seriously doubt that a film in 2008 can transport me as much as John Cena’s THE MARINE did. And I’m not joking either.

    marc

  18. Ken Hanke

    “The disdain Hollywood has for moviegoers these days in astonishing.”

    Granted, but considering that moviegoers will actually pay good money to see this stuff makes it clear why Hollywood has this disdain. If people would just stop going to these movies, they’d stop making them.

    “I seriously doubt that a film in 2008 can transport me as much as John Cena’s THE MARINE did. And I’m not joking either.”

    Well, it transported me in the same way I KNOW WHO KILLED ME did.

  19. Ken Hanke

    In humanity’s favor, it only took a week for two out of three theaters showing WALK HARD to cut it back to two shows a day. That’s encouraging. Less encouraging is the fact that people are still flocking to see ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS.

  20. I finally caught up with this the other day on a flight from Nashville to LA.

    I pretty much loved it, but I think a lot of that was being into the music and musicians that they’re affectionately parodying. In the same way that a non Beatles fan won’t get nearly as much out of THE RUTLES as I would.

  21. Ken Hanke

    I pretty much loved it,

    Extensive time in L.A. can do this to otherwise (sort of) rational minds.

  22. Jeremy Dylan

    I watched on my way to LA, so hang and dash to your theory.

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